First and foremost, congratulations! You did it!
Everyone knows the past few years have not been easy. As a 2020 graduate myself, I know how tough the world of Zoom classes, missed football games, and lost commencements can be. It can be isolating at times. Through those trials and tribulations, you decided to persevere through adversity and finish what you started.
After committing a few years to pursuing your degree and with it now coming to an end, it probably feels bittersweet.
I know when I graduated I had so many questions like: how can I apply my passions professionally? What company is going to pay someone with no professional experience? What companies are hiring?
After almost three years of building my career post-grad, here is the advice I would give to my 21-year-old self.
Step one is to take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Sit down in a quiet space and reflect on what you want out of your career. Don’t pay attention to what your friends and classmates are doing. There are limited positions and limited companies that offer growth opportunities for entry-level candidates. Find something that fits your needs and wants and don’t settle. You deserve a great company that values the hard work you demonstrated having recently graduated. So invest some time into deciding what you want.
Next, list out the things you are good at. Take time to identify skills that you have fostered or acquired throughout your life thus far. These are sometimes things we don’t immediately see that we have like time management, organizational skills, planning, leading, relationship building, teamwork, preparation, etc. Once you know what you are good at, think about where you can improve. No one is perfect and that’s perfectly fine; however, it’s our responsibility to be aware of areas of opportunity to continue to learn and grow. See if a company offers training, coaching, and mentoring to foster these existing skills while teaching new ones.
When looking through roles, have an open mind. Understand that there is an opportunity even in the positions you couldn’t imagine yourself doing. Take a chance! Your twenties are meant for you to take risks, make mistakes, try new things, and gain perspective. The more shots you take, the more likely you are to find exactly what we’re looking for.
Remember, companies have a hiring team dedicated to finding the best people for their company. Expect companies to reach out to you through any medium. Make sure you’re easy to access by answering unknown phone numbers and checking your email regularly. In my experience as a recruiter, if I cannot reach a candidate, I have to move on to another.
A company could call you at any time so it’s also a good idea to have some talking points about yourself prepared. What can you bring to a company, what skills you are looking to learn, and what are some goals you strive to reach in the next few years? This shows you are serious about your career and helps you to stand apart.
Lastly, be humble. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. There is a whole team behind every company that takes the time to review, schedule, interview, deliberate, and provide you with the best interview process possible. Interviewing is a great opportunity to talk about how amazing you are, but make sure to thank those providing you with that opportunity as well. Gratitude goes a long way in the eye of an employer.
One chapter of your life is coming to an end but an exciting new one awaits you. You are more mature and are now equipped with the tools necessary to kickstart a successful career in whichever path you decide to put your best foot forward.
Have fun and enjoy the process.
Coast Inc., HR and Recruiting Manager