It may seem obvious what you should do after college – get a job, buy a house, get married, have kids, contribute responsibly to society. But as many of us know, it’s not that simple. Additionally, there are many small steps in between that a recent college grad should do to get started on the journey towards a successful professional career:
- Write down life goals – Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Determine what your biggest goals are. Then write them down and share them with a friend. It may sound a little silly, but research studies have found that this simple action can make a big difference.
- Rewrite your resume – Don’t think that the same resume you’ve been peddling around which still lists your high school diploma and Boy Scouts membership will get you an interview at a professional company. Do your research – find a couple of very impressive resumes online and mimic them. Better yet, have someone with Human Resource experience edit your resume for you.
- Update your LinkedIn profile (and rebrand your social media profiles) – We’re living in the future now – so don’t be surprised that employers are doing online research on their potential hires. This means that you need to have your digital persona represent your as professionally as you’d like to be treated. If that means setting those Spring Break-in-Cancun photos into private mode or removing them entirely, so be it.
- Get an internship – Some people complete internships during their studies, but there are also opportunities available after graduation. There are internships that do pay. But, whether they are paid or not, they can provide you with valuable on-the-job experience. It could even lead to a full-time job since a lot of companies end up hiring the interns that really impress them.
- Network – Ask anyone who’s been lucky enough to get that dream job – it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.
- Attend a professional conference – This goes hand-in-hand with networking. The quickest and easiest way to dive into an industry is to attend a professional conference. You’ll meet (and hopefully network) with many companies and their leaders. Additionally, you can learn a lot through workshops and seminars.
- Obtain an industry certification – If you don’t know what to do after college, then you may want to consider pursuing recognized industry credentials that could help boost your professional status. For example, if you completed a technology program, then there are almost countless certifications that you could attain ranging from networking to cloud computing. Having certifications, in addition to your post-secondary education, can help you stand out from other job applicants, which is a plus regardless of your career field.
- Develop a workout routine – If you haven’t got one already, forming good, healthy habits now can only benefit you as you get older. And when you are young and have lots of energy, it’s a great time to explore a variety of activities and attend different classes to find something enjoyable that also helps keep you fit and healthy.
- Start a savings or investment account – Like budgets, opening savings and investment accounts are some of the things that you do as an adult. It certainly doesn’t mean that you have to save or invest all of your money. You can start small and simply put away $25 a month. It’s never too early to get started, no amount is too small to put away, and it’s a great habit to form while you are young.
- Start a business – Initially, this may sound impossible, but the reality is that your 20’s can be a great time to take a risk and start a business. That’s because you’re typically more tolerant of risk, can bounce back from failure more easily, and are energetic, adaptable, and motivated. Big bonus: you’ll learn a lot about what it takes to start and manage a company – valuable experience that you can boast about and apply later.
Kue has a Masters in Business Administrations (MBA) from California State University, Fresno. He works as the Director of Education and Outreach for the California Department of Business Oversight in addition to being a contributing writer for news, business, and international blogs. He has also written, directed, and produced an award-winning film as well as authored several books on business, philosophy, and Asian folk lore.