This post is all about things you must do before graduating college so you’re ready to get hired and enter the job force..
We get it. It’s your senior year. Senioritis has kicked in big time, and it feels like these last few classes are both dragging and flying by with lightning speed.
Don’t worry. You’ll get to walk across that graduation stage soon enough. In the meantime, there are some things you need to do before you graduate.
Senior year isn’t all fun and games after all. (I wish!)
If you make a point of doing each of the things on this list, you’ll be that much more prepared for the real world post-graduation.
What To Do Before Graduating College
Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts
This should be one of the first things you do since it will take a little while to build and maintain the habit of professionalism online.
One option is to set your accounts to a high privacy setting so that casual observers won’t be able to see your details. But, that won’t protect you from friends posting on your wall if they don’t have similarly strict settings.
Another is to set up multiple accounts, a fun account under another name and a professional account using your legal name and a professional photo. But that’s less professional (and more likely to fail) that just maintaining one professional account.
Go through your photos (all of them) and the last couple of months of posts as if you were a job recruiter. Take down any content that you don’t think an HR department would approve of, and try to maintain that high standard from here on.
Even if your future employer doesn’t tell you, they may pull up your social media account. If you list your job, they may also keep tabs on your account after you’ve been hired. Better to build good habits now.
Even if your future boss drinks seventeen margaritas on Taco Tuesdays, you’ll still get judged for that one picture of you drinking a beer on vacation. Yes, it’s hypocrisy, but that’s the real world.
LinkedIn and Other Networking Sites:
While we’re talking about social media, now is the time to invest your time in social networking websites. Your college probably works with a couple of these, like Handshake, but LinkedIn is another good option. Get a professional-looking photo and start building your profile and making connections.
You never know when a random connection might help you land your dream job.
Visit the Career Center
No really. Your college has a vested interest in making sure you get employment with a good company and lots of upward mobility.
Not only are they hoping that you’ll eventually send your kids to go to school at the old alma mater, but they’re also depending on your success to maintain their metrics.
Incoming freshmen can see how well alumni do in the first several years after graduation. Good statistics for gaining employment and high salaries after graduation look a lot better than alumni who went back to working at a fast-food joint.
Your career center can help with some of the other steps on this list, like mock interviews and resume prep. But they may be most useful in helping you figure out what industries you’d be interested in joining.
If you have a degree you’re worried about selling to employers, the career center will be able to help with that too. Not only are there reasons for tech companies to hire liberal arts majors, but there are also important reasons for them to hire liberal arts majors.
Not only will your career center have a good idea of what kind of work your degree has prepared you for, but they’ll also know exactly how you can sell it to recruiters.
Don’t let this valuable resource go to waste. Talk with them. See if they can help you find networking events, hiring fairs, and even internship opportunities in your area.
Decide if You Want or Need an Internship
While we’re talking about internships, this is another big decision you should make before you graduate. If you want an internship, chances are you’ll need to be competing for a slot with your preferred company months before the internship begins.
Some jobs will look for a previous internship during the hiring process, so you should research whether an internship increases your hiring potential in your chosen field.
At the same time, you should also consider whether you can afford an internship.
Internships are usually unpaid or low-paid. While you have a couple of months before student loans kick in after graduation, your other finances still may mean that a full-time internship is out of reach.
Talk to your career center if you’re worried that you need an internship and can’t afford one. They may have some advice for alternatives that will still look good on your resume and attract recruiters.
Prep Your Resume
You’ll end up re-visiting your resume for almost every job application, but it’s still a good idea to put together a general template before you graduate.
This version of your resume should be the most exhaustive version you make. Include all your skills, software proficiencies, previous experience, volunteer work, everything. Go ahead and include you’re anticipated graduation date, and your anticipated GPA if it’s over a 3.5.
Ideally, this list should be pretty bulky. Don’t worry, when you’re fine-tuning your resume, you’ll be picking more selectively to show how you would fit into a particular job.
One good way to practice is to find a job you’d want to apply for and prep a resume for it. Whether or not you actually apply is up to you. But you should show the job, and both versions of your resume, to a couple of peers for critique.
Once you’ve gotten peer critique, take both resumes to your career center and go through the same process with them.
Practice Mock Interviews
Now that you have a resume, it’s time for mock interviews. Ideally, this is another activity for the career center. But you can also practice with a friend if that makes you more comfortable.
Another alternative is to talk to your professors and see if they would be willing to conduct a practice interview with you.
Different people will have different interviewing perspectives and techniques, so you should aim to do at least 3 practice interviews, and more would be better.
Doing those things will leave you well-prepared for life after graduation, or at least the job part of it. But there are other things you should do as well.
We recommend visiting your professors during office hours. Don’t ask them about class, or your grades, or what to expect on the final. Visit them to have a real conversation. Ask them what advice they wish they’d gotten right before graduation.
Sit down and put together a budget. No, don’t plan on making $100,000 right out the gate. Put together a realistic budget using rent averages, your majors average income in the year after graduation, and other real numbers.
Lastly, have some fun. Spend time in the Library. Take advantage of any unique opportunities or experiences your school can offer you. There are few times in your life where you will have this much opportunity and so many supports and resources. Use them!
Oh, one more thing. Celebrate!! You did it!
Congratulations on your graduation!
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