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What will you be doing after graduating?
The question I recall everyone asking as my graduation day approached last year. I didn’t know what to say, so I always answered differently hoping one of those answers would come true. The college to career transition can be tough. As a 2018 graduate, I’ve seen the ups and downs of not only myself but my peers too. If I could do it all over again, I’d definitely do a better job preparing myself for the post-grad life.
If you have no idea where to start, below I highlight three ways you can prepare yourself before graduation.
Attend networking events
As a college student, you have plenty of resources available to you. I was on the board for two professional clubs on campus that combined for 10 networking events. Whether you are a member of a club or not, you are still welcomed to attend. The more packed the event the better so don’t hesitate to put yourself out there. While attending these events, I recall one speaker in particular. The guest speaker said to us, “Your network is your net worth”. While at the event it first caught my attention because it rhymed. It always stuck with me, and now that I graduated, I see what that speaker meant. Your network is the primary source of all opportunities that come your way! It’s funny because I actually ended up connecting with this professional after graduation, sought his advice, and had a great conversation that inspired me to follow a similar career route. You learn things not taught in the classroom. I noticed my communication skills improved and was able to get my message across much more efficiently. There’s only room to grow by attending these events, so don’t hesitate about going, even if you go alone. I attended many events alone and it’s those that helped the most.
Optimize your LinkedIn
In short, some of the best ways you can optimize your LinkedIn are:
- Change your profile URL to end with /yourname.
- Add your classmates.
- Endorse your connections (they will endorse back).
- Follow pages that relate to your major.
- Take a high-quality professional photo.
- Keep your work experience up to date.
- Add as many sections as possible (skills, certifications, volunteer).
- Write recommendations (you may get one back).
- Interact with connections content.
- Post content that gives back, not just wanting something.
First impressions are everything. It’s 2019, so first impressions online are now just as important as first impressions in real life. I have received direct messages from top corporations and employers through LinkedIn messenger. My peers tell me about the employers that reach out to them as well, so it just goes to show you how powerful LinkedIn is. While you are in college, add your peers! After all, your peers are going to be the future bosses and business owners. But wait, don’t just stop there. Visit your peer’s page and endorse them for skills. I did this for my peers and grateful I did. I now have 30 endorsements for marketing! When people visit your page, having endorsements just strengthens your credibility and definitely gives you a confidence boost. Make sure your information is up to date because as mentioned people will be visiting your profile and you want to be ready for any opportunity that comes your way. Not to mention you get one free month of LinkedIn Premium to see how you rank against the competing applicants. LinkedIn Premium allows you to inbox top recruiters, gives you access to online courses, and just helps you stand out among other applicants. Around this time is when many applications are being sent out, so take advantage of the free month of LinkedIn Premium.
Research the company you’re applying for
After graduating I never thought I would have switched jobs as often as I did. If I could go back I would have definitely researched companies more thoroughly. I was playing a numbers game thinking if I applied everywhere I’d for sure get hired somewhere. In a sense it was true, I did get calls and emails for interviews, but definitely regret some roles I took on. For starters, I’d Google the company. You’d be surprised what you find solely off of a google search. You can find reviews from previous employers, salary for the position you applied for, and get a sense of company culture from their social media. Read the job description carefully, and if you do get to interview with a company be sure to ask the right questions. A question I like to ask is, “What will my day to day look like if I get hired?” While interviewing you want to ask questions too. Value your time and make sure you end up at a job you’ll be proud to work for.
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