I'm Graduating College…Now What?

I have a lot of friends who are seniors in college, so I spend quite a bit of time talking with them about ::gasp:: GRADUATING (insert horror movie scream here).  College, like Disneyworld, could probably be considered the happiest place on earth. You sleep in until 10 on most days, and go out and drink crappy beer with your best friends every night. Unlike high school, you actually take classes in things that you find mildly to insanely interesting. Also unlike high school, if someone is obnoxious you can choose never to see him/her again.  It’s basically utopia that costs approximately $50,000 a year.

Many people see the end of college quickly approaching and panic about what to do next. I know you had high hopes that you would be tapped to fill Oprah Winfrey’s spot, or that MTV would call you to revive “TRL,” but it’s just not happening right now. That’s okay. I’ve got some other tried-and-true post-college plans (my friends from the class of 2010 and I were your guinea pigs).

1.) Intern. I know it’s not the sexiest way to use your degree, especially if you paid a LOT of money for said-degree, but interning is often the fastest way to get hired at your dream company.  My good friend from college had his heart set on working for ESPN. There were no openings when we graduated, so he opted for an internship. He made some good connections, and as his internship was ending he was told that there would be a full-time job opening up soon. He was able to fill the job opening before it was posted anywhere.  Interning is certainly not the most glamorous thing in the world, but it can put you in a position to meet the right people.  I don’t need to explain to you why this is so important.

2.) Look for a job at a small(er) business. Yes, I am biased. I work for a small(ish) business. But, I think my bias means that I am more qualified to tell you about the great things small businesses have to offer. I started at my company as the producer of a sports talk show. Now I manage all of our social media/websites. I love my job and I love my co-workers. Perfection. The flexibility I was able to have in moving from one department to a completely different one would have been a lot harder to find in a large company/mega-corporation.  It’s pretty common to get pigeon-holed when you work with hundreds of other people and your boss barely knows your name. If you’re a producer they will usually try to keep you as a producer. If you want to get into social media you’ll probably have to go work for an entirely different business. Smaller businesses are also good places for college grads to start because you can get more hands-on coaching from experienced co-workers/supervisors. This feedback and advice is valuable when you’re trying to move up in your chosen field.

3.) Volunteer for a worthy organization. There are dozens of service groups out there designed for recent college grads. You can give a year (or more) of your time to one of these groups, and get a lot out of it. I’ve had friends who have done programs like Americorps, City Year, and Teach for America when they graduated, and all have had terrific experiences. Many of these programs are competitive, so future employers are impressed when they see them on your resume. The programs also benefit your community, so you can feel like you’re spending your time wisely.

4.) Grad School. If you’re passionate about an area but know you need more education to get the best possible (or any) job, then grad school is probably the best option.  If you went to school for one subject but dreamed about majoring in another (and couldn’t for whatever reason), grad school may be worth investigating. If you’ve wanted to be a lawyer since you were ten, go to law school. If you graduated with a psychology major and have no idea what you want to do now (but don’t want to work at Starbucks) then grad school is not the way to go. You will come out with even more debt and probably not much more of an idea about what you want to do. Keep in mind that you don’t need to make a decision about grad school righthisverysecond. It’s pretty common to go back to grad school after working in the real world for a few years.

5.) Job Shadow. This sounds very high school, but you’re never too old to do this. If you know someone (or know someone who knows someone) who has your dream job, ask them if you can observe them for a day (in a non-creepy way of course). You’ll get a good idea of what it’s actually like to do that particular job, and it will probably help you to see the good AND the bad things that go into having that job. You’ll have a better understanding about if the job is something you could see yourself doing.

I will leave you with this gem. This is C and me on graduation day.  Don’t we look like we could be on a brochure for our school? How do we make this happen?

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Comments

  1. Bravo, enjoyable read. Even though I’m only in high school, I visualize me in my future working environment, and I must take any steps necessary to apprehend my vision. This was a moderately informative essay that had cute undertones that kept me reading. Thanks.

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