Now What? Next Steps After Graduation

The day finally came! Four years’ worth of hard work paid off, and there you are, standing proudly in your cap and gown. Graduation may seem surreal, and although many look at it with fear, it should also be celebrated.

It’s no secret today’s economy is leaving many grads with less-than-ideal working situations, but there are ways to plan for the future you want. Check out some tips to make the most out of your summer, your job search, and the years to come.

Say Hello to Mom and Dad

Years ago, moving back home after college was a sign of failure. But today, it shows you’re smart about your time and money. Granted, it’s not ideal, but many of today’s grads don’t have the money upfront to splurge on an apartment or furnishings right away.

Give Yourself a Grace Period

Figure out what it is you want to do. Take the summer to map out your career goals and be honest about where you would ultimately like to see yourself. Do you want to stay close to home, or do you want to be out in the city? Is the traditional 9 to 5 job calling your name, or do you want to take a year off to volunteer? Being honest with yourself will make the transition into the real world that much more smooth.

Scope Out Temporary Positions

It’s uncommon for a grad to land his/her dream job as soon as graduation is over, but you do need to make money somehow. If you have a job to fall back on, such as working in retail or waitressing, embrace the chance to make some quick cash. At the same time, scope out temporary positions for the summer. For example, I worked as a copywriter for the November 2010 elections and was able to gain more experience within the world of marketing. You could even snag another internship if you can afford the time and feel it will add value to your resume. Be creative with your temporary search!

Network, Network, Network

Have you ever heard of Linkedin? If not, it’s time to sign up and start connecting to those around you. The site can either be another way to stalk friends, or you can use it as a tool to network and search for job openings. Don’t be shy about attending networking events as well, either locally or in the area you ultimately see yourself in. Invest in some business cards and start getting your name out there.

Perfect the Resume and Get to It

Once you’ve saved enough to move out, and you know what you want and where you want to be, tailor your job search to your criteria. In other words, be picky. It may sound strange, but knowing what you want will save you heartache and will lessen your chances of ending up in a less-than-ideal position. Edit your resume to show your accomplishments, and don’t forget to include freelancing gigs or other work experience you’ve gained over the summer. Scope out job search sites tailored to your major. For example, those of you interested in journalism, try,, or even the Writing/Editing section of Craigslist. is another fantastic way to search by keyword and state.

Know It Will Take Time

It’s true there’s stiff competition out there, and you may not get the job you want right away. But at the same time, there are very, very few grads who land a position they feel they can stick with for the rest of their careers. Be patient but remain motivated. The search will be tough, but knowing what you want and being smart with your time will help.

Michelle McNickle | Image: Source

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