On the Job

I graduated! Now what?

Graduating from college marks a milestone in your life – not everyone makes it this far. Be proud of your accomplishment and revel in the fact that you can add a few initials after your name. Just remember, the choices you make in the years after college will have a huge impact on the rest of your life, so keep that reveling to a minimum until you have put some thought into what’s next.

Photo by RENNIE PATTERSONAshleigh Brown, columnist and student at Mount Mary University.

Ashleigh Brown, columnist and student at Mount Mary University.

If you started your career plan early, you may have already completed an internship or worked part-time for a company that you’re interested in. If not, do it now! The best way to distinguish yourself from a pool of applicants is with unique experience. If you’re having trouble getting your foot in the door, you can try volunteering for a non-profit organization or doing freelance work on a project basis. These opportunities will build your practical experience outside of the classroom and add another job title to your resume. You will also be able to provide real-life answers at your next job interview.

Building experience is just one piece of the puzzle. Having a network of professionals to help you gain exposure is a necessity. With your professors, co-workers, fellow students, family, or anyone you know as a link, introduce yourself to other professionals in your field who could put in a good word for you someday. Networking events, conferences, expos and career fairs can put you in front of the people you need to know. Shake hands, be polite and make a strong impression.

Although face time is important, you will only have access to so many people. That’s why it’s important to grow your professional identity online. Posting your resume is just a place to start. If you have the time, why not create your own blog or website?

Go beyond your local community to explore the professional community. Become a member of an online organization, contribute your expertise and find a mentor electronically. Let your Web presence continue the conversation and fill in the blanks for a potential employer.

Of course, the easiest place to start is Mount Mary University’s own Career Development Office. Here you can find career path counseling, tips for your job search or assistance writing your resume. Stop by the first floor of the Haggerty Library after class, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In today’s job market, it wouldn’t be unusual for your summer to go by without so much as a phone call. Keep your chin up, though! Remember your focus and all of the great things you have to offer. It’s important to value your position and appreciate your employer, but I’ve gone from unemployment anxiety to career confidence – the jobs don’t change as much as you do. It’s all about your attitude.

The next step you take is entirely up to you. Spend the time you need to weigh your options and commit to a particular path. Consider your personal priorities with your career objectives, and keep family, finances and graduate school in mind. You may need to relocate to Duluth; you may need to move in with Mom and Dad for a while. Whatever your choices may be, take enough time to adjust to life as a non-student. You’ll be able to work for the rest of your life and this will be a time you’ll want to look back on fondly. Congratulations, class of 2014!

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