By Angela J. Doty, M.A., GCDF
If I could write a letter to graduating seniors with advice about preparing for the job market, it would go something like this:
Dear Graduating Senior,
Looking at the calendar, graduation is less than 28 days away! This number evokes excitement for some and trepidation for others. Graduating from college represents a rite of passage, from student to professional. As with many rites of passage comes both freedom and responsibility: freedom from homework but the responsibility to “get a job”. Based on personal and professional experience, I have a word or two of advice as you get ready to graduate.
First, I applaud you on achieving such a significant milestone! It’s a time of mixed emotions: elation, grief, joy, fear, hope, uncertainty, and so on. You may feel excited one moment and anxious the next. Or you may experience the whole spectrum all at once. No matter what you feel, change is coming. This change is what you’ve been preparing for, studying hard, gaining experience, and learning all that you can to be successful. You are ready!
As you prepare to embark of a new leg of your journey, I pass along these words of wisdom.
Finish Strong. As ready as you are to be done with school and set out into the “real world”, you still have work to do in this season. Homework, papers, and tests still require your attention. It may feel like you have one foot in the boat and one foot on the dock. It’s a bit of a balancing act. Keep in mind that the boat isn’t ready to set sail just yet. Focus your energy accordingly and finish well.
Engage your Network. I would be remiss if I didn’t include this one. Networking is the #1 way that people get jobs. Think of networking like gardening or farming: You plant seeds and water them. Some sprout faster than others. Some grow stronger than others. All of the relationships that you’ve developed over the past few years are part of your “network”: family, friends, faculty, supervisors, mentors, and so on. Seek their advice and input. Graciously invite them to participate in your job search. They genuinely want to help you. Let them.
Be Open to the Possibilities. It’s important to have a goal and direction in mind. You might even have a specific plan of action for achieving that goal, but keep your eyes open for potential opportunities that may present themselves. Plans change. Mine did about 6 weeks before I graduated from college. I wouldn’t be working in my current field if I hadn’t accepted an unexpected job offer. Prayerfully consider each path. You may be faced with two (or more) good options. Trust God to guide you. He is able to do more than you could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Consult the Career Center. I am not ashamed to put in a plug for what we do in Career Development. We are here to help you, now, as you get ready to graduate, and after graduation, as alumni. It’s free. It’s individualized. And it’s our passion! We consider it a privilege to come alongside you in your journey and help you get to where you want to go. Allow us to empower and equip you! Include us as part of your networking strategy.
Be Persistent. Transitioning into the next phase of life is a process. It requires you to invest concentrated time and energy customizing every single resume according to the job description, scheduling informational interviews, making follow-up calls, and submitting applications. The strategies that you’ve learned from Career Development really do work, but you may have to apply for a lot of jobs and interview for many positions before the “right” one comes along. Keep at it. You may face rejection. It’s okay. It’s part of the process. Learn from it as appropriate and move on. Don’t give up. Be patient. Be gracious. Be persistent.
Savor the Moment. I share this advice with you, because I failed to heed it. I was so excited to “move on” that I rushed right through some of the “lasts” in my final semester. So, I encourage you to make the most of the remaining weeks and days. Visit the special places where you created meaningful memories. Celebrate with those people who have become your friends for life. Thank the professors and administrators who have impacted you. Take pictures in front of the University sign. Reminisce, laugh, cry, embrace all the emotions that mark this time in your life, because this experience has contributed to who you are today. And it is unlike any other experience you will have in life. So live in the moment before the moment is gone.
As your career counselor, mentor, instructor, friend, and, soon to be, fellow alum, I am SO proud of you! I look forward to seeing what God has in store for you. Please stay in touch.
Congratulations Class of 2014!
Angela J. Doty, M.A., GCDF
Director of Career Development & Student Success