There are few events in life that mark a massive transition to the next phase as senior year of college and the subsequent graduation. Trust me, it is going to go much faster than you think. The last months of senior year seem to be the point where everyone is extremely excited just to be done with their undergraduate degrees, but few seem to actually consider what they are doing after everything is finished. As for me, I felt extremely unprepared for what was to come. By April, I wished that I had done a lot more. Luckily I have a job now, but it took nearly a year to land.
I’d like to share some tips with you fortunate students who still have one year left to make some good things happen. Sure, the academic coursework can take up quite a bit of time, but you’ll be thankful knowing that you took some extra steps to make yourself even more excited to take the stage.
Please note that this article is mostly geared to undergraduate students who are planning on seeking their first job after graduation, and not so much for those of you planning on graduate school. In either case, however, hopefully you will pick up on some valuable tips. Take it from someone who learned his lesson the rather difficult way.
Use Your Career Center
While a certain percentage of students at each college use the career center on their campus, I get the feeling that not enough do. I went to mine a few times and was surprised how much they can actually offer you. From a resume tutorial, to a connection base of various local jobs and internships and even practice interviews, you can get a good head start.
If you think most of these services are unnecessary and can be performed on your own, think again. You will not be ready for your first interview when the opportunity comes if you do not prepare in some way, and you can not prepare on your own.
Start Your Job Search Early
How early? At least a couple of months before you walk the stage would be a good starting point. If you think you’ll get a job immediately on graduation, you may want to think a bit more realistically. Does that mean that it can’t happen at all? Absolutely not. But with the difficulty of today’s job market, you need to look at the bigger picture.
Start getting those cover letters out soon, and don’t be afraid to tell prospective employers that you haven’t gotten your degree just yet, but are in the process. A lot of jobs, (especially in the finance and accounting world) actually take a couple of months between the hiring and the first day.
Establish a Good Relationship With Your Professors
Even though a lot of professors deal with a bug student body at the university level, that doesn’t mean that you can’t stick out to them. Apart from doing well in their class, also make a point to go to their office hours more, either for help or for career advice. If they see that you are really serious about your academic and post-graduation goals, you never know what they can do for you and who they know on the outside. I have several friends who got their first jobs through networking with their professors. It works if you put the extra time in.
So, while there are so many reasons to be excited about graduation, you’re also going to feel very stressed. That is okay – it keeps you in line with what has to happen. What you can’t do is get frustrated, since more often than not, it is going to lead to counter-productivity. Just realize that post-graduation life can be a big (or hopefully small) period of uncertainly. You know that you have a lot of skills and knowledge to bring to someone looking for it, but staying positive is key.
Realize that you’re not going to be unemployed forever; that something is going to come along eventually. Persistence and motivation is key. Keep all of these factors in mind, and you’ll have even more reasons to celebrate your graduation.
Mike is a blogger who contributes to sites that cover everything from music industry, science and home security.