Completed Your Degree, Now What?

It can be a harrowing experience when you have reached the end of that fantastic journey called the college years. For four years you have grown accustomed to the network of friends, familiar faces in academic circles as well as a social life that gives you the awesome feeling of belonging. You work hard at securing the best GPA (grade point average) that will prove you are not wasting your loan, scholarship or funds from your college fund. Life is good!

To Sir With Love
Retrieved from Google Images, February 14, 2014

On graduation day, the excitement is palpable. Congratulatory messages are in abundance. Smiling faces, laughter, hugs, kisses, dinners, presents and of course the paper that deems you ready to take on the world. Degree in hand, you are in a state of readiness.

A month turns to two months then to three months. Rejection letters sit in a pile on your desk. The safety net that once was is no more. Frustration mounts as leads do not materialize to gainful employment.

We all nurse ideals about the kinds of jobs we want in the future and we have been told that getting a degree is a first step to mobility. Of course many professions lead to employment as there is a market that is ready and waiting for such skill sets. I think immediately about medical doctors, mechanical/civil engineers, IT software-developers, to name a few. Other young professionals may experience a difficult time in getting the kinds of employment that is aligned to their area of study.

What to do?

In speaking with a few graduates, I have put together a list of possibilities that may provide a catalyst to get us on our way.

  • Research trending jobs and the projected longevity of such careers. Research emerging programs like Gerontology and the kinds of opportunities that are likely to exist in the future.
  • Acknowledge that career choices will change. I have met many people who started program(s) and was met with an emptiness. It did not quite fit.
  • Become an integral part of community groups. Volunteer your time in activities that you are truly interested in. It is not enough to do so because it meets the requirement of your resume.
  • Find mentors and demonstrate your interest in learning.
  • As a graduate, you have a number of skill sets, honed from activities honed in your previous ‘campus life’. Value exists in those untapped skills. Do an inventory and you will be amazed at what you can bring to the table.
  • Your resume or C.V. is a gate-opener. It has to get past a gate-keeper. What will it take? Invest time to get your resume to top frame. Remove unnecessary data that has no bearing on the jobs of interest. Utilize the resources at your school such as the career center and so on. They are in a position to help you  with your resume. The aim is stand out and to encourage the reviewer to see you.
  • Consider being an entrepreneur. What is it that people need that you are able to provide, legally speaking. Perhaps you could run a number of training programs, gratis, to build your credibility in the market. Organizations are looking for the best and brightest to be a part of their growth. Show them what you have been doing.
  • The last thing is to not wait. Be assertive. Make a plan of what you want. I really mean a written, organized plan of what you want and how you plan to get to your destination. Visuals are powerful tools, reminders if you will about what you hold dear.
  • Network, network, network. Linkedin, as a professional site, is more than a Facebook page. There are powerful narratives from the best and brightest in the world of business, science and academia. Read their thoughts and perhaps their vision may resonate with ideas that you have been cooking for some time. Become a member of groups, share your thoughts and experience the rich data that is available.
  • Lastly, do not wait until you have completed your study to begin the process of building rapport with people in your field of interest. The graduates also spoke about moving outside of your comfort zone and building relationships with others who are not necessarily in your field. Ideas do evolve when there is diversity in a multicultural environment.

Harness the energy and transform your trepidation and frustrations into models for success.

© Suzette Henry-Campbell 2014

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