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New Graduates: How to Spend Your Summer and Transition to Working Life

Just graduated from college? Congratulations! While it’s tempting to take the summer off and enjoy your last months of “freedom”, this is the time to take the next steps to start your career. It’s okay to plan some travel or time with friends, but make sure to not miss out on this opportunity. Remember that looking for a job is a job and takes time. Use these tips to get started: 

  1. Make a plan.

Waking up at 11:00 am and searching for jobs online for thirty minutes is not the formula for landing the right position. Treat your job hunt as a job. Get up, get dressed, make a schedule, and create a to-do list.

 Refine your job search to make your plan: what is your target industry? what positions are you qualified for? what is your target location? who do you know in the industry? Next, look for local job fairs, research companies in your target industry/location, and think about networking opportunities.

  1. Polish up your resume.

You may have a resume you used for a class project or internship, but it is probably not ready to submit for your first job. Spend some time to capture your strengths and experiences. Make sure to list any paid positions, internships, or volunteer work. Also, think about any leadership roles you’ve had in a student organization, athletic team, or club. Highlight any special skills or certifications you’ve acquired. Finally, keep it simple. No fancy fonts or crazy formatting. Your resume should be about one page in length and easy to read. 

  1. Use your network.

Many positions are filled before they are posted online or advertised. Recruiting is expensive for companies and managers usually try to exhaust their network before advertising a position. Who do you know in your industry? Don’t discount connections through your parents or friends’ parents. Think about asking for an informational interview to learn more about the industry and what would make you a strong candidate. Just be respectful of everyone’s time and grateful for any advice or connections they may provide. 

Also, consider attending networking events. Look for alumni events through your college or professional organizations in your industry. These are great ways to learn about different companies and make new connections. Remember that this is your professional life – not your personal life. Be careful about drinking too much or being too casual.

  1. Use your college or university career center.

Your alma mater likely has a career center that has a plethora of information and resources for your job hunt. They may even have a career counselor who can help you navigate job postings or set up interviews. This is also a good spot to get free assistance on your resume and attend an interviewing workshop.

  1. Spend some time on your image.

We’ve all heard that it is important to “Dress for Success”, but what does that really mean? Well, it depends on your industry, but it is usually safe to have a good assortment of business casual staples. Invest in some good quality dress pants or skirts, shirts or blouses, and appropriate shoes (no open-toed sandals or sneakers!). Having a suit for an interview is one thing, but you also want to be ready to show up to work on the first day. Research your industry and find out what the dress code norms are. 

Speaking of image, think about your online image, as well. What would a potential interviewer find if they googled you? You should know and take any necessary steps to clean it up. Your Facebook profile should reflect who you are, but in your most professional and mature aspects. Take down pictures from that frat party freshmen year and scan your posts for inflammatory or foul language. If you haven’t already, setup a LinkedIn profile and start making connections with your professional network.

  1. Get ready for a big transition.

Hopefully, in no time, you’ll be celebrating your first job offer! But, starting a new job is hard and can be a major life change. Be ready to work a 40-hour work week (or more) and a set schedule, for most jobs. Also, remember that you’ll be the newbie. It is unlikely that you will be making important decisions or contributing a lot of creative ideas at first. You may have some rather menial or boring work to do, but that’s okay! Take the opportunity to demonstrate that you are a hard worker and show initiative to learn new things. Attitude is everything at this stage. Stay positive, stay professional, and stay competitive – you’re just getting started!

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