Career Advice for College Graduates

By: McKenzie

How exciting! You’ve made it through your college education and while you may be continuing into a graduate program you are still wondering, “what should I do now?” Here is some simple advice for navigating