Graduation is a disorientating experience for many. Yes, it’s filled with excitement and the promise of a bright future. But it can also be difficult. If you’re about to graduate, or if the big day passed recently, you’re likely feeling uncertain, overwhelmed and a little sad about the end of your college life.
It’s normal to juggle different priorities and activities after graduation. And between searching for a new job, evaluating postgraduate qualifications, shoring up your professional network and maybe even considering a postgraduate gap year, it’s unlikely that you have much spare time.
But in the period immediately after finishing college, it’s important to stop and reflect. Doing so will allow you to uncover and define the best possible route forward. And in this post you’ll learn five practical steps for developing your postgrad plan of action.
1. Recognize That You Don’t Need to Start Working Straight Away
It’s a good idea to start thinking about your career while you’re still studying and take advantage of any college resources, such as career counselors and internships. But you don’t need to start looking for a job immediately after graduation.
Spending some time defining your “meta” plan, which encompasses your values, personal preferences, talents, and an understanding of the unique impact you want to have in the world, will help you orient yourself as you navigate an unpredictable job market.
You should also spend some time making sure that all your career-related documentation is in order. Have you gathered feedback about your resume? Have you learned how to write compelling and detailed cover letters? Are details about your references all up to date? All these questions are worth asking.
2. Evaluate Postgraduate Qualifications
Postgraduate study can add an extra layer of competence to your existing skill-sets. Crucially, it will also give you the opportunity to develop practical, real-life abilities that build on your theoretical and classroom-based training.
Further education after a bachelor’s degree isn’t for everybody. But if you do have a clear idea about the kind of field that you wish to enter, pursuing a master’s degree or an MBA, or acquiring relevant vocational training or certificates, will increase your chances of landing a good position when you’re ready to start working.
Keep in mind that having a postgrad degree doesn’t guarantee that you’ll find your dream job immediately after leaving college. It will, however, make you more attractive to employers, and can be a particularly valuable asset when combined with work experience.
3. Begin Growing and Maintaining Your Network Immediately
If you haven’t already, commit to growing your professional network. Your roster of business contacts, LinkedIn network and relationships with companies that you have interned with are valuable career assets. Don’t let them go to waste. Allocate a portion of your day to ensuring your connections remain active and mutually beneficial.
Your network can also provide you with useful advice about any problems or obstacles you may encounter as you start looking for a career. You may, for example, want to get a second opinion about a job offer. Or you might be unsure about the best way to reach out to a company you like.
It could even be the case that you just want to vent about any frustrations and setbacks you experience. In all these examples, your network can help you gain perspective and insight.
4. Take a Multifaceted Approach to Your Job Search
When looking for open positions, it’s important to take a diverse approach. Popular job sites, like Glassdoor, Jooble and Indeed, will form the mainstay of your strategy. But it’s also crucial to widen your search if you want to give yourself the best chance of finding the “perfect” position.
Social media sites, especially LinkedIn, and your professional network are both resources that you should take full advantage of. Before you begin your job search (or in conjunction with it), spend some time learning how to leverage different skills that will enable you to reach potential employers. You should, for example, learn how to set relevant LinkedIn job alerts and send engaging cold emails. And make sure you’re following your favorite companies on social media, where it is now common practice to post recruitment opportunities.
5. Take Care of Your Mental Health
Leaving university after graduating is a tumultuous time for many people. Research shows that it’s not uncommon for students to experience a wide range of emotions, including grief at the loss of their former lives and social networks, along with uncertainty about the future.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic precariousness that has ensued negative feelings are likely to be more acute.
These facts highlight the importance of paying attention to your mental health. Ensure that you have adequate support structures in place, whether they come from your friends, family or college resources like counselors and career guides.
Allocating time to look after your mental health will pay significant dividends as you evaluate and pursue post-college opportunities, thus increasing your chances of finding your ideal career and enhancing your potential for growth.
Are You Thinking About Postgraduate Education?
Are you considering postgraduate education? Perhaps you have a particular field in mind that you want to specialize in. Or you might want to hone your business skills before launching your own startup or pursuing a career at a large enterprise.
EU Business School offers a range of master’s and MBA degrees that will provide you with all the skills, knowledge and practical experience you need to thrive in your chosen discipline. As a graduate student, you’ll have the chance to learn from some of the world’s leading business thinkers. You’ll also study on one of our European campuses, located in the vibrant business hubs of Barcelona, Geneva, Montreux and Munich as well as online.