You’ve Just Graduated: Now What?

If you’re part of the thousands of recent college graduates, you may be experiencing the vertigo that comes with entering a completely new phase of life: young adulthood. You’ve navigated the waters of all-nighters, dorm roommates, and senior theses with impeccable skill, but may now be facing the big question of what to do next. The openness of opportunity in front of you can be overwhelming, but with these tips, you can make the most of this transition period to start making the advancements in your life and your career that you’ve been hoping for.

  1. Take a step back and breathe. What you’ve accomplished up to this point is a big deal, and you should take the time to acknowledge that. If you can’t appreciate the hard work and dedication you’ve put into your education for the past four years, you’ll have a harder time convincing a future employer of it. Take a moment to evaluate everything that you’ve learned and just how far you’ve come. You deserve it.
  2. Reflect on your activities and passions while you were at college. Did you participate in club lacrosse or soccer? Did you go to meetings for your university’s geology club or Habitat for Humanity? Pinpoint the activities that you avidly participated in both inside and outside of the classroom setting while you were at college and see if any of them might lead you to a potential career direction.
  3. Begin researching jobs inside and outside of the field you studied at university. One of the most rewarding aspects of life after college is starting a career. However, it can be easy to limit yourself to searching for a job specifically within the field you’ve been studying. Don’t be afraid to look at jobs that don’t directly call for your major unless the job is extremely specialized –  what is more important is your interest for the work the company is doing, how the job will make you feel, and how the company treats their employees. I graduated with a degree in English and Anthropology – my first job out of college was as an assistant cook aboard a 90 foot sailboat. I couldn’t have been happier with my choice.
  4. Tailor each resume to the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for jobs across multiple disciplines, DO NOT use the same resume for each. Construct and personalize your resume to highlight the attributes and projects you’ve done that best correlate to the job you’re applying for.
  5. Use your cover letter to judge your own interest in the job. Some job applications don’t require a cover letter, though if a cover letter is optional, it’s a good practice to provide one. If you’re writing a cover letter and having a difficult time stirring enthusiasm for the job, it may not be a position for you. While the job market is tough, applying for a job that is already making you apathetic is not a good way to begin your career path, wherever it may take you. It’s your time and your life – if you can’t muster passion for a job that you’ll have to spend 40 hours a week at, before you even start, is it even worth it?
  6. Make the most of your time off. Even if you don’t want to plunge right into the job market and have the opportunity to engage in other pursuits, make sure that you are making the most of that time. Future employers will want to know what you did with the time between your graduation and you applying to their job listing, especially if it’s a time period of several months or more. Whether you want to travel, volunteer, or spend time on a personal project, make sure that you have concrete experiences with which to show your growth.

Graduation marks a new beginning in your life and your lifestyle. While it can be a time of uncertainty and change, it can also be a time of great opportunity, giving you a chance to evaluate the path you’ve been on and where you want to go. Now is the best time to pursue your passions, to make mistakes, and to learn from them which will push you on a path of greater career satisfaction.

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Brittany Spear

Brittany Spear is a recent college graduate on a continuous search for meaning, fun, and adventure in her jobs and her life. In her spare time, she enjoys writing fiction and planning her next travel adventure. You can follow Brittany’s latest adventure on her blog.

  • Kirsten Anderson

    Great tips!