I remember spending my mornings after graduation glued to my computer screen, repeatedly clicking refresh with the hope of seeing any sort of positive update. I wasn’t tracking fantasy football stats, nor was I waiting excitedly for a delivery notification from Amazon. Instead, I was compulsively checking my inbox, eager to hear back from potential employers.
While graduating college is an exciting venture, it can also be a confusing and stressful time in our lives. Although Bloomsburg University prepared us to meet the challenges of our respective disciplines head-on, many of us found that establishing our careers can be trickier than we initially thought.
During my own journey navigating the job market for the first time, I learned a few crucial concepts that helped me pave the way to the beginning of my career. Remember these tips when you start your job search:
- Call yourself an emerging professional rather than a recent college graduate. This title allows you to highlight your post-graduation status without calling attention to any inexperience. In addition, it engages you to think dynamically about how your accomplishments differentiate yourself from the rest of your competition. It’s crucial to stand out amongst a sea of other applicants, especially when you’re new to the industry.
- Be open to different career options. Although you may have studied one specific subject area in school, many of the skills you learned are applicable in a wide variety of industries. For example – just because you earned a degree in a specialized major like biology, doesn’t mean that you have limit yourself to a position in the biology field. If you’re interested in a job outside your industry and think you’re qualified, be bold and click the “apply” button. This doesn’t mean you should apply for any job, but you will benefit from branching out and getting creative!
- Learn to accept rejection. Facing rejection from prospective employers can leave you feeling down (and understandably so!). However, it’s important to stay positive despite these setbacks. While it may seem like you’re the only one getting rejected, you’re far from alone – there are way more people who get turned down for jobs than receive offers. Once you realize that hearing “no” is a normal part of the process for the majority of job seekers, it will be easier to move on to other opportunities that lie ahead. As I often had to remind myself: forge on, keep sending out your resume and don’t get discouraged!
- Consider looking for an internship. While most students have their hearts set on finding a full-time job after graduation, breaking into the entry-level job market can be difficult. Post-college internships are a great opportunity for those struggling to find a job to gain more experience and get your foot in the door. Even if your internship doesn’t lead to a direct job offer, it will provide additional leverage when you continue your job search. Treat your internship experience as if it was a full-time position – you never know where it may lead you.
- Always remain assured and appreciative. Graduating from college and entering the workforce is an important milestone that every student should be proud of. As you transition from being a college student to a young professional, remember to not only take ownership of your accomplishments, but also be thankful for those who helped you along the way. Remaining grateful, even after you land that first elusive job, is an attribute that many possess but often forget about. A thank-you to those who went the extra mile for you will always be appreciated!
Through learning these concepts, you’ll be able to build a competitive edge and get a head start on your job search by the time you walk across the stage and receive your diploma. As graduation day approaches, I challenge you to find the time to think about and develop your personal brand every day, even if it’s for just a few minutes. It may just pay dividends in the long run.
Welcome, emerging professionals of 2016.