Oh, The Places You’ll Go!


Most of us can relate to those who have just graduated from college. Your emotions are a mix of sheer joy and utter fear. The question that crosses all students’ minds after graduating is, “What now?” Some will take the path of grad school; others may take a year off and travel to see the world! But for most, the job search begins! Below is the advice that our top recruiters first received after they graduated college:

I feel completely honored as an English major and avid reader to have had an author speak candidly to my graduating class in 1992. “Up until now the focus of your life has been learning,” Tom Clancy said to Wake Forest graduates. “Now the focus of your life is on doing. After the gentle responsibilities of the last 16 years, you will soon enter a profession where someone will depend on you.” This resonates with me now as I continue to meet college grads – the work environment is not 100% centered around your needs – you are there to support the company and your teammates – work ethic and pride in your work will make you successful in whatever you do. Clancy also encouraged grads to hold onto their dreams as that keeps them from being old while growing old. You have to love what you do in your personal and professional life – your passion will show through!” – Katherine Ericson

My first boss who taught me everything I know about being flexible and adapting in the workplace, always reminded me to never “burn a bridge.” She would always say, “Treat everyone you meet with the same respect, for all I know, I could be working for you one day!”– Rebecca Reed Faulk

Having just graduated not too long ago, several pieces of advice come to mind. The advice that resided with me the most was, “You can never be too prepared for an interview.” Being a “Millennial,” we have a bad rap for being lazy when it comes to searching for a job. I used to think as long as I had an idea of what the company did and what the position was, I was good to go. But with the level of competition out there these days, you’re going to need to do more research in order to make a great impression. Researching not only the company, but also recent news about what the company is doing. Study the company’s social media especially if you’re applying for a marketing position. If you know who you will be interviewing with, Google that person and have a few topics to discuss at the end of the interview. The more work you put into preparing for the interview, the more it will show that you really want the job. – Shawn Kinard

Never do anything that you know is wrong—no matter who asks you to do it. The message was that only you control your reputation for honesty and integrity and you can check yourself by asking yourself, “Would I want this on the front page of the paper? Would I want this recapped on the witness stand in court?” Also, never hesitate to ask questions if you don’t understand something. No one expects a new graduate to have all of the answers, but the only way to learn is to listen to mentors and ask questions.– Julie Godshall Brown

For about six months, I thought I wanted to go to law school. This may or may not have been significantly influenced by Julianna Margulies’ outstanding wardrobe on The Good Wife. A friend’s father encouraged me to reach out to as many attorneys as I could and learn about their roles, niches, salaries, etc. Although I was accepted to my top two law schools, I ended up passing after the candid conversations I had with professionals in the industry.  By the same token, I spoke with many recruiters before pursuing this career path and knew this was more in line with my goals and personality traits. The take-away? Your career is very important. Research, build relationships and use the information you gain to make an informed decision on what you pursue.  – Hannah Barfield

Something I was told in my early career was that even though we want to find a job that fits with our talents, it is still work and not always fun. It truly takes several years before one truly becomes proficient in learning a trade.  Often times I see graduates jump to a new position when the going gets tough, only to find that there are difficult circumstances in every job. The grass is the same shade of green on each side. – Catherine Culler

My professor told me my senior year to have a short-term goal of setting as many interviews as possible and not focus so much on getting “the job.”  By having multiple interviews, you will become more comfortable with talking about yourself and developing a talk track.  This also gives a fresh graduate the opportunity to sample different company environments/cultures and to see what is the best fit for them.  The job itself will come in time. – Chad Hardin

The best advice I received from my dad was to use all of your contacts.  Networking is so important in the job hunt.  When I first moved to Greenville, I really did not know anyone.  My father arranged a meeting with a prominent banker that was the son-in-law of my childhood neighbor.  That contact led me to another contact that led me to my first job in Greenville.  And don’t forget to be gracious and return the favor–the help you provide to another could end up helping YOU down the road! – Karen Truesdale

What advice did you receive after graduating that has helped you succeed?