Advice & Features Articles

College to Job or Graduate School



“If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”

“Man in the Mirror,” Michael Jackson; lyrics by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard

By Karyn Brodsky

Finally! All those years of hard work are destined to pay off…and get your student off your payroll. This is the time for those who graduate college to get a job or go to graduate school and make their mark on the world.

Steve Longo, Partner with NextStep College to Career Coaching in Plano, says that planning for a job after college actually begins in high school. “Many colleges require high school seniors to declare a major prior to enrolling for the freshman year,” says Longo. “This is nonsensical for sure; most high school students have difficulty putting dishes in the sink let alone deciding what they will do for the next 40 years!” That said, prior to selecting a college and a major, students might want to research what percentage of people with a degree in various fields earn “career jobs” upon graduation, what a “career job” pays for a particular major and whether an advanced degree is needed to obtain a “career position.”

While enrolled in college or university, students should seize the opportunity to build their résumés with on-campus employment, summer jobs and internships, study abroad programs, volunteer work, community service and extracurricular activities to differentiate themselves in the eyes of a potential employer or graduate school admissions officer. They should also take a class that includes résumé building, presentation skills and interview role play.

Longo notes that students attend college for four years but will work for 40 years, so it makes sense to focus on an upcoming career. One of the first steps is for the student to visit the school’s career center as early as freshman year to determine what the hiring process is for summer internships. While a freshman may not qualify for an internship, it is helpful to attend career fairs to get practice networking with potential employers. Those skills will also pay off when interviewing with a graduate school admissions officer. “Students who pay attention to their career while they are in college are much more likely to be successful after college,” says Longo.

Finding a full-time job for after graduation is, in itself, a full-time job. Recruiting while still in college requires a delicate balance. Longo says it’s important to exercise excellent time management skills, so that recruiting doesn’t conflict with classes or studying, and coursework doesn’t keep a student from recruiting. Maintaining good grades is crucial, since potential employers are likely to look at the students’ grade point average when considering them for their first job. Being on time and presentable at interviews shows a hiring manager that students are reliable and is great preparation for having to show up at work every day.

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