As of 2020, there is an average of over 4 million students who have graduated from colleges in the US. Congratulations to any readers who have recently graduated! Graduating from college can be the most exciting and terrifying part of your life. It is a period of immense change and uncertainty. While every industry is different, and has different reactions to the market, we can provide some advice for graduates trying to start a career.
Stay in Touch and Tap Into Your Network
Whether it’s for a career sponsor or to get your foot in the door for an interview, keep in touch with the connections you made during school. If your school provides networking events, take advantage of as many events as possible. These events are usually a great way to collect business cards from a variety of business professionals in all types of industries.
Additionally, stay active on social media such as LinkedIn or other industry-specific apps (e.g. Fishbowl for the consulting industry). LinkedIn is a great way to not only connect with the people you meet through school, interviews, and events, but to also promote yourself and showcase your accomplishments. Many employers source candidates through networking sites, such as LinkedIn.
Obtaining a degree doesn’t guarantee success, but applying the knowledge you gained and tapping into the personal relationships you developed during school can be vital for initial career opportunities.
Educate Yourself and Have Proper Expectations
After graduation, along with the countless other important changes happening in your life, your finances will be changing. Understanding personal finance is key to starting a career post-graduation. To start, make sure you know how much you owe in student loans, and start thinking about the monthly cost of repayment.
In addition to repaying student loans, look at your current budget, spending and total bills. This will help you understand how much money you need to live and afford your current lifestyle. It is important to add in any new bills, such as an apartment, healthcare-related costs and transportation. It is common that there are more bills added post-graduation as you transition into a more independent lifestyle.
Once you’ve looked at the amount of finances needed to pay your current and potential future bills then you’ll be able to determine your baseline for a minimum salary. This would be the time to research average starting salaries in the industry and area you will be job hunting in. Make adjustments to your personal finances based on your findings. This will also allow you to have proper expectations when inquiring about salary or receiving offers.
If you haven’t learned about benefits during any of your courses, take this time to research and understand employer benefits, especially 401k. It is shown that younger workers seek out monetary compensation over benefits, but understanding the benefits of picking a balanced compensation package is important for your future.
Know Your Worth and Set Priorities for Compensation
Interviewing is a two-way street; companies are trying to find the right fit for their staff, but you should be finding the right company for you. A helpful way to figure out what you are looking for in a company is by listing values or benefits offered. If you compare what you want in a company versus what they list in their job ad, you will find more compatible companies.
Most companies list not only their mission statement, vision and values in the job ad, but also what they are looking for in a candidate. This will help identify if they would be a good fit for your values and desires as an employee.
Finally, take the time to figure out what you want from a position and don’t be afraid to make requests during interviews. Ask questions about benefits, salary, expected hours, the work setting (remote or in-office), and the work-life balance they provide. Compare those to what you’re looking for in a role. In addition, don’t forget to ask about if they have career development options, continuing education paths and reimbursement, and non-traditional benefits that add value to your life such as health club or wellness reimbursements.
Avoid Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is the persistent inability to believe that your success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills. This is extremely common in many professionals, but it is especially common in people who have recently switched careers or industries or people starting their career. Document your successes and celebrate them, try to avoid comparing your beginning results to someone else’s results after years of practice, and understand that failure is a learning opportunity, is normal, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Want to learn more about overcoming imposter syndrome? Check out our article on it.
Don’t Stop Learning
While not all industries require continued education, pursuing further educational opportunities post-graduation can be key to advancing and transitioning into a role as a new professional. If there are certifications that you can receive to add additional legitimacy to your qualifications, look into the process for obtaining those certifications.
LinkedIn Learning is a great, easy way to obtain small certifications or increase your knowledge in certain spaces. Becoming a subject matter expert in areas that are missing a subject matter expert is another way to use learning to help your career and beef up your resume.
When your resume demonstrates that you possess a mindset of continuous improvement, it’s a great way to distinguish yourself as a top candidate or employee. Sometimes a mix of knowledge and community involvement can help connect you to your company and career. Volunteering is a great way to network, create a sense of purpose, help the community and appeal to employers.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Life
It is important to have a balance of not only professional fulfillment, but also personal fulfillment. Look for a career that can help give you both. Keeping the right work-life balance and exploring your interests outside of work will help with personal fulfillment and improve your professional performance.
At Society Insurance, we’re always looking for talented individuals to join our team. To learn more about working at Society Insurance, our culture and open positions, check out our careers page today!