Thinking about the end of your undergraduate career can be scary. What will you do once your time at school is over, especially if you don’t want to go to graduate school afterward? Today I am going to share seven things you should do now to prepare for post-grad life.
7 Things to Do Now to Prepare for Post-Grad Life
1. Get Used To Life Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
First and foremost, get used to a lot of being outside of your comfort zone. This year, and the time while you are searching for a job (whatever that position may be), will be quite tricky. Whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert–you are going to have to be outside of your comfort zone at least a little bit this year.
This year can be so stressful because in today’s age you have to always be on just in case there is a brief possibility that you may be able to find a job in your field.
I think the biggest thing is knowing that this intense out of comfort zone experience is temporary. Yes, you may also be out of your comfort zone when you finally land a job, but the feelings you have now are exasperated by the fact that you want to be employed, are trying to graduate, wondering where you will be in a year from now, etc. Take a few deep breaths, and let’s move on to the various other things you should be doing right now.
2. Get Your Online Persona In Order
In today’s information age, your online persona can make a significant impact on your job prospects. A professional online persona can positively impact your job search and connect you with people you never thought possible.
First things first, you should Google yourself if you have never done this. When you want to know about someone professionally, you often Google them, so you want to be aware of what your potential employers could possible find on there.
If you have a pretty common name, this may not be an issue, but if your name is very uncommon–this should be your first step.
Either way, whether your name is common or not, I encourage you to take a few seconds to see what pops up when you search for your name. Look in all areas (especially Google Images) and then look further than the first page.
You may also want to check out other search engines too. Each search engine has a different way of looking at search engine ranking, so it’s vital that you see what they have for your name as well.
I am lucky in that my name is Amanda Cross, and there is also a pretty famous author named Amanda Cross (or at least that was her pseudonym.) I have been blogging with my name for a while, though, so I am starting to crack the results for Amanda Cross. It’s crucial for me to be on the lookout for what that could mean for future employers as my information is rising in the ranks for the name Amanda Cross.
Clean Up Your Social Presence
Now, I hope that you have been following the famous rule of the internet, “if you don’t want your grandmother to see it, don’t post it,” but you may be able to do some damage control if you haven’t.
Now, I want to warn you: the internet has a way of keeping things, even if you don’t want them to be kept. Some sites crawl your data and keep it even outside of the context of the website you are thinking of. For example, there are tons of sites that just aggregate your Instagram images if your Instagram is public. In theory, they should delete pictures when pictures are deleted from your Instagram, but there is no guarantee. Also, in theory, if you put your Instagram on private they should take down your images from their site, but there is no guarantee.
The best way to stop things you don’t want to be seen later from showing up is not to post them in the first place.
Alas, if they were posted I would look through things to see what you can fix.
- Delete or make private albums on places like Facebook that you don’t want people to see.
- Untag yourself from photos where you may have been drunk or photos that just may not be good optics for a person who is looking for a job.
- Delete old status updates that just seem like they wouldn’t be great for a person who is searching for a job to have posted.
Create A Professional Presence Using LinkedIn & Blogging
Next, you want to create some professional profiles. LinkedIn is the best way to do that in my opinion. Check out my article on how to be a LinkedIn rockstar so you can master how to get your LinkedIn profile ready right now. I encourage you to create a LinkedIn profile as soon as possible so you can start connecting with professionals in your field.
You may also want to start producing your own content online either through LinkedIn’s Publishing tool or your very own blog. Creating a blog can be such an excellent experience, make you money, and even land you jobs!
3. Utilize Your Campus Career Center
Chances are you won’t be able to access your campus career center very long or at all after you graduate. Now is the time to make some appointments and get yourself in order to look for careers.
Your campus career center has employees that are there just to make you succeed with great jobs during and after college. It’s your responsibility to take the time you need to stop by and visit them.
Get Your Resume Reviewed
Many campus career centers have people on staff who will help you get your resume together. It’s best to come with some semblance of a resume put together. Then you can sit down with an employee at your career center to go over what is great and what could be improved.
Taking the time to sit down and chat will prove to be very beneficial for you. It will help you understand what makes a great resume and show you how to improve future ones.
Participate In Mock Interviews
Another service that many career centers offer is mock interviews. Interviewing is a skill, but most people don’t want to practice it because that would mean that you are potentially getting rejected for a job.
