How to Land Your First Big-Kid Job

You did it, you graduated college! You walked across that stage and received your diploma, and you took every word of that keynote speech to heart – this is your time, and you matter. You will change the world.

To those lucky individuals who had a job lined up for after graduation since halfway through senior year, congratulations! But for those of you like myself, trying to find employment post-grad can be extremely frustrating. This is not because you’re unqualified, or incapable of doing a fantastic job at whatever you have chosen to pursue. So why does it feel like copies of your resume could rain down from the sky and potential employers still wouldn’t notice you?

Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • Take a Post-Grad Internship

    Chances are, you’ve heard how valuable internships are to gain professional experience and boost your resume – maybe you’ve even had one or two while you were in school. While it’s natural to want a full-time job right away after graduation, interning for a bit has its benefits. I interned for six months after college, and here’s what I learned:

    • You’ll learn more at your internship when you aren’t juggling school and a social life as well. I interned during college primarily so that I could add a line to my resume. Once I no longer had classes and events to distract myself with, I could focus on putting my best effort into my work and learning the most that I could from my supervisors and coworkers.
    • Having an internship gives you more time to figure out what you really want to do. When you jump straight into a full-time job after graduation, you are essentially committed to that career unless you decide to quit and go through the job-hunting process again. Interning allows you to explore your chosen field while knowing that you aren’t committed to sticking with that job long-term.
    •  Internships can lead to full-time jobs, potentially. Some companies hire their interns on full-time if they have the resources and the fit is right. It’s totally acceptable and shows tenacity to ask your supervisor if this could be an option for you. Don’t rely on this option, however, because some companies (like my post-grad internship!) will appreciate how great of a worker you are but will ultimately just not be looking to hire anyone new at that time.
  • Use Your Connections

    • Does the niece of the lady you used to babysit for work at a company you might be interested in? Has one of your professors talked about their past experience in what sounds like your dream job? Did you see a post on your sorority or fraternity alumni Facebook group about a job that could be a fit? Don’t be shy! Contact anyone and everyone (in a professional manner, of course) who could be of benefit to your job search.
    • If someone you know works for a company you’re applying to, shoot them your resume and ask if they’d be comfortable recommending you to HR. If a friend of yours know someone in a field you’re interested in, ask for an introduction. Most people will try to help if they can, after all they were once in your position too. Just don’t forget to send a thank you note to anyone who helps you eventually snag that first job.
  • Be Patient but Proactive

    • Know that finding your first job takes time, and that you may not land your dream job right away. You may end up in a city you weren’t planning on, or in a field slightly different than where you ultimately want to end up. That’s okay! Think of your first job as a chance to learn not only about your career, but about workplace etiquette as well. Adjusting to a full-time job can be tough after college, so take it one day at a time and absorb as much information as you can.

All that being said, keep your ultimate career goals in mind. If you can afford it, don’t take a job that is way off from what you actually want to be doing. Ask someone in your desired field to review your resume and cover letter so you know you’re presenting yourself as best you can to potential employers. Send thank-you letters and follow-up emails, and keep searching even when it feels like you’ll never have the career you want. That first job is just around the corner, so get ready to embark on a whole new journey!


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