The job market is still tough for more graduates, unless you’re an in-demand engineer or accountant. Two-thirds of college students have debt and 39 percent live with their parents. In 2012, 284,000 students graduated into minimum wage jobs, according to the Wall Street Journal. Companies only expect to hire 2.1 percent more graduates this year than they did in 2012 and 66 percent of recruiters believe that college graduates aren’t prepared for the working world. Although there are clear obstacles to finding work, there are also a lot of big opportunities that students can take advantage of. The following are ten things that new graduates should do to get ahead in their careers. Of course, older generations can benefit from these too.
Visit your college career and placement services.
Don’t wait until your final days in college to visit your school’s career center. Most colleges offer assistance in choosing majors, finding internships, locating employers seeking applicants in specific degree programs, exploring graduate school, and preparing for a job search. Take advantage of the assistance your program or college offers to add “real world experience” to your resume.
Explore careers related to your degree.
Don’t wait until you are graduating to think about the workplace. If you haven’t already, research careers related to your major or program. Do you know what jobs you will be qualified for when you graduate? To help plan your career path, conduct several informational interviews with people who work with or hire people in your desired career. Ask them if your degree program and extra-curricular experiences have prepared you for the requirements employers expect.
Participate in career activities.
Potential employers expect job candidates to have related skills and experience, not just coursework, a good G.P.A., and other school achievements. To set yourself apart from other recent graduates, participate in internships, mentoring programs, and other work-based learning experiences. You can also participate in career-related volunteer opportunities, or part-time or summer employment related to your chosen career.
Get some work experience
One of the important determining factors hiring managers take into consideration is previous experience. Any professional work experience will help you skip ahead of other candidates. My work experience began two years before I started college. By the time I graduated I already had six years of work experience to give me an edge, a combination of childcare, retail and administrative.
You can present a professional edge by interning and learning as much as possible. Pay attention to what kind of work you enjoy doing and what and what you don’t like to narrow down job possibilities. Even if you don’t start out with your dream job there is plenty of time to work, gain knowledge, and find out what you actually like to do.
Don’t settle for a job you’re not passionate about.
A lot of people are pushing college graduates to just get a job to pay the bills and that isn’t the greatest advice because research shows that you won’t last long there if you do. Furthermore, no smart company is going to have someone who is only there to make money because there’s always someone else who wants it more. When you’re passionate about your job, you’re excited, you work longer hours and end up accomplishing much more. Life is too short to settle for a career that you hate!
Don’t be afraid to try something new or share your ideas
As an entry level employee, you’re part of the new workforce, the generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and new business owners. While your goal might not be CEO of a large corporation, you might just have the next idea for a startup or mobile application.
We are all unique and bring different ideas to the table and management might not be able to look at a project, job task or solution from every angle. While you might not aim to be president of a large company, learn as much as possible and don’t be afraid to share your unique perspective.
Don’t be afraid to ask why
As you began to gain experience in the work force don’t be afraid to dig deeper and ask why. It is important to learn how processes work especially if you’d like to start your own business one day. As you ask questions and understand why things are the way they are, you’ll learn how to provide solutions.
There is a lot to learn coming out of college. Even though you may have spent years in the classroom, actually getting out into the “real world” is different because you aren’t working for a grade. I learned while some courses applied to my job description affecting the revenue stream at my job because of my actions is a much bigger responsibility than trying to make a grade.
Focus on making a big impact immediately.
The quicker you make an impact in a company the more attention and support you will get. Millennials understand this well because they won’t want to wait five years to get on a project where they can make this type of impact. Starting on day one, you have to learn as much as possible and start mastering your job so you can latch on to the bigger projects faster and prove yourself. By doing this, you will explode your career and become more valuable in your company, which will increase your pay, title and you’ll get to work on better projects.
Spend more time with people than with your laptop.
Students are plugged in and don’t understand that he strongest relationship are formed in person, not online. I constantly see students looking down at their iPhones and iPad’s instead of at people’s faces and it’s a missed opportunity. Soft skills will always become more cherished in companies so it’s important to drop your technology and actually communicate with people. People hire you, not technology and you have to remember that!
Are you looking to move up? Start at an entry level position and work your way up to management? The way to make your skill set indispensable in the workforce is to become a problem solver. Find out what problem your job has and find a solution. Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond to present yourself as a valuable employee. Whatever you set your mind to, make sure you do you absolute best. Excellence will set you apart in the workforce.