You're completing your degree and contemplating what your next steps will be. With all the knowledge and skills you've developed through your studies and internships or work experiences, you're full of enthusiasm and ready to take on the world. So how will you locate the opportunity that will enable you to put all that you've learned to work?
In my experience, both as a counselor in a university career planning office and as an independent career consultant, I've found that many recent grads look too narrowly at the job search or career-building resources at their disposal. To broaden your perspective, I'd like to share my "top 10" resources.
10. Follow news and developments in your career field
As you prepare to enter (or re-enter) the full-time workforce and engage in an intensive job search, it's still critical that you keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date. Attend meetings of professional associations, read professional publications, follow online blogs, and join online professional groups. You'll maintain a good overview of what's going on in your field and be better prepared to discuss new trends during an interview.
9. Use the resources at your alma mater
The career services office at your alma mater will most likely not deliver you a job on a silver platter--that's an unrealistic expectation. The counselors there are, however, a great resource to assist you with building your resume, guiding you through a mock interview, and providing advice on job search strategies. In addition, the alumni office may be able to provide contact information for friendly alumni working in a geographic area where you want to relocate. Be sure that you are using the resources of both the career services and alumni offices.
8. Promote your internships and volunteer experiences
Your newly minted degree is a wonderful thing, but also pretty much expected by a potential employer. Your internships and related professional experience (even volunteer) will really help sell you to a prospective employer. Look at the position descriptions for any position you apply for, and make sure that you are fully incorporating the skills you've developed, even if your experience wasn't full-time or paid.
7. Network in person
Business networking online is a wonderful and powerful tool to assist in your job search and with building your career. Nothing, however, is as powerful as face-to-face interaction. You must seek out opportunities to network in person with other professionals in your field. Don't just randomly attend professional meetings or networking events, but volunteer to help coordinate. Volunteering will make it easier to network and meet people because you'll have a purpose at the meeting or event.
6. Arrange informational meetings
Another way to build an in-person network is to arrange informational meetings with people working in your field. The overt purpose is not to find a job, but to gather information about what is going on within the individual's profession or inside their organization. You need to approach the informational meeting with a list of well-planned questions and a goal for exactly what kinds of information you want to gather. You're likely to build a network of advocates who will support you and look out for opportunities for you.