I Graduated… What Now?

Lessons and advice on the job search from one recent graduate to another.

The Sky Isn’t Falling

Lets face it: the world doesn’t stop after college graduation, and the sky doesn’t fall during tough times. Time to put our big girl panties/big boy boxers on and accept that a college diploma is not a “go straight to *Insert dream company*” pass. A chance at free parking every once in a while is about the only Parker Brothers’ metaphor in this reality.

Only recently have I resolved this: no matter how much preparation, passion and persistence you may put into the job search, sometimes it’s just not enough.

Thanks for letting me get all of that off my chest. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past five months since graduation.

1. Don’t Get Discouraged

There is no possibility of a win if you don’t keep trying.  Think you’ve memorized every job post on the Internet, contacted everyone in your network, your neighbor’s, and your cousin’s in Nebraska? Chalk it up to timing and keep on keeping on. Look at it this way: you can keep trying, or you can settle for where you are right now. Refer to these famous failures to make yourself feel better: http://ezinearticles.com/?16-Most-Inspiring-Famous-Failures&id=862208.

2. Don’t Feel Alone

80% of recent college graduates move back in with their parents (R1FinancialEducation).

Over a cup of coffee with a high school friend, I learned that even those lucky enough to find employment in their dream field right away, weren’t able to stay there. One classmate landed his dream architecture job with a prominent firm in Orange County, California a year and a half ago. I was surprised to learn that he had been laid off 6 months ago, not due to lack of performance, but by lack of business. He is now back working in our small town. Another peer, who interned for an environmental non-profit in NYC for 6 months, has been at home looking for a full-time position for over a year.

Even those of us who have worked hard and taken all the right steps are facing roadblocks. So in good “misery loves company” fashion, remember: you’re not alone.

3. Don’t Make Excuses

The economy may be enough of an excuse to keep your parents off your back about landing a job, but using this to post-pone the job search isn’t benefiting you at all. While you pout at home over Xbox and bon-bons, others are out there making connections, which will leave you that much farther behind when jobs start popping up. Just think: all of this networking, researching, interning, and interviewing is sharpening our skills and bettering us for our future job.

4. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Just because you are not being hired right away does not mean that you are not valuable. Really think about your skills and proficiencies. One recurring question I’ve run into is: “what is your core skills set?” My first response was something along the lines of not having enough professional experience to be able to answer that. WRONG! We’ve all used computer programs in college. Do you have any leadership or management experience? Yes, being responsible for three children several times a week counts and so does mentoring a trainee at the restaurant you work for. Don’t sell these experiences short- being able to compare these experiences to a future job situation are what make you stand out!

So, you’re homework for tonight is to stop feeling sorry for yourself and start preparing. Make a list of your “core skills set” and don’t downplay anything. Project management, leadership, and organizational skills are a great start! Don’t forget to list exemplary performance in an internship, exceeding goals, and any promotions.


October 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment