You’ve Graduated from College: Now What?

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If you are reading this before you have already graduated, we need to back up a little bit and look at what you should be doing to better your chances while going to college.  One of the best ways to help you determine what you want to do post-graduation and help you land a job is to get an internship or co-op with a company or organization in your field of study during your college years.  This will help confirm or deter you from what you want to do, while giving you valuable work experience to start building your resume.

Next, you want to utilize your school’s career center.  Not only can they help you network with companies, they can get you in touch with alumni and even get you involved with mock interviews for practice. They can also help you build your resume and format it (keep it to one page).   Almost all colleges and universities today have career fairs (fall semester and spring semester).  GO TO ALL OF THEM!  You will network with HR and hiring managers of companies, learn about companies, and sharpen your skills when speaking with decision makers.  You may get opportunities to move onto an interview with one or more companies and potentially have an offer in hand prior to graduation.  A lot of the companies also look for candidates for their internship programs so just another way to get your foot in the door.

If you don’t have a job offer after graduation and don’t want to live in your parent’s basement, you have to go get a job!  Create your resume and build your LinkedIn profile.  Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are very professional and mirror each other without discrepancies (we have tips on this blog on how to create both).  Another very important rule is to make sure you “Google” your name and see what comes up on the internet.  Trust me that this is the first thing most hiring managers do now.  Also, clean up and delete any pictures or posts on your Facebook / social media accounts that are inappropriate.  As a recruiter, I have seen numerous times where candidates who were more than qualified for an opportunity were turned down because of what showed up their social media pages. It’s time to grow up and get ready for the professional world.

While you apply to jobs on job boards or directly on company websites, do not forget that your network of professionals is just as good, if not a better way to land your new job.  Building your network and meeting decision makers in your field is still one of the best ways to land your next opportunity.  I have seen where candidates have found an opportunity with a company due to their network who had never “officially” posted a role, but rather “created” a position for someone they just could not pass up.

Now a company gets in touch with you to move you on to the interview stage: what’s next?  Make sure you invest in professional interviewing attire to dress the part.  Also, I cannot stress enough: GO TO ALL INTERVIEWS!  Even if you don’t think it may be the best opportunity or your dream job, there are a few reasons you want to take the interview.  Interviewing is a skill all on its own and the more you do it, the better and more confident you will get at it.  You may have thought you would not be interested in the role and then after learning more about the opportunity, it may actually be a great one.  Also, you have just met some new decision makers to add to your network.  Don’t forget to get contact information from them so you can send them a thank you note.

To sum it all up for getting that first job out of college:

  • Get an internship or co-op during college relative to your field of study
  • Go to all job fairs and utilize career services at your university or college
  • Update your LinkedIn profile and resume
  • Review, update, and edit all social media sites to make them professional
  • Utilize and build your network
  • Go to all interviews with companies and dress the part for the opportunity

Written by: Zandr Tesolowski

 

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Degree or No Degree? That is the Question!

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When you graduate from high school, you encounter the proverbial fork in the road.  Go to college and pursue an advanced degree or move straight into the work force?  For those who choose to go to college, your chosen field of study can say a tremendous amount about who you are and your outlook on life.  For myself personally, I am a firm believer that any degree field should have an ROI (that’s return on investment for those of you not in business!).  Let’s face it, college is extremely expensive these days. It places a large financial burden on both you and your parents.  I highly doubt any parents want to spend $70-$80K for a college education and have their child study Western Civilization only to move back home and work in a coffee shop (although I hear Starbucks has great benefits!).  I’m not saying everyone has to be a doctor or lawyer, I’m merely saying that your field of study should at least mirror your life’s aspirations.  Because of my business background (thank you USC-Upstate), I have a hard time investing money into something that doesn’t pay a dividend, much less pay for itself at least.

There are non-traditional degrees as well.  These typically include associate’s degrees along with specialized certifications.  As a Technical and Engineering Recruiter, I routinely encounter candidates from both the traditional bachelor’s degree path as well as the more non-traditional associate’s degree path.  Obviously the traditional degree holders are your engineering and management candidates.  Those with associate degrees are typically CNC/CMM programmers, mechanical drafters, and designers.  These are all highly specialized and sophisticated career fields.  I’m not here to say that one path is better than the other, but I have always been impressed with the degree of knowledge/expertise that comes from some of our technical/vocational schools in the area.  These candidates typically are currently working while going to school in the evening and possess a very strong work ethic.  These people are taken very seriously and are admired by hiring managers.  The same rings true with engineering candidates.  Several universities across the Southeastern U.S. yield some of the very best engineering talent in the country, if not the world.

What does this say about people in the work force who do not hold a degree?  From an early age, most of us were taught that you have to have a college degree to enjoy success and financial gains, yet many people continue to grow and thrive in the U.S. workforce without a degree.  According to an article in Forbes, 68% of Americans 25 or older do not have a bachelor’s degree.  Some of these include very powerful business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Mary Kay Ash, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Rachael Ray, and Steve Jobs – just to name a few.  So why is it that these individuals were able to thrive without any form of advanced degree?  It can be argued that these people all started their own businesses and didn’t need degrees since they were entrepreneurs.  Qualities they all possess include innovation, drive, and creativity to make their individual businesses successful.  As someone that works with numerous companies across several industries, I’m starting to notice a trend.  While companies publicly require a college degree, I believe that they secretly desire experience instead.  Having both seals the deal!

 

Written by: Chad Hardin, Technical Recruiter