College Grad…..Now What?
For many college students spring is a stressful time of change and uncertainty. Anxiety builds as your college career comes to a close and you face the reality of the “real world” and securing a “dream job”. In our career coaching business we see countless anxiety-ridden students worried about their future. So here are five tips to help you conquer the pressure and anxiety of transitioning from college to career.
1. Define your goal(s) – If you are lucky enough to know exactly what you want to do…CONGRATULATIONS. The vast majority of college students have several possible career paths and guess what…that is okay! However, you should define exactly what those options are and be able to articulate them to other people. Be able to state what you are interested in doing and then take it a step further by stating how it plays to your strengths/skills/interests.
2. Refine your pitch – You will have countless friends, neighbors, professors and employers asking you what you want to do so be ready with an answer. Your elevator pitch should clearly and concisely tell your story, address your goals, and explain why you will be successful. Practice your pitch until it sounds natural and conversational.
3. Make a plan – Antonie de Saint-Exupery famously said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Randomly applying to positions and talking with anyone and everyone can wear on even the most optimistic person. It can feel like you are running in place and getting nowhere fast.
However, if you have a plan with daily and weekly goals, everything you do feels like a step forward. Develop a career action plan that details your target industries, companies and roles. Then list out everyone you know or want to know at those companies. Hyperlink or bookmark your favorite job boards and set up saved searches so you can quickly and easily view openings. Finally, set daily and weekly activity goals to keep yourself on track and motivated. These goals should be action-oriented, i.e. reach out to three new contacts each day or have two coffees each week. Hang your career action plan up and refer to it daily.
4. Network – This stage of life can get a little lonely. You are leaving college friends, moving back home where everything seems to have changed. Make a concerted effort to reach out to friends and talk about the challenges you are facing. We guarantee you aren’t alone! Hearing that someone else feels the same way you do can be just the kind of support you need.
5. Be Active – Sitting in your parents’ basement watching movies may seem fun but will demotivate you fast! Get outside, go for a walk, or go work out. Let some vitamin D and endorphins lift your spirits and give you the motivation you need.
We also want to put this all into perspective. Your first job is very rarely your last. This is the first step on your career journey, so let that fact sink in and relieve some of the pressure. You don’t need to find a “dream job”, you do need to find a good job, that you will enjoy, and that will move you forward in your career. So embrace the unknown and ENJOY THE JOURNEY.
Audra Emerson is a passionate speaker, trainer and career coach with over 20 years of experience in recruiting and human resources. She is Co-Founder of CareerPrep LLC, a coaching, training and professional development firm that helps young adults find their way to a great career. Through private coaching, workshops, and college programs they provide students the tools, knowledge, and confidence to launch successful careers.