In May 2019, I walked across a stage to be handed the ticket to my future. It was a time to celebrate the countless hours in the library, time with friends, participating in organizations and every paper and exam ever submitted.
Yet only a year later, and that picture looks so different due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. For graduating seniors, your perseverance through the last four years isn’t unnoticed simply because your ending looks different than mine.
Commencement signals the end of college but the beginning of the rest of your life. Here’s my advice for graduating seniors on ways I found helped jumpstart that new beginning.
5 pieces of advice for graduating college seniors
1. Stay connected to people you know.
Take a second and think of all the people you met along the way. Friends, professors, coworkers, classmates, teammates. The list goes on!
All these people know something about you, your skills and your interests. They also know other people who can get you connected to employers looking to hire in your area of expertise. In time, you may find ways to be that connection for one of these people!
The bottom line is that everyone knows somebody. Take the time to foster meaningful relationships with these connections you meet along the way, because you just never know how helpful they will be to have.
2. Use LinkedIn and resume/job boards.
The odds are pretty good that at some point in your path to getting that degree, your career services department or adviser approached you about these two platforms. I know what you are thinking – will these really help me, or is this just checking the box as a young professional?
Speaking as someone who works in recruiting every day, I guarantee companies are looking at these platforms to recruit top talent like you. Utilize resume and job boards like Handshake or Purple Briefcase to search for job opportunities and share your resume with employers.
Take this time to get your LinkedIn up-to-date and connect with those individuals you have met along the way. It never hurts to send your request with a personal note either!
3. Focus on personal and professional development.
Be the proactive person who uncompromisingly takes control of your goals and future.
You are coming out of the routine of learning, studying and testing – it was essentially your full-time job! If you have a certification you will be desiring in your field, make it a goal to take that next step right out of the gate since you are still in the student mindset.
Never be afraid to learn new skills, either. Attend webinars and workshops and join young professional organizations. In the Greater Green Bay Area, Current Young Professionals gives individuals the opportunity to network and develop professional skills in a fun, exciting atmosphere.
4. Find the positive even when it seems impossible.
Let’s face it, your school year did not end as expected. Instead of being in the classroom for lectures, labs and exams, you were inevitably taking video call classes and online exams. You did this with little to no preparation, too. You adapted to an uncomfortable situation and faced the adversity that came with it.
This isn’t all in vain, however. You had to be adaptable, fluent in technology, problem-solve when things didn’t go as planned and develop a new way to stay structured and organized. Not only are these feats you can be personally proud of, but they are certainly qualities that an employer would be happy to have working for their company.
My advice for graduating college seniors is to speak to these in an interview and cultivate the skills day-to-day in your work.
5. Be open to new opportunities.
Even if you did not always envision yourself going into a specific industry, never close the door to an opportunity to get your feet wet in your area of expertise.
For myself, I knew I was studying human resources, but I did not go through school before my internship at Schneider with the very specific desire to be in the transportation industry.
Look for an organization that has an opportunity in your field and offers you a path to perfect your craft. Do they have a culture that values their stakeholders and operates in a way that speaks to your own values? Prioritize these qualities when you are choosing an employer.
You just never know where one opportunity will take you and your future, and all the skills you’ll learn with it!
Searching for your first job post-grad?
Schneider is hiring for many entry-level positions, perfect for recent college graduates looking to gain experience in the industry and use their knowledge in new, challenging ways. View Schneider’s job openings and apply for a position today.