Sunday, November 18th, 2018

Letter from the editor: Prepare for life after college

Posted on November 08, 2018 in Perspectives
By Julie Pike

Photo Courtesy of Mark Ramsay, Flickr

By Julie Pike, Editor-in-Chief

I’ve been getting the question a lot lately, “Have you given any thought to what you’re going to do after college?” The answer is yes, I have given a lot of thought into it, but I don’t have any idea of what I’ll actually be doing. I feel like that’s common for my fellow students who are also graduating this year. We know what we want to be doing, but we have no idea if it’s actually going to turn out that way.

I’ve been working with a career counselor since the beginning of this semester, creating a solid resume, LinkedIn profile, writing cover letters and preparing for interviews. At first I thought it felt a bit early to begin all of this, but now I realize that I made the right decision.

I know that once spring semester comes around, the panic of what I’m going to do after I graduate will set in. I want to be as prepared for that moment as I can.

I want to get the message across to my fellow students who are graduating this year, begin to plan now. Go see a career counselor and start figuring out what you can do to prepare yourselves.

The University of Washington reported that it takes college graduates on average three to six months to find a job after graduation. With ever increasing students loans, I know that not many of us can take that long to find secure financial income. So help yourself make that transition easier, and start working on this now.

I never realized the importance of having a tailored resume for the kind of job that you want, or a developed LinkedIn profile to give employers a better idea of your professional experience. It’s not easy to write a cover letter, as you have to focus on keywords that employers will often look for. For more competitive jobs, they may use computer software to weed out cover letters that don’t have the keywords they are looking for.

I also can’t emphasize the importance of networking and making connections. There is no better way to increase your chances of getting a job after graduation than making connections in your field.

Luckily there is a slew of free resources offered at USM to help just that, career services can help you build your resume, write a cover letter and help you search for jobs. It’s a difficult task that requires some time dedication, but if you can get started on it now it won’t feel so overwhelming.

There is also a new course offering next semester, COR 400, called Launching into Life After College. This is an exit year experience, taught by Jeanette Andonian and David Bantz. It serves as a way to help students reflect on their college career and how their experiences will translate into life after college, while also preparing them to make that transition. The next semester is a pilot of this new program.

Now it may be too early to have a job secured after graduation, and that uncertainty can be stressful, but you can at least become prepared to get started on that job search.

I’m urging all of my fellow USM students to start taking advantage of the resources available at our school now. Don’t wait until a month before graduation, when the panic often sets in, start making steps towards ensuring success after college. Getting that diploma is just one of those steps, but finding a career takes time and effort.

Go to job fairs, such as the one at USM this Thursday in the Sullivan Gym in Portland from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Talk to different companies from around the area, see who is hiring and see what opportunities are out there.

Take a look at your resume, you want this to be tailored for the career you are going into. If you’re looking to go into marketing, that summer you spent as a camp counselor may not be the most important thing to include. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that your resume should only be one page. Employers want to be able to know who you are, but they want to do so efficiently.

Start developing your LinkedIn profile. I know it may seem odd to be active on LinkedIn as a college student, but it’s an important tool in the professional world when it comes to networking and searching for jobs. It’s also like an extended version of your resume, as you’re able to add more than what would fit on one page.

Most importantly, work on networking. Talk to people in the area who are working in your field, find out what their jobs are like. This is called informational interviewing, you’re not looking for a job, you’re just looking to find out more about the types of jobs people in your field have. This will not only help you make more connections in the area, but also help you get a better understanding of what kind of job you want to have after college.

I’m still working through figuring out life after college, and it’ll be something that’s uncertain for the next few months. I hope that students in a similar to position will start focusing on life after college as now is the time. Take advantage of the great resources at school to help make this transition as easy as possible.

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