Finding out how to get a job after college is a huge stress for many graduates.
Graduating college can be terrifying. You’ve been in school pretty much your whole life—at least as long as you can remember. Now, though, school is over and what next? How do you figure out how to get a job–especially your first “real” job?
The workplace is a very competitive environment and, more often than not, you need to have a lot of patience and great work ethic if you’re going to get to where you’d ideally like to be. And even then, nothing’s guaranteed. But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, and it definitely doesn’t mean you should give up.
Instead, I want to show you some things you can start doing now as a college student or recent grad that will help you achieve your career goals and gain some excellent connections along the way.
1. Change your mindset
No, you don’t want to flip burgers forever. But maybe a job at a place like McDonald’s isn’t so bad for a little bit. Here’s the thing: it’s better to have glowing letters of recommendation from a lower-status job than to have none because you didn’t work at all. Also, a lot of these jobs actually give you amazing work experience—they teach you customer service, how to follow protocol, how to work hard and efficiently, to name a few.
As well, maybe you need to be looking for jobs in a completely different area than you may expect. If there aren’t any jobs in your field currently, then look at what kinds of requirements the positions you want have and try to find jobs that fit those requirements. That way, when the position you want becomes available, you’ll be qualified. Shift your mindset from an all-or-nothing point of view where you can’t be content unless you have your perfect job to one where you can address the problem at hand: finding a job that will get you where you want to be eventually.
The truth is, this is a very competitive work world and you’ve got to be able to stand up to that competition. Look honestly at your experience and figure out where the holes are. Then fill them.
2. Start early
As soon as you can, try to get a wide array of experiences that will help you with your career goals. Are you reading this in high school? Look for an interesting summer job where you are forced to learn new skills you wouldn’t have otherwise acquired. In high school I worked at an accounting firm, taught aqua-aerobics to seniors, and was a swimming teacher at a deaf school (before I knew any ASL at all). And those were only a few of my jobs.
Look for weird jobs you otherwise wouldn’t apply for and don’t be afraid to push yourself! I was terrified for all three of those jobs I listed and I ended up thoroughly enjoying all of them.
3. Be a good worker
Above all, you need to be someone who is reliable, responsible, and honest. It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve been working for how long, if you’re a terrible worker you’re not going to get that promotion, that great connection, or that glowing recommendation.
There are a lot of things that can be very easy to do because “everyone does it” at work. Calling in sick when you really just don’t want to go to work that day, taking a few pens from the office or some food from the kitchen, showing up a bit late every now and then, or leaving 10 minutes before your shift is over.
Listen to me carefully: even if they seem harmless, these are things that you should never ever do if you want to be successful later.
It doesn’t matter if it was a volunteer position, a part-time job at McDonald’s, or an internship at a law firm. You need to be a hard worker, a responsible worker, and an honest worker if you want success.
There is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to find a job with a university education. You’ve worked hard so far, and it’s a real accomplishment to graduate from university! So start working now to show future employers that you’re worth the investment–that you’re the kind of person they want on their team.
What are some things that have helped you get a job in the past? What are some things you did in college or high school that can help you in the future? Let’s chat about it in the comments!
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