Career Woman

Career advice for the recent female graduate

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You have finally graduated after years of hard work and struggle. For most people, it’s a time filled with excitement and a bit of uncertainty. Where will you work? Can you afford to live on your own? Will current world events harm your chances of landing the job of your dreams?

While not everyone needs a degree to succeed, working in the corporate world or a specific industry often requires additional education. Getting the necessary paperwork to launch your career is a huge accomplishment. Even if you go into a different line of work, you’ll find some of the skills you’ve learned translate well into your new role.

If you recently graduated or will soon, there are some things to keep in mind as you start your official work life.

Tip #1: Develop some experience

A college education doesn’t always equal experience in your field. If you haven’t taken on internships or worked in the area, look for an internship opportunity. Nonpaid work for a short time builds your resume and may even land you a job with the company you’re interning for.

If you’re an older student, you may experience some challenges with ageism in the workplace. The median age of workers is 42.2 years old, so unless you’re older than your 40s, this may not be as much of an issue as expected. Pay attention to how the company treats its older workers and those who’ve been there for many years.

Look for ways of fleshing out your professional portfolio. Volunteer for a local nonprofit or create mockups of work you’d like to complete. The more you highlight your skills, the more likely an employer will take a chance on you.

Tip #2: Find your passion

If your passion is making money, then it doesn’t matter what career path you take. On the other hand, if you love baking, you might be better served managing a bakery or opening your own business. Look at what is most in-demand and figure out how to turn it into a lifelong career.

When you first graduate, you may have no idea what your passion is. Opportunities may also be limited following major global disasters or pandemics. There is nothing wrong with taking a job to pay the bills as long as you have a plan for moving into doing something you love at a later time. Once you’re out in the workforce, it may become clear what you don’t like. Through ruling things out, you’ll find what you love.

Tip #3: Live at home a while

If you currently live with your parents and they’re willing to let the arrangement continue, it can give you some freedom from bills as you work your way into the job with your dream company. You’ll have more flexibility to work an internship or take lower pay and then work your way up. You’ll also reduce much of the stress associated with your first year out of college.

Everyone wants their independence, but saving money for a down payment on a house or paying cash for a car can give you more freedom than struggling to make ends meet.

Tip #4: Own up to your mistakes

You will make mistakes when you land your first job or open your own business. Own up to them, figure out how to avoid the same ones in the future and move forward. Everyone takes missteps, but the key to growth is learning from those blunders and becoming better over time. Embrace each error as a learning opportunity and look for ways to improve consistently.

Tip #5: Review your social media

Human resources are notorious for checking social media profiles. You may have things on yours that were fine when you were a 16-year-old high school student but look a bit sketchy now. Start by making your information only accessible to friends rather than the public. Platforms such as Facebook allow you to change your settings and will ask if you’d like to apply the privacy to past posts.

Go through your profile from the beginning and delete anything putting you in a negative light. You never know when someone might copy and paste a status and send it to your employer. In an ideal world, people wouldn’t judge you for something you posted when you were younger. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect environment, so it’s best to protect yourself and your future career.

Tip #6: Seek out like-minded options

Before sending out resumes, research the businesses to which you’re applying. Look for brands with a similar philosophy to yours and a company culture that meshes well with your personality. If you tend to hone in on your work and don’t have time for a lot of chit-chat, a close-knit family-type atmosphere may annoy you more than motivate you. On the other hand, if you thrive on human interaction, you’ll love that work environment.

Tip #7: Make connections

One of your early goals should be making connections in the industry. Start by finding a mentor. You want someone who is doing the job you dream of having one day. This person has a lot of their own connections and wisdom. Ask them to mentor you, and if they say no, find someone else. A mentor is invaluable in helping you avoid the pitfalls of starting your career.

Go to networking events. If you take a job you don’t particularly want, find connections within the company you’re interested in and cultivate them. Most people find new positions via people they know, so networking can help move you from the drab work you use to pay bills into the role of your dreams.

Never stop learning

You may feel a bit burned out from years of schooling. However, you must continue learning even after graduation. While adult knowledge doesn’t necessarily take the form of attending university classes, stay on top of your field in other ways. Attend conferences, read books and ask your boss for ideas to expand your skills.

Look for ways to learn new things you can use in your career or move up in the company. Sometimes this will require a course and getting certification. Other times, it might be an on-the-job experience. Keep a positive attitude and find a company with the same values as yours. With time, your career will take off, and you’ll be glad you invested the time and research into finding the right fit.

About Lexie Lu

Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she's not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner

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