You’ve graduated. So, now what?
College- time to explore, experiment, and entertain things you’d never thought you’d be down for in your wildest dreams. It’s also the time to examine your career options and begin setting the foundation for your future. Whether your a freshman just bracing yourself to begin the race or a senior on your final lap, the pressures of the post grad workforce can weigh heavy on you causing some severe imposter syndrome. Though there are no cheat codes to ensure you get the most out of your college experience or land your dream job 24 hrs after graduation, there are definitely things you can do to help you feel more prepared to make full-time work like your b**ch.
Decide on your “big picture”
While there’s no way you’ll have even half of your life figured out while in college it is important to have some sort of idea of what your end game looks like. Whether it’s owning your own company or being able to travel the world – spend some time for yourself thinking about where you want to be when the dust settles. Think big picture and really try to be specific. This is helpful because it will be your guiding light when college gets a little dark and fuzzy. When your friends are challenging you to another shot and you still have to drive home, thinking about how a DUI ,or worse, could hinder you future planes is one hell of a stop sign.
Constantly update your resume
Typically people don’t update their resume until they’re ready to shop it around, but I am not a fan of that. If you wait until then you can easily forget valuable contributions you’ve made and/or projects you worked on during your current position. What works for me is keeping a Google Doc with all of the things I’ve successfully completed at my job as well as any awards or recognition I’ve received . This allows me to easily update my resume and show what a valuable role I’ve played in my position when asking for promotions and or raises.
Create a portfolio
Not to be confused with a resume, a portfolio is a visual log or your work. It shows potential employers and clients the work you talked about in your resume. All the work you’ve done (articles, hair, graphics, paintings, structures, etc.) should be placed somewhere that allows you to easily showcase it. I have both a digital and a physical portfolio where I keep my work. I like having a digital portfolio because I can share it easily by providing a link and I can also link important documents and supplementary material to it.
I like having a physical portfolio to take with me to interviews because the person who checks your resume isn’t always the one doing the interview. Having samples of your work on hand can solidify that not only are you bomb at speaking on your skills but you have the proof to back them up.
If you know your work is good don’t do it for free
I know I’ve hyped up the importance of building your portfolio, and doing a little work on the side is perfect for that, but being a student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get paid for your services. Now this is not to be confused with interning. I’m talking about whipping up flyer for the frats at your school or creating meal/workout plans for your friends. Your talent is worth something. It may not be what you’d get paid at your nine-to- five, and it definitely won’t be what the leading industry professionals make, but you deserve to get paid for working.
*steps up to soap box* With that being said, getting paid less than what you’d make at your day job doesn’t mean you should do less. ALWAYS work hard and deliver high quality. Your reputation will precede you and money is not an excuse for failing to deliver.
Talk about your work
This one is major for creatives or anyone looking to start their own business one day. If you’re not promoting your own work how can you expect others to? Be your own biggest cheerleader first and give others the tools to talk you up when you’re not around. What does that mean? It means getting your elevator speech on point and being ready to deliver that bad boy whenever the time arises. If you don’t have an elevator speech stop reading this right now and start working on it.
Speak up when you know you can assist
So many people complain about getting passed over for projects or promotions outside of their current position, and my first question is always “did you tell them that you could help.”
At my last job I sat quietly several times while projects I wanted to work on pass me by. I remember being really frustrated and seriously thought about quitting because of it. Finally, I womaned up and talked to my boss. He was completely surprised that he had forgotten so many of my skills I had listed on my resume and that I was beneficial to other parts of our company. He also thought that my workload was a lot heavier than it actually was. Moral of the story- a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. Speak up!!
Networking is one on the biggest thing anyone starting out can do. It is an awesome way to meet people and to get your ear to the streets of your potential career field. It can be intimidating sometimes to think of going to events with little to no experience but I promise you’re not alone. Also, the more experience people there want to help you. You are the future of their field. Show them how much you want to be successful in it. Go there, learn new things, meet people, and talk where you want to be. If you get a business cards make sure that you follow up. A simple “It was nice to meet you” goes a long way.
Become comfortable with saying no
Saying “yes” when asked for your help might seem like great opportunities to pad your resume, but you can quickly become overworked and overwhelmed.
Be selective with the work you decide to take on. Make sure that it fits your end goal and also doesn’t take more time and resources than you have. Saying no will be really tough in the beginning because you won’t want to let people down, but ultimately it will save you a ton of time and frustration.
Hit the share buttons and point this out to your post grad friends (or just anyone looking to level up in their career.