You’re almost done! Or maybe you’ve finally finished! Completing college is a significant milestone and the end of your college experience represents an ever important transition where as a young students, you work towards becoming a young professional. However, this transition isn’t cut and dry – it is a journey! Each student’s path will be different marked with successes, challenges, and failures – and many lessons learned. Here are a few pointers on helping you navigate this journey.
Pre-Graduation . . . .
- Start Building – Yes, you may be busy trying to master your classes to support a great college transcript, however, that is not all the work that needs to be done. This is a great time to start working towards building your resume. Ok, so you may not have that much working experience but that doesn’t mean you should lose focus on building a great resume. Your schools career services is a great place to start in learning more about this ever important representation of who you are and what you can bring to the table. Any work experience throughout your college career including volunteer experience and internships can be a helpful resume builder . Stay connected to your references, they can be an invaluable asset. Your resume is the single most important representation of who you are to a future employer.
- Investigate – You’ve been researching and exploring from one course to the next for some time now. Channel these skills into investigating your career or field of interest. What career paths might you be able to travel? What are professionals in your desired line of work up to? What is the “current state” of the field in which you are pursuing? Also, learn more about companies, organizations, and businesses in which you may have interest or see an open opportunity. Your investigation will not only enlighten you but also assist you in creating your own unique career path.
- Network – Your investigation should lead to your networking pursuits:
- Create your LinkedIn Profile: This a great way to mark you transition from student to professional. Don’t wait until graduation! Create your profile within 6 months of degree completion and start expanding your network. You profile is a 24/7 resume and your connections can increase your visibility to those employers seeking talent like yours.
- Join professional organizations & groups: What organizations or groups do professionals in your desired field or line of work belong to you? Can you get a student membership? Plan to attend a function!
- Make efforts to maintain relationships with close connections: Remember birthdays, write Thank You notes, send holiday cards, ask questions, check in with them – you’ll never know when you need them!
- Build your own board: You are important, why can’t you have your own board? Develop a circle or group of professionals you trust and whose opinions you value. How flattered would they be to know they are your personal “board of advisors”. Professors, family members, friends, bosses, or those new LinkedIn connections you may have come to know. These people should be your personal cheerleaders that offer continued support, an open ear, or a shoulder to lean on.
Post – Graduation . . .
Versatility: Capable of doing many things competently; Having varied uses or serving many functions; Variable or inconstant; changeable; Capable of moving freely in all directions
- Versatility is an important key to survival in today’s workforce. Yes, you’ve had a major and completed that degree, but have you ever thought about a career involving your minor? Maybe your job is not your dream job but might that experience assist you in becoming a multi-dimensional professional or maybe help you reach your dreams? Caliper, an organizational and development firm, suggests a few keys to becoming that versatile professional:
- “Be Bright”: Exercise and constantly improve your problem solving abilities. Be proactive in finding solutions & always be ready and willing to learn more.
- Be Flexible: Can you work effectively with others? Do you adapt easily to change? Can you stay focused on what’s important (prioritize!)?
- Be Competent: Challenge yourself and your work ethic. Continue to evolve let your successes and mistakes make a you a stronger professional.
- Be Confident!!: Couple this with your brightness, flexibility, and competence – and you’ll be versatile asset. Show that you embrace responsibility, are motivated to keep moving forward, and are ready to be your versatility into action.
- Don’t become 'Pigeonholed'
Pigeonholed: To place or file in a small compartment or recess; To classify mentally; categorize; To put aside and ignore; shelve; or defer
Be sure and take “educated chances”. What’s this? Well, by now you know that an educational guess is . . . a hypothesis. It is important to take educated chances as well. As with making an educated guess, this education comes by way of investigation. This will help you decided whether or not you should make a role or a career change.
Maybe it would be changing jobs, pursuing a new position within your company, or changing your career plans. Don’t fear change or chance – just research before you make any next steps! Don’t ever feel labeled (type-casted) or stuck (pigeonholed) – you’re capable of more than you might think, and more than others might give you credit for. (believe in you!)
- Embrace Plan B, C, D, . . . & H?
So, do you have a Plan B? What does your Plan C look like? In life our plans don’t always work out as well as we like and it is important not to be emotionally or mentally derailed by disappointment and unfortunate circumstances. Draw a ‘Career Plan Mind Map’ of the potential career paths you can take and how you might get there. Create an action plan to execute your plans.
It is important to consider what you might define as pros and cons to a potential decision. It is also a good idea to obtain Feedback from those you trust and be open to making modifications and formulating a different plan for your professional development. A new plan doesn’t represent failure and lack of success but may also represent a different approach to where you want to go and where you desire to be.
*** Most importantly, know that your education hasn’t stopped. Don’t expect to know it all, or have it all figured out – there is still a lot more to learn about yourself and what it means to be a professional! Keep these points in mind and Good Luck!!!!