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You've Graduated...Now What?!

You did it!  You graduated!  You overcame challenges, you stuck with it, and you managed to achieve your goal!  Congratulations!  You had your ceremony in June, you enjoyed your summer, and now you are beginning to wonder what's next for you.  If you are being honest, you would have to admit that you kind of miss the structure of going to class each day, knowing when your assignments are due, and overall having everything laid out for you.  Now, you have to figure out everything on your own.  There is nothing that you 'have' to do, but somehow you need to find a way to start your career.  Here are some tips that will help you manage this transition:

Set a goal.  If you don't know what you are looking for, you will never be able to find it!  This is not your ultimate dream job goal, but what you are hoping to achieve in the near future- the next step in your career.  Are you looking for an entry level job in a bank?  An administrative position in a marketing department?  Or are you hoping to find a job teaching English in Japan?  The more specific your goal is, the more it will focus your job search strategy. 

Create a resume.  Once you have a goal in mind, you can customize your resume to your target job.  Make sure that you highlight all of your related skills and experience in your resume.  Of course you will further customize your resume for each individual position, but it is quicker and easier if you are working from an existing template.  If possible, ask a previous teacher or someone in your network to review your resume for you.

Start actively networking.    Whether you are aware of it or not, you have been networking for your entire life.  The people who you have met; your coworkers from your part time job, your classmates, your teachers, and your team mates on your soccer team, are all part of your network.  Now it is time for you to be more organized and deliberate in your networking efforts.  Make a list of all of the people in your network and put a star next to the ones who might be able to help you in your career.  Start to reach out to people and tell them that you are looking for a job.  You never know who will give you that golden opportunity.

Get your finances in order.  Now is the perfect time to start living within a budget.  When you don't have an income, limiting your expenses is extremely important.  If you can develop this essential skill now, it will be an asset for your entire life.  If you have a student loan, you may have to start paying it back within six months of graduation.  It is important that you have a plan so that you are able to afford your basic necessities while protecting your credit rating. 

Manage your expectations.  The job search process is much more difficult and frustrating when your expectations are unrealistic.  If you are thinking that you will receive a few intermediate level job offers within a few weeks of starting your job search, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  Most people have to send out 100 applications just to get five interviews and even then an offer isn't guaranteed.  Also, as a new graduate, you will likely have to start out with an entry level position. 

Looking for your first job after graduation can be intimidating and discouraging, but don't despair.  Employers are looking for someone with your fresh eyes and enthusiasm.  Keep trying and you will find the right employer for you!  Good luck!

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)