College graduations are coming up, if they haven’t already. It’s an exciting time of celebration from all your hard work, and anticipation of what is to come. Although, things may look a little different this year with everything going on in the world.
This is the time to start making plans for what’s next. As hopeful as we all are after graduating, sometimes you don’t get to start your career right after college. But that’s what they all tell us is going to happen right? We spend those years dreaming about pursuing our passion. We justify all the all nighters, hard assignments, and money spent by saying it will all be worth it. While education is important, we don’t typically talk about the other scenario that we can face after graduating. What if we don’t start our career right away?
I know that is a scary question to ask. We don’t want to think about that outcome. However, I think we do ourselves a disservice by not thinking about it. The truth is, some people don’t go straight from college to career. When you don’t consider that, you are in for a shock if graduation comes and you find yourself in that predicament. Thankfully there are still some things you can do in this time to prepare you further for your career.
What To Do Between College and Career
I have previously written a post about advice for when post-grad doesn’t turn out how you expected. What I am sharing today I will be expanding on some of the tips given in that article. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend reading it as well.
The main difference between the two is that, the previous article shared more about how to keep your spirits up, as well as tangible advice. In this post I’ll be sharing more specifically about the tangible activities you can be doing now to get to your career. These will help you build the skills and experience needed for that next step.
1. Find Some Way To Get An Income
Yes it is unfortunate that you are not in your chosen career field, believe me I’m right there with you, but you still need an income. Find a job that you can work at at least for the time being. Your bills can’t pay themselves so you have to do what you have to do. And that’s okay!
2. Meet With A Career Counselor
Check to see if your alma mater has career counselor services for alumni. If they do set up an appointment. If they do not offer those services to alumni you’ll have to try other methods, like online.
Career counseling can offer you resources and tools to help you better understand your strengths and career goals. It’s also a way to help you learn about career opportunities that might be a good fit for you and to build your network.
If you are a veteran like many others there are also ex military jobs available and career placement services can help you.
3. Schedule Informational Interviews
If there are a few companies you have dreamed of working for, why not try to set up an informational interview with someone in a role you are interested in? By doing an interview you are able to get the inside scoop on what your typical day would look like, make connections, and have a better understanding of what you need to improve on to get the experience you need.
You can do an informational interview in many different ways, like a phone call, FaceTime, email, and even in person when we get back to normal. When reaching out to the company make sure you are cautious and go with what works better with the time they have. By doing that you are setting a good first impression, and those can be powerful.
4. Find Internships Available For Post-Grads
While internships are typically sought after to earn college credit, there may still be some that accept post-grads. This may be more difficult to find than if you were still in college, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If you find an intern position that you are interested in, email that company. Explain to them your situation and see if they would consider giving the position to someone already out of college.
This could be something worthwhile if you are interested but unsure of a certain career path.
5. Volunteer, Especially If You Can Use Your Knowledge To Help
Volunteering is a great way to serve your community, especially in the times we are living in now. There may even be an opportunity for you to volunteer your skills. Maybe you majored in architecture? An organization like Habitat For Humanity would be a great place to volunteer. If you were an education major, you could volunteer tutoring services, or an organization that helps kids from low-income families.
There are many different options for this, it may take some digging, and maybe even creativity, but with so many places to volunteer with and organizations to support, I’m sure you’ll find some way to use your skills to help out.
6. Take More Classes/Get Certifications
The internet is full of sites where you can take classes, learn new skills, and even get certifications. My favorite places to go for this are Skillshare (affiliate), Udemy, HubSpot, and even YouTube. While some of the options out there have a cost, there are many free resources available as well.
The best part about this type of learning is that you can do it at your own time. There are no deadlines for when you need to complete it.
7. Update Your Resume and/or Portfolio
Another sometimes forgotten, but important, step to take is to update your resume. This is the time to add any new skills gained, certifications earned, volunteer organizations joined, etc.
In some professions it may also be a good idea to update, or create, your own website/e-portfolio. Now, more than ever, you can create a website without needing to know code. Some popular options to have a website through are Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress. Be sure to do some research before deciding. That way you can determine which one is right for your needs.
These are just a few activities you can do during that in-between stage. If you don’t land that great job right after college, don’t give up and think it will never happen. Instead, turn this time into a growth period. Which of these activities will you be doing first? Share this with a friend that is currently in an in-between stage. I’m sure he or she will appreciate the support and encouragement.