Your career center realizes this, so they offer mock interviews so you can get comfortable with the interview process without the stress of actually applying to a job and getting rejected. Your career center may also use mock interviews to help you prepare for an upcoming interview you have with a potential employer.
Attend Career Fairs
More than likely, your campuses career services department puts on a few career fairs a year. It’s time to attend a few of them! I would personally start as early as possible because it’s never too early to begin networking with career professionals. Career fairs are another great way to practice meeting people in your field.
Be sure that you get the list of employers that will be at the career fair ahead of time, do your research, and come to the career fair with a plan to meet the most relevant employers. Don’t hesitate to go off the beaten path, though, you never know where you may end up career-wise.
4. Start Actively Looking For Jobs
Now it’s time to start actively looking for jobs! You may have some connections that you have made through career fairs and creating your LinkedIn profile, and that’s an impressive start! In this section, I am going to share a few resources for you in the job search department.
Use Sites Like Indeed To Search For Jobs
Many sites help you search for jobs (even LinkedIn has a pretty healthy selection of jobs you can explore.) I love Indeed more than any other job search platform. It’s straightforward, and you can even apply for jobs right through Indeed most of the time. Once you have an account, you can keep your resume on the site so people can find you, and you can easily apply for jobs there.
Be Prepared To Negotiate With Help From Glassdoor
Negotiation is key. You are a brilliant person, I mean you are about to go into post-grad life! You shouldn’t feel the need to get paid any less than you are worth. So many people are tight-lipped about their salaries, making it hard for people to have a reasonable salary negotiation.
When you get that icky “what would you like to be paid?” question, you should be able to answer that with some grasp of the reality of what people in their company usually get paid.
That’s where Glassdoor comes in. Glassdoor allows you to look for jobs at some pretty amazing companies. Actual employees have also shared their ratings of everything from the interview process to working on the job. They have also given their position and often, their salary. You can find a similar position or an exact match. With that information, you can be empowered to ask for a salary that is commensurate with your potential co-workers.
5. Attend Networking Events In Your City
While you are actively looking for jobs, you should also be attending any networking events in your city (especially if you plan to stay there after graduation.) Some cities are obviously better for networking events, but depending on what city you are in, you may be able to find some great events. Plus, any event can be a networking event if you work hard to introduce yourself to and meet new people.
Get Used To Carrying Around Your Business Card
You never know when you may find someone you want to connect with on a deeper level. If you carry around business cards, it’s much more professional than whipping out your cell phone and getting their information that way.
There are many places to get business cards. While I love sites like Moo and Minted because they have some beautiful and fancy business cards, they may not be the most economical for any about-to-be college graduates out there. Instead, I highly recommend getting your business cards from Vistaprint. With Vistaprint, you can get some beautifully designed cards for pretty cheap. It seems like they always have 50% off sales on their business cards.
6. (Actually) Get To Know Your Professors
Your professors have experience in your field of study so if you haven’t gotten to know them, now is the time. Think about some of the professors who have made the most significant impact on you or some of the professors you have taken many courses with. How can you get to know them further during your last year of college?
Work With Your Professors On Research
Your professors are probably required to be working on research or writing of some sort. Many professors are evaluated not only on the classes they teach but also the research that they put out. So, see if any of your professors need some help. Maybe you can put together an independent study of some sort during your last semester of college or even an internship. Connect with professors if you did well in their course and see if they would be interested in working with you on a project. Your professors want to see you succeed, but you need to take the initiative.
7. Focus On Your Mental Health
Last, but certainly not least, you should focus on your mental health during these tough times. These next months will be stressful as you are finishing your degree and working to find a job. I am not going to lie and say these months will be easy!
Take time at least once a week to decompress and do something fun with you and your friends (after all, after college is over, you will probably see each other a lot less.) Don’t turn down a dinner and movie date or a nail date. You can even hang out with people to study. After all, you won’t remember all the times you stayed up late studying, but you will remember the people you studied with and how they made you feel.
So, there you have it. Post-grad life is almost here, and with this post, I hope you are more ready for it! Don’t be scared of the future and what will happen to you in a year from now. Prepare for it the best you can, don’t get discouraged, and work hard.
Amanda Cross is a millennial lifestyle blogger and freelancer from Arkansas. You can find her content over at her blog The Happy Arkansan where she discusses a variety of topics like studying, college and graduate school life, fashion, and more. When Amanda isn’t blogging or freelancing you can usually find her watching television dramas, reading young adult fiction books, or napping.