1) You more than likely WILL NOT land a job immediately… and that’s ok!
On average, it takes the recent college graduate 9 months to a year to land their first job if not already preselected prior to graduating. Most students, swamped with finals and making sure to meet those last minute graduation requirements, completely omit the job search and wait until after its all over to start the hunt. This is the BIGGEST mistake you can make! Do not wait until you graduate to begin your search and by no means should you EVER take a “year off”. This procrastination only decreases your opportunities more.
2) Competition is Fierce!
The reason being the abundance of applicants companies are overwhelmed with from fellow graduating students. Not to mention the folks who graduated years before also applying because as you’ll learn timing is everything when applying. May-September is prime hiring time for companies. They know there are fresh faces ready to take on any task asked of them with no question and no concern of stature.
3) Hiring and Interviewing is an entirely different ball game now
No more are the days where you submit a hand written application, pass it to the manager over the counter, get a call the following day asking when you can start, and then your hired. With an actual career, there will be MORE THAN ONE interview, they WILL contact your references, and they DO expect physical proof of your skills/work (some require samples, portfolios, or on site testing at the interview.) Furthermore, the hiring process can take anywhere form a few weeks to nearly 2 months. This includes background checks, skills testing, drug testing, physical and health checks, personality tests, and most importantly screenings of your demeanor to determine if you match well with the existing employees.
4) Your first job WILL NOT BE your last job
The point of your first “Big Girl Job” is to teach you. You come in you make a million mistakes, you hate all of your co-workers or even your boss, you work a lot of overtime, you get looked over for every promotion, and then, 2 years later, you learn how to appropriately quit and move on to better fitting opportunities. Keep in mind in some instances, your first job can also open doors for multiple career paths within the company. Say you start as a sales representative for Saks. If you stay active and involved enough, you may be able to transfer into corporate working in the Merchandising Department as an Assistant Buyer and begin climbing your ladder this way. This is completely up to you and how you utilize your experience.
5) STAY ACTIVE!
The most important thing to be mindful of is TAKING FULL ADVANTAGE OF EVERY EXPERIENCE! If it is an internship, a part time job, full time job, work event, social event, or even overtime shifts, stay focused on the end goal. Always set a good impression, always work hard, and always be available. Get to know everyone that works in your office, visits your company, and all those that contribute to your day-to-day encounters. Make sure you get their contact information and make it a habit to keep in touch. Never be the employee eager to go home, rarely present at any work gatherings, or totally isolated at lunch hour. Volunteer to do extra work, sign up for those 9-hour seminars, ask questions relentlessly, and learn everything you can because your future can literally depend on it.
6) Never Settle
As mentioned earlier, companies are seeking to employ eager graduating students right now. Recruiters are set out to locate these students and enlist them to any job openings they are seeking to fill. Now that you have a degree, do understand that the average pay rate of a person with a college degree versus a high school diploma is increased by up to 75%. Many students jump at that first offer and relinquish all hopes of sticking to their field of study. During the interviewing process they don’t ask the proper questions determining if their company has room for expansion. Student loans also play a role in selecting (settling) for that first unfit yet potentially well-paid job offer. Be sure to have a plan.
Written by: Raven Noelle