Graduation day, it’s a day to revel in your achievements and a landmark day in the life of every student. Regardless of the stress involved in getting there, you have had the time of your life: the cap and gown, the graduation gifts, and of course, that beautiful college degree you have given four years of blood, sweat and tears for. Afterwards, you’ve attended every career fair, had your resume reviewed and tweaked, and now, you’re ready. With confidence, you open your laptop, hunt for the best jobs that catch your eye, and apply. Four years of college helped you master the art of internet research, so this should be the easy part, right?
Nearly two months later you find yourself back in front of that laptop, frustrated, mentally exhausted, and doubting yourself. One day of job searching grew to a week, then over a month. Where are the call-backs? Why haven’t I heard anything? Don’t they see my degree?!With bills and student loans adding to your list of worries, you realize the stark truth that time waits for no man, and you settle. When did a sheet of paper define who you are? What happened to that integrity, determination, and focused-mindset that came before your degree? Hard work doesn’t end after graduation, it DOUBLES.
It’s okay. We’ve all been down this road before. Here are a few lessons I learned along the way:
- Your career options are unlimited
All throughout college, everyone I knew said I would be a teacher. I majored in English, worked in childcare, and had no other professional experience outside of that and retail. I knew I enjoyed teaching, but it was not my passion and not what I wanted to stay bound to. So, I took a leap of faith. I quit my job and, over the course of three years, rebuilt my resume through internships. For over a year I interned for a law firm, then an advertising company for a summer, and two magazines simultaneously during the fall. One thing we should all know about the corporate world: no one turns down free labor. Don’t sell yourself short by limiting your job options to your course of study. GO BEYOND. My work ethic and willingness to grow from those opportunities resulted in being offered paid internships, fulltime positions, and eventually, the experience I needed for my current career as a freelance writer.
- Remember, wisdom is knowledge
You have the knowledge (and a degree to prove it!), now apply it. What can you do to stand out? When you align your gifts and talents with your career, it will come naturally to you. Are you great at encouraging and looking out for another’s wellbeing? Many coaches and mentors felt the exact same way and used that passion to develop their career.
If you’re applying for jobs within your desired career and are still finding yourself “overlooked,” change your approach. You cannot continue the same methods and expect to see a different result. Do your research on the company and its employees. Learn the pattern of their hiring process and staff-demand. You’d be surprised how many employers hire immediately because they’re short-staffed. If they’re not currently hiring, ask if they’re accepting interns. Don’t be afraid to start off as an unpaid intern within the company. Get a temporary part-time job for income and use the internship opportunity to work your way up. Remember, interns are usually the first to be offered the next available position!
- Don’t lose faith!
We already know it’s a tough world out there, so it should not come as a surprise. If you encounter a road block or minor setback, PUSH THROUGH. If you could get through final exam week before graduation, you can get through anything. Don’t let an employer or anyone else convince you that you aren’t qualified. Whenever one door closes, another one opens.
Written by: Ashley R. Cottrell
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