Hunting for a job is a rite of passage after you graduate from college. Whether you're hitting the market with no experience or with a slew of internships and co-ops under your belt, the process can be challenging. With the right mindset and a proactive approach, it's possible to find a job that suits your personality and starts your career off on the right foot.
Build Your Network
You might not have a large professional network when you graduate from college but you can still use networking to help in the job search. Start by reaching out to everyone you know; professors, former internship supervisors and family friends are a great place to start. Explain that you're hunting for your first job and searching for insight. For people who live nearby, request a quick meeting to learn about the person's job or ask for job-hunting wisdom. If your contacts are remote, ask them for a quick review of your resume and cover letter. This process does several beneficial things: it spreads the word about your search, helps you refine your materials and opens you up to potential opportunities.
Don't Limit Yourself
The traditional career path is no longer the only sensible option after you graduate from college. If your gut is telling you that going straight into the corporate world is the wrong choice, listen. Consider getting experience and giving back with an established program such as Teach for America, the Peace Corps or Engineers Without Borders. Take a year to travel the world. If you're dreaming of starting your own business, take advantage of the growing gig economy, and don't wait until you have startup capital. Begin offering your freelance services to local businesses, or set up an inexpensive online shop.
A job search can take months after you graduate from college, but there's no need to stagnate. Instead of hanging out on the couch, be proactive. Clean up your portfolio, and start making spec work to bulk it up. If you're a writer, invent a client and craft a full suite of promotional content. If you have an engineering degree, ask to job shadow a professional engineer at a local company. Volunteering is another way to feel useful and show off your abilities to people who might be able to refer you to job openings. Consider an internship, or sign up for a professional development workshop. These proactive steps keep your skills sharp, expand your network and make you more attractive to potential employers.
Consider a Location Change
Searching for a job is time-consuming and potentially expensive, particularly if you live far from your desired opportunities. In fact, some companies won't consider candidates who are not local to save on travel and relocation. If you're not tied to your current location, consider moving to an area with a better job market after you graduate from college. Once there, find a subsistence job to pay the bills while you join local associations and begin a serious search. Choose carefully; select an area with many businesses in your industry, or choose a spot that's central to several sizable cities.
When you graduate from college, patience and a proactive attitude are key. By staying focused and active, you can parlay your degree into a job opportunity.
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