Congratulations on earning your degree! Now that the graduation parties are over and the millionth person has congratulated you on finally entering the “real world,” it’s time to hang up your grad cap and start actually applying for your first post-graduate job.
But if you don’t have a gig lined up after commencement, don’t stress!
We tapped 26-year-old WayUp CEO and Google alumna Liz Wessel to share her amazing tips for slaying the job hunt fresh out of college. Read on for her inspiring advice!
1. Don’t Panic! Companies are Still Hiring
This time last year, only 21 percent of graduating seniors had accepted their first post-graduate job offer before graduation. So if you’re not employed yet, you’re not alone! Many companies (including startups like WayUp) won’t recruit seniors until within one to two months of when someone can start working. This is especially true for fast-growing firms because their hiring needs change so quickly. Amazing companies (like Unileverand CDW) are hiring recent grads through the summer and even into the fall. So, don’t panic — just apply!
2. Keep an Open Mind
It’s important to keep an open mind on your job search — especially when it comes to looking into different industries and different-sized companies. For example, if you want to go into finance, think about working at a smaller, boutique shop. All of finance doesn’t exist just on Wall Street! In addition, think outside of the box when it comes to the industry you choose. On WayUp, companies like L’Oreal are actually hiring for entry-level finance roles, not just for the roles you otherwise may think of (like Supply Chain Management). The same can be said for most companies!
3. Consider New Locations
Take graduation as an opportunity to change up your location — explore a new city or even a new country! Working in a new, unfamiliar place can be great for many reasons, including a lower cost of living, broader professional opportunities, and the chance to experience a new culture. I remember when I entered Penn as a freshman I thought I’d return home to New York City the moment I graduated. However, I’m so happy that I followed my dream job — instead of my dream location — even though it took me to the opposite side of the country. In fact, I ended up making some lifelong friends there who I still visit all the time! Meanwhile, many of my friends who have stayed in one place since graduation regret not having lived elsewhere yet.
4. Be Bold
It’s important to be bold and put yourself out there when looking for your first post-graduate job. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big believer in cold-emailing people. I remember the way I got one summer internship was cold-emailing an alumnus from my school who was working in Tokyo in finance, which was what I wanted to do that summer. Several emails and phone calls later, I got the internship!
5. Do Your Homework, and Always Follow Up
When interviewing for a new position, do your homework on the organization beforehand and graciously follow up after. I promise that by doing this, you’ll stick out (in a good way!) from other candidates. An acronym I like to use to describe the perfect interview process is REAF: Research (ahead of time), Enthusiasm (show it!), Ask questions (throughout the interview), Follow up (after the interview).
6. Own Your Experiences
Even though you don’t have 10 (or even five) years of work experience, I’m sure there are certainly valuable skills and lessons you picked up in college… even in high school. If you were a barista, you learned about customer service and attention to detail. Maybe you were a camp counselor? You probably demonstrated responsibility and creativity. Just be yourself and be proud of your accomplishments. Also, insider tip: When you see a job that says ‘requires one to three years’ experience,’ apply anyway! This is just business lingo for ‘entry-level.’ Though I will say that one big factor in why we built WayUp was to help people with minimal experience to find amazing jobs they’re qualified for!
Don’t be discouraged. Have confidence. With a little effort and the advice above, you will find your first post-graduate job.
After all, it’s the reason you went to school in the first place.
For this post, we’d like to thank our friends at Levo.