One of the scariest parts of your senior year of college (or perhaps even your entire college experience) is figuring out your plans for after graduation. The job market can be a terrifying place, even for those with college diplomas. We’ve created this guidebook with specific steps to take and over 30 resources to help you follow the guidelines. Our aim is to make the job hunt a little less intimidating; here’s a quick preview of what you’ll find below:
|Part I: Finding Your Passion||Part II: Turning Your Passion into a Career|
|Ch. 1- Identify What Makes You Excited||Ch. 6- Find out What the World Needs|
|Ch. 2- Find a Major||Ch. 7- Become an Expert on Your Options|
|Ch. 3- Utilize College Resources||Ch. 8- Engage in Work-Based Learning|
|Ch. 4- Get Professional||Ch. 9- Look at Your Options Abroad|
|Ch. 5- Assess the College Graduate Job Market||Ch. 10- Take Advantage of Every Opportunity|
|Ch. 11- Flexibility is Key|
Part I: Finding Your Passion
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Surely you’ve heard this saying, which has been attributed to everyone from Confucius to Marc Anthony. Regardless of its origin, this is good advice.
If you can find out what gets you excited and pursue a career in that, you’ll feel consistently motivated and influential in your work.
Find your “free square” (something you’re naturally good at or something you’ve always enjoyed, etc.). Knowing what motivates you is essential for finding the right career for you. From reliable sources, here are a few practical ways to figure out what you love – with your best career interest in mind. Complete with step-by-step instructions and infographics, these resources are invaluable in finding out what gets you excited.
- Find an approach that works for you
- “Creativity Exercises” to help you in the process
- Keep your future career in mind
Study something you’re interested in first, and then find out how that will be helpful in a potential career path. What questions you should ask? Which important statistics should you keep in mind when choosing a major? The answers can be a little overwhelming and stressful. To help with that, there’s some calming advice mixed in as well.
- Talk to a college adviser, professors, older students – Ask good questions!
- Pursue your passion, but keep the facts in mind
- It isn’t the end of the world if your major doesn’t turn out to be your favorite subject
College career centers are an invaluable resource. They can help with job searches, resume and cover letter writing, and even finding out your potential career interests. Students who go to their school’s career centers for help tend to be more successful in the job hunt. It’s never too late to go to them for help; even if you just drop in to meet the staff, they might be able to answer some of your most pressing questions.
- The numbers prove it: college career centers are a big help!
- Your school’s career center is built to cater to students’ needs
- The career center can get you a job faster after graduation
- Take action earlier rather than later
Prepare yourself for success in a professional setting, whether this is in person, over the phone, or even online. Appearing professional can be made simple with these tips, but keep in mind that it’s also one of the most important aspects of being successful in your search for a career. Impressive résumés, clean LinkedIn profiles, and preparedness for interviews will all ensure you’ll be taken seriously when networking in the alumni network, job market, and wherever else you turn.
- Clean up your social media profiles and update your contact information
- Search online for tips of all kinds, including ways to navigate the hard stuff (like interviews)
- Make yourself accessible by creating a professional online presence
- Last, but certainly not least, perfect your résumé
Is the kind of career you’re looking for widely available? Is it easy or difficult to find a job in this field? What kind of skills do you have that would be beneficial in this kind of job? Finding out the answers to these questions is important to keeping your expectations realistic, as well as knowing exactly what you have to do to be prepared and successful in your career field.
- List of jobs for college graduates that are predicted to have the most openings in the next few years
- Keep your passion in mind – money can be important, but your happiness is key
Part II: Turning Your Passion into a Career
Now comes the next important step in this process, executing the plan and finding a career that incorporates (or even revolves around) your passion. Research has shown that the happiest people say that being able to work in an area they are passionate about has contributed significantly to their overall happiness.
How have people made entire careers working in the field you’re passionate about? You’ll be successful if you can find a way to integrate your passion with doing something that’s productive and innovative. Here you’ll find inspiration in stories about people who did just that.
- Think carefully about your next steps
- Look for success stories
- …Even in majors that people call “useless”
Once you’ve decided the field in which you’d like to work, become an expert on it! There’s a few surefire ways to find out what you need to know. Once again, use what your school has to offer – career center resources, alumni networks, and more. Or, search online to see what people are doing to be practically successful in that field. Most importantly, talk and interact with the people who are doing it!
- Research job opportunities using your college’s resources or online services
- Shadow someone in that field
This is the kind of thing employers want to see in their potential workers. College students who have had experience with internships or apprenticeships definitely have a leg up on those who don’t. You can find a mentor in your desired field of work, ask them detailed questions about day-to-day tasks and long-term goals, and more. All of these are fantastic ways to test-drive a career and see if it’s for you.
- Internships provide invaluable experience to help you decide on a career path
- Apprenticeships are for those who want to delve deeper into a particular field
- Opportunities often present themselves online, but you should also talk to adults in your life that have your same interests
Work or study abroad to expand your career skills and opportunities, especially if your college gives financial aid to cover these kinds of trips during the school year or summer. Employers love to see worldwide experience, and taking advantage of your school’s resources in this area is smart.
- The upsides of studying abroad are clear…
- …And the numbers back up these career benefits
- Worried about covering the cost of the trip? Talk to your school’s Off Campus Studies office and find out if financial aid is available
Internships, networking, and personal connections will all be helpful in the long run when you are looking for a head-start on a career path. These kinds of opportunities present themselves in many different ways, whether that’s through other people, job openings, or even career-focused workshops at your school.
- Keep an eye out for any chance to further yourself or your skills – at school and outside of the classroom
- The benefits of networking are endless
People change, the world changes, there’s no perfect career, and you can only plan so far ahead. A job is not forever, and failing (a couple times!) is perfectly normal. Your major doesn’t dictate what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life, and the ability to be flexible is important in any career path.
- Maybe your major ends up not matching up with your dream career – you’ll be okay
- Be able to adapt – it’s what employers are looking for
- Some widespread myths about career choices
- Really! – failure is just fine
Got any more career advice for college students?
If you have tips or tricks which have worked for you that we don’t have in our guidebook, let us know in the comments below!