Graduation is an exciting, chaotic time. Classes are finished, finals are taken and grades are finalized. Years of work pay off as students get to walk across the stage and accept their diploma in front of friends and family members. Graduation parties are held and graduates get to look forward to the start of a new chapter of their lives.
You may find yourself unsure of what to do next. You may need new housing and have to look for ways to support yourself. Finding and applying to full-time jobs can seem daunting right out of college, but there are things you can do to be prepared for your next job.
Here are five ways to kickstart your career after graduation:
1. Keep Learning. Continuing your education after graduation is a great way to ensure future success in your career. While many people may immediately think of a graduate program, there are many ways to keep learning for little to no cost.
Consider taking online courses for programs like Excel or Access that are constantly used in the business world. Audit classes, look for internships or even get new certifications to keep growing your knowledge base. These opportunities also provide valuable experience for future employment.
2. Build on Your Experience. Even if you don’t land your dream job right after graduation, there are ways to get relevant experience in your field. Want to be a copywriter for a major business company? Start a blog. Hoping to own a business? Consider working in a small business setting, where you can start getting experience across all aspects of business ownership.
Even the smallest task, like filing paperwork or answering phones, can turn into a powerful experience that will bolster your resume and help your future business.
3. Value Your Connections. It’s easy to distance yourself once you graduate. The sudden lifestyle changes can lead you to transition away from academics and temporary jobs, but the people you make connections with at work and at your university are more important than you know.
Foster good relationships with your current employer. Their knowledge of their field, even if it’s not your career choice, can shape your future. When the time comes to leave your job, leave well. Honoring your employer is necessary in any setting and their references can make or break future interviews.
Making and maintaining relationships with your professors is another great way to get started in your desired field. It gives you the opportunity to gain meaningful mentors, references and invaluable insight into your profession.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions on how your bosses, professors and mentors got to where they are today. Their insight and wisdom can help give you direction.
4. Stay Involved. Keep your information up to date on professional sites like LinkedIn, even if you already have a job. An online presence can help you in current and future jobs and allow employers to see you are actively building your portfolio.
Maintaining social media outlets can also be crucial in keeping up relationships with former colleagues and professors while giving future employers a good impression of you. Showcase personal accomplishments like blogs, internships and work experience so future employers can see you are actively interested in your career. Events like conferences or job fairs are great ways to meet new people and talk to professionals in your field.
5. Keep Calm. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed with the new opportunities and lifestyle changes after graduation. While there are many ways to manage stress, Christ offers us a clear message in Matthew 7. The chapter reminds us that if God can take care of the sparrows, he can certainly take care of us. Jesus encourages us in Matthew 7:31-34,
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
While it’s important to take steps toward your highest potential, remember that your life is ultimately in God’s hands. His timing is not always your own, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t land your dream job right away.
Graduation can be an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time. Changes in lifestyle, living situations, relationships and work can seem like a lot to handle at once, but there’s nothing to fear.
Start small by looking for experiences and learning opportunities similar to your dream career. Value your employers, professors and coworkers. Let them speak into your life. Remember to stay invested in the present while being open to learning for the future. And lastly, remember to stay calm.
Know that you are surrounded by people who are there to help you succeed. God ultimately holds your future and has your best interest in mind, even if the timing isn’t always what you imagined.