I am proud of you for returning to college as an adult. It’s rare for a child to have the opportunity to dispense advice to their parent; I graduated from Georgia College in 2010 and have found my way in the world. You’ll graduate in May and I am happy that you’ve already tackled the biggest hurdles:
-You have a place to live after college.
-You know which geographic area to search for jobs.
-Your social media activity is squeaky clean.
Below are 10 things I wish someone had told me before graduation:
1. Get contact information from your favorite professors. They may retire or change jobs and then the campus directory will not be as helpful. Stay in contact with them so you can give them credit when you make a big career win.
2. Set up an email account not associated with your university. Something along the lines of FirstName.LastName@gmail.com will identify you and you’ll have access to it for longer than the university-given account.
3. Stop by your university’s career center. They can check your resume and even hold mock interviews. You will probably still have access after you graduate and you’ll want to familiarize yourself with their resources before trips to campus become less convenient.
4. Update your LinkedIn profile. Now is the time to add industry-specific keywords to your summary. You want to stand out to recruiters and hiring managers want to see something in your summary besides “Recent graduate.”
5. Start scheduling informational interviews. Think you know which company you would like to work for? Use your network to request an informational interview to get to know the culture of the company. This is a great opportunity to find out more about the candidates they are looking for without the pressure of needing a job right away.
6. Let your network know your plans after college. You never know when someone will know someone who does exactly what you want to do. My last semester in college I used my extended network to reach out to Joggling Board Press for an internship with their independent publishing company. I learned a lot and it lead to other opportunities in the publishing world.
7. Order extra copies of your final transcript. If you decide to attend graduate school, it’s convenient to have a spare handy. Some potential employers may request a copy, too! You can keep the surplus in a drawer until you need one.
8. Keep a side gig. The years of working for one or two companies until retirement are long past. Know and leverage your skills for additional income. Becoming better at what you do outside of work will help you excel at your job inside the office as well.
9. Your first job after college may not be your dream job. Do something every day to advance your career. Know your 5-year and 10-year plans and keep yourself on track with your goals. Your goals can shift and adapt as situations change and staying mindful of where you are versus where you want to be will keep you moving forward.
10. Your education isn’t finished. Register for Coursera or a similar site and keep your knowledge current. You can learn skills ranging from Business Ethics to Digital Marketing.
You have a lot of accomplishments and you are ready for the world outside of college. I look forward to watching you succeed.