A few months in the real world doesn’t make either of us experts – we still struggle to balance work, fun, money, and health, but we’ve made it work so far and now we’re here to give tips to people who are in the same position we were in less than a year ago.
*Just a warning – this post will be full of cliches and cheesiness…but we wouldn’t write anything we didn’t think to be true!*
Trying to find a job after graduation can be a pretty pain-staking experience. But it can also be exciting, if you look at it the right way. You could move anywhere, meet new people, and really begin to build your life.
Here’s a few tips on how we made it work:
1. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.
Laugh all you want, but it’s so true in almost all aspects of life, including your job search. You can send the same mediocre resume to a thousand companies and hear back from only a few…or, you can really target a few companies and tailor your resume and cover letter for those positions. Use buzz words from the job posting, highlight only the most relevant experience, and mention very specifically what you like about their organization (do they have a specific program/initiative/project currently that you feel especially connected to?).
2. Find your passion.
If you’re only going to send your resume out to a few companies or positions, you need to know which ones. Find a way to combine your technical skills with something you’re passionate about. Companies will have a hard time turning you down when they see that not only do you have the knowledge necessary to fill the position, but also that you are passionate about their mission.
For example, Shianne has known for a while that she wanted to work in events – she’s always on the move, very detail-oriented, and likes to be in control. So when it came to graduation and applying for jobs, she thought about what she was passionate about, which was public policy, and tried to find a way to combine the two. Hence, how she came into her current role in special events at a conservative think tank, the perfect job for her! She’s not directly involved in formulating policy, but she can use her specific skills to support initiatives she really cares about.
In contrast, Elyse is kind of entirely not too sure what she wants to commit her career path to even after graduating months ago.. was that something you were suppose to figure out in college? We’re so young! There are so many wonderful options out there! What about her dream of flying fighter jets, is that dead?
(In all honesty, probably yes. Tell yourself that.)
Should you find yourself in this frame of thought, a few things probably need to happen. You’re going to need to make a plan of things you want in a job and what you want out of life. If work life balance is huge to you, you should consider that in the career and company you look at. If you’re a great people person but not so great a math, consider that too. Make a list of your honest strengths and weaknesses.
3. Don’t be afraid to network!
TALK TO PEOPLE. We’re past the place where a summer internship is going to make or break your career path decision. Talking to people who have the job you think you want is a huge help because it may not be exactly what you thought.. or it could be perfect! Plus, us real world people are surprisingly happy to help out and pass along any knowledge we have or information to connections you want to make. LinkedIn can be an amazingly powerful tool for this — just don’t abuse the power.
Also a suggestion, read some advice from Business Insider, LinkedIn Thought Leaders or this book — What color is my parachute? They can help you think through your wants and needs are and maybe even enlighten you to a career path you did not know existed.
Of course none of this is to say you should be super picky – it is a rough time out there, so if you’re lucky enough to land any job, congrats! But there’s no reason to settle for something you don’t absolutely love when you’re totally capable of doing so much more!
Good luck out there, future grads! And don’t fear, the real world is a lot better than they lead you to believe!