Finally, commencement has come and gone and like many students, you may be wondering what to do after graduation. Being a recent graduate can be a little scary but even if you don’t have an internship or job lined up, don’t sweat it. If you're wondering what to do after graduation, there are a lot of opportunities available to you and this is the time to be proactive.
First and foremost, make sure that you have a professional resume written for the jobs that you intend on applying for. Some schools may even allow you to use their career center after graduation—but this varies by institution. Some colleges also hire recent graduates, so be on the lookout for those opportunities, too.
With your resume in hand, I recommend filling out as many applications for the field you are interested in as they appear online. One other thing to do after graduation, is to keep in touch with your college advisor and other department heads and let them know you will be using them as references in the future.
The “real world” is very different without the safety net of college
Some students find themselves looking for employment in the town they went to college. Others relocate to a bigger city for more opportunities when thinking about what to do after graduation. You don’t have to move right away, but definitely assess the prospects of building a career where you are now before you decide to make that move. If it’s possible, you may even consider moving back in with your parents or finding new roommates.
Opportunities to network after graduation
If you're stuck for ideas on what to do after graduation, recommend volunteering your time—specifically in the field you want to work in— which will potentially lead to a job or will simply further build your network. Find out about future-career fairs in your area and attend them. You could consider applying for positions with AmeriCorps, or, if you’re really bold, the Peace Corps. Perhaps a career in the military as Active Duty or a Reservist would suit you?
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Take advantage of all the resources accessible to you in your community
USAJobs is a great resource for jobs and is worth creating an account with to apply for open positions after graduation. Local papers also host a variety of “help wanted” ads so keep an eye on those as well.
The industry you want to work in may require a higher qualification, so think about applying for graduate school and start preparing for the necessary admission test. Other tests to take that would be beneficial after graduation would be the Civil Service exam and the ASVAB. Most local libraries can be a great help in this regard, especially if you are trying to save money or are taking more than one admission test.
Ambition comes in many forms
You have earned your college degree and there are no set rules as to how one comes by success. When it comes to deciding what to do after graduation, it is up to you to have a positive mindset and to figure out how to overcome the obstacles you face.
If you're deciding what to do after graduation and the traditional job route isn’t for you, perhaps you might develop your own small business. The most important thing to remember about this period in your life is that you cannot be afraid to fail. Now is a good time to take calculated risks and follow your passion. If you “fail” during your 20s, your life is much easier to rebuild and you’ll reduce any regrets later on in life. Don’t be afraid to be persistent if you really want something—figure out what it is that you want and go after it. College students can get discouraged about the job market, complacent about the jobs they have, or lack motivation. Never forget why you went to college and that you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it. Never stop learning and improving your skills.
Beyond this, take some workshops on proper interview techniques. Having a professional demeanor, resume and great interviewing techniques will certainly separate you from the pack and could help you get that dream job you always wanted. The most important piece of advice I will give you on what to do after graduation, is to be ready for that special opportunity—it could be right around the corner.