A lot of my blog post ideas come from experiences and conversations that I have, and this one is no different. Many of my college students graduating both in December and in May are starting to worry about finding a job after college.
The panic sets in fast, and I remember it well from my senior year.
Let’s talk through a few things you can do to avoid the panic and focus on what’s important, so you have a better chance of landing that job after graduation.
1. Don’t discount internships, fellowships and other short-term employment options.
One of my first pieces of advice for anyone who panics about finding a job after graduation: Do you have internships, fellowships and other short-term opportunities on your list to apply to, too? It’s internship season as we speak, and I always recommend graduating seniors apply for internships as well as jobs.
Would it be better to start a real job with a salary and health benefits the week after graduation? Absolutely. Do you have to take that path? No!
I interned for four months and then received a job offer from the place I was interning. Many people I know have had the same experience! I ended up taking a different offer after all, but I wouldn’t have gotten the job I did take or the other offer if I hadn’t interned there first.
Note: This doesn’t mean take an unpaid internship opportunity! Pay. Your. Interns.
2. Ask a mentor or professor for help.
Are you totally stressed about finding a job after graduation?
One of the hardworking students I work with regularly expressed that he was stressed about finding something after he graduates in December. I was able to connect him with an alum who I know would love to connect with a student working in our field, and now he (hopefully) feels a lot better and has some advice as he prepares to embark on his professional career!
You never know who a mentor or professor you trust might know. There are alumni everywhere.
3. Set up a networking call or coffee meeting.
If you’re feeling incredibly stressed and don’t know where to turn, sit down with someone in your field and ask some questions. Don’t know anyone to talk to? Again, ask that mentor or professor for some help. I advise our advertising and marketing students, so I am always looking for opportunities to help them network.
The networking call that I helped set up for one of my staffers will hopefully be beneficial to him in multiple ways. Maybe he’ll get advice on places that might be hiring, how to stand out in the application or interview process or even another connection that will help him find a job.
And honestly, just talking about the job search and how you’re feeling about it relieves a lot of stress.
4. Look for alumni at the places you might like to work.
I always recommend finding alumni of your university, sorority/fraternity or student organizations you were a part of at every company you might like to work at. It is not necessary to find an alum, and it might be tricky if you went to a smaller university.
But if you went to a bigger school like UNC and are applying to jobs in the state of North Carolina, it likely won’t be hard to find a Tar Heel!
Don’t hesitate to send them an email and ask if you can connect to ask a few questions about the job or just introduce yourself.
5. Apply for open jobs, even if graduation is months away.
If you see an open job that you could see yourself doing, don’t hold yourself back from applying just because you don’t graduate until the end of May!
First of all, job interviews and hiring processes can take a long time. Second of all, applying gets your name and resume in the hands of people who might hire you for a future job.
6. Don’t slack.
It can be tempting to drop out of student organizations and heck around during your senior year.
I firmly believe that grades don’t matter, but experience and leadership do matter. Make sure you take your leadership roles very seriously senior year! It can be tempting to skate through, but avoid the temptation.
Your faculty advisor might be the person who writes you a recommendation letter, and your experience with a fundraising organization or your student newspaper might get you your dream job.