If you’re one of the thousands of college students about to embark on the glorious journey that is post grad life, first off, congratulations, secondly, get ready cause it is rough out there. Many of us college graduates expected the world to be chomping at the bits to hire a young, excited, recent college graduate, but the sad truth is most places could give two shits who you are and where you went to school. Its the unfortunate truth that people are reluctant to tell you as you begin your journey into adult world.
There are many things you need to think about as you start your first summer full of job hunting, interviewing, and disappointment. Not to completely derail your energy and excitement about starting your life, but its not as easy as you may think. As you gear up for the real world, there are a few things you should be focusing on this summer that will only help you get a job, stand out, have fun, and keep you on the right track.
Here are 8 things you should be focusing on this summer if you just graduated college:
Preparing Your Resume and Cover Letter
I’m sure most of you have had an assignment in one of your classes, building your resume and cover letter in an attempt to prepare you for real jobs. While this is extremely helpful, and it truly is, it really does not completely set you up for what companies are looking for in a potential job candidate. The best advice I can give you is ask for help from someone you know who is experienced. Most of us go to our parents, grandparents, friends, family, and other third party peers we have, and these are all extremely viable options, but its best to get someone who works as a hiring manager and pick their brain.
If you don’t know anyone like that, all other options are great as long as they know what they are talking about. Friends are sometimes your best bet because they are in the same boat as you and can share some helpful tips on how you phrase things, word choices, and formatting. You will learn, the easy or hard way, that making your resume and cover letter legible without being too simplistic is the key to getting in the door for an interview, and that should be your goal; getting your foot in the door is sometimes the hardest thing to do. After preparing your resume and cover letter to cater the needs of your employer, the rest is up to you.
Preparing for Interviews
“I am a great interviewer.” Some may think because you aced your part-time job interview at your local restaurant or shopping complex, but this is nothing compared to real job interviews. The most useful tip I can give is similar to my tips above: ask for help. Friends are going through interviews as well, and I guarantee they’ll have stories of bizarre questions they were asked during an interview. Some questions might be “if you could be any animal, which animal would you be and why?”
This may seem irrelevant for the accounting position you are applying for, but this is a real question I was asked as I applied for a Public Relations position. What does it have to do with the job itself? Nothing, but employers wanna see how you react when backed against a wall, and the only way to impress is to be as prepared as possible. So practice all you can. Another helpful tip is YouTube. Surprisingly, you can find many people who have interview preparations that are helpful and some might even have applied to the same company you have your sights set on. The internet is your best friend and aid, use it.
You just graduated from college, a feat that not many people get to accomplish, take the time and enjoy it for a little. After all, it is summer, you’re in your 20s, do not take it for granted. I’m sure you did your fair share of partying in college, but even if you didn’t, its time to unwind and reflect on your college career and appreciate what it was to you. While hitting the job market as soon as possible is important, staying sane enough to want to improve yourself is just as important. You just accomplished something that will help you for the best of your life, so load up the car, have a few beers, and reward the hard work you put in to graduate from college.
Enjoying the Last Moments of Being a College Student
This varies from sleeping in, to having mom and dad make you dinner or give you money. Enjoy this as long as you can because once you step into the real world, all of that college student crap goes out the window. Never under value the glory of sleeping in, or not having to worry about anything but what your plans are for the night ahead. Do this for as long as you can and cease every opportunity to be a student because once it is gone, you’ll miss every minute you complained about all those years ago.
I cannot stress this enough: enjoy everything your parents do for you. Even if you think your parents don’t do anything for you, tell me that again when you are living on your own, exhausted and have no food in the fridge and three loads of laundry to do. Appreciate what they do and milk it as long as you can. Once the perks of mom and dad are gone, they never come back except on the occasional visit in which they load you up with leftovers and necessities. You’ll appreciate it when its gone, trust me on that.
Getting a Job
This one is pretty obvious but I cannot tell you how many people wait too long to start looking for jobs, me included. The real world is so competitive, every second you are not applying, hundreds of recent college grads just like you are beating you to the punch. Sometimes it’s in your best interest to take a lower-level job while still looking for the career you want.
If you do decide to take a lower-level job it is important to make sure it’s going to look good on your resume by being somewhat related to your field. This is not always the case, but any job is better than no job. Employers appreciate the applicant who was working his way through college verses the rich kid who has never had a job before. Proving you can hold a job is never a bad thing, take that opportunity and apply it to your career. Getting a job should always be your focus but you must learn to crawl before you walk.
Reconnecting with Old Friends
Not everyone lost touch with friends, but it is common to lose connection to your once best friends for a multitude of reasons. This is your chance to rekindle the old flames of your friendships, reminisce old times, and enjoy the people you are lucky enough to call friends. Whether you drifted apart, lost touch, or simply stopped talking, it is important to ground yourself every once in a while and get back to your roots.
Something like a house party at the old high school party house can motivate you to reconnect with fallen friends, meet your friends new friends, and show everyone you are still the kid your peers liked. As the years pass, you don’t want to see someone on Facebook and say “wish we never lost touch,” it is important to have your childhood friends in your life to remind you of where you came from.
Padding Your Resume
Oh, you helped your mom out with an event for a few hours and you think that’s just a waste of time? Guess what, you can use that to pad your resume and strengthen yourself. Learning how to word things is half the battle, and those “pointless” events you attended are not for nothing.
Using charity events, volunteering, or even helping the neighborhood can bring you from goose, to the golden geese that laid eggs in ‘Willy Wonka,’ and we know everyone wanted the golden egg. Look around Facebook, local papers, Twitter, anything that has volunteer work and just dedicate and afternoon and do it. So many employers appreciate someone who can give back in any way, so help others while at the same time you’re helping yourself.
Finding Yourself and What You Want to do For the Rest of Your Life
This one is the most difficult but it will be the most helpful in the long run. You need to determine what you want to be doing for the rest of your life. You don’t want to get sucked into the first place that hires you and hate your life for the next 30 years. Sit down and think about your passions. What can you see yourself doing and how can you go about achieving that goal? Focus on yourself and you might turn out to like the reflection looking back at you.