After graduating college, there is both internal and external pressure to quickly find a job. While securing employment is obviously important, this is the beginning of a new career for you. You absolutely deserve to find something that appeals to your sensibilities and piques your interest. So, rather than rushing into something that’s not a good fit, here are four ideas for figuring out what job might be the perfect one for you.
What Interests Are Important to You?
When beginning the job search, it’s important to consider which of your interests are most important to you. You have spent four years exploring different areas of a major, taking classes in a variety of focuses as they apply to your study. Rank these courses and think about how each one impacted you. The goal here is to find out not just what you’re good at, but what engages and inspires you to do it. For instance, a marketing major will be entering an incredibly wide and varied field with all kinds of industries and chances to put their talents to work. Why not leverage those differences, and enjoy a chance to be choosy for once?
It’s also a good idea to consider your own personality traits. Maybe you’re a people person, someone who likes to engage on a personal level; you might consider doing field research, focus group testing, or social media marketing. If, instead, you prefer working alone, it may be better to consider doing market analysis or consulting. Again, it’s really a matter of what rings as important and true to you.
The Value of Internships
After four or more years of college, it’s suddenly time for you to give up the student life and become something entirely different: a professional. All the classroom discussions, late-night studying, and the detailed notetaking were just practice for the real thing. Naturally, it can be a bit daunting to go pro for the first time. However, it feels a lot less stressful when you take advantage of an internship while in college. Not only is it real-world experience, it’s also a lower-stress setting to make first-time mistakes and learn from them.
Internships are also a perfect way to test the waters of a particular job or industry, and the experience can help you better understand what an actual day looks like. Though some of the jobs you perform at an internship might be more administrative, these positions also give you an insight into the inner workings of a company, as well as how these organizations fit within a particular industry. Much like a film preview, internships are a great way to catch a glimpse of what lies ahead with a specific career choice.
Internships also provide you with a chance to make valuable connections that serve you going forward. A study performed by the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition found that students who participated in multiple internships were more likely to find employment within six months of graduation. Be sure to engage with management or other professionals with whom you work during these internships, as any of these contacts could potentially lead to a career opportunity after graduation.
Talk to Others in the Field
Another resource for figuring out the right career path is to speak to those who know it first-hand. During your time in school, you undoubtedly met a fair share of these experts in the classroom and office hours. Your professors are there to provide guidance and point out a few important landmarks to look out for along the way. They also know you on a personal level and can discuss where you excelled in class and how that might apply to a chosen career.
Another option is to attend professional networking events as a chance to speak face-to-face with established professionals. The great thing about these events is that they often cover a broad industry or area of interest, such as cloud computing or medical technology sales. Don’t be afraid to approach and introduce yourself to others on the floor. A recent study found that 85 percent of positions were filled through networking, so asking questions and learning from your fellow attendees is an excellent way to show interest, as well as establish some important connections once you’re ready to start applying.
Making Interviews Work for You
Once you’re ready to sit down with employers and start the interview process, it’s vital that you’re learning about their company while they do the same about you. Find out about work style, such as whether people are sitting at desks in the office or working remotely. Ask about benefits and salary, even if it feels awkward to do so. Lastly, do what you can to find out about the culture in the office. In a recent study by Jobvite, 46 percent of applicants reported culture as the most important aspect of a job fit. Even if a position is in the right field, be sure the specific company you choose has the qualities you desire.
Whatever path you choose in your professional life, it is the start of a new era. You’re just getting out into the world, so don’t second guess or settle for something that seems like a bore. Remember to prioritize your interests, build connections through internships and networking, and don’t be afraid to put employers to the test during an interview. If you’re still unsure, don’t forget Alpha Kappa Psi’s amazing alumni network, and let us know if you need assistance getting connected to someone who has been in your shoes.