By Katy Piotrowski, M.Ed., LPC (’93)
Kudos to those who just received their diplomas. Considering that only about one quarter of adults ever receives a bachelor’s degree, it’s an impressive accomplishment. But now you’re facing the transition from a fairly prescribed path to forging forward with no set plan. The iconic symbol of completing your program—the cap—can guide you ahead:
C – Clarity: For most grads, their major doesn’t define their vocational choice. Over 70% complete commencement without a career goal in mind. Yet without one, they may quickly end up feeling aimless and frustrated. Even if it may not seem 100% on target, choose some sort of focus: if you want to do good in the world, investigate nonprofits; if a particular company intrigues you, research options to get your toe in the door; if there’s a skill you love using, explore paths that make use of that strength. This is just a first step. As you gain more experience and clarity, you can steer your choices from there.
A – Alignment: Decision makers are motivated to employ individuals who can meet their needs. In your resume, on LinkedIn, and in interviews, present yourself from a perspective that gets their attention. If the problems you’ll be solving are related to customer service, describe yourself from that angle, and include specific examples of when you’ve demonstrated that expertise in the past.
P – Propulsion: The job market is strong now, yet you’ll still need to make yourself known. Only about 20% of openings are publicly advertised, and 75% of opportunities will be with smaller companies. You can increase your chances for being found by connecting with former classmates and instructors on LinkedIn, as well as your parents’ friends and colleagues. In your invite, describe the kind of work you’re aiming to do, and ask for their ideas about next steps. Saying, “I’m seeking work related to helping the environment,” is much easier for supporters to act upon than, “I’ll take anything.”
And just as you had to do the work to get your degree, commit to doing the work it will take to get hired. The future is yours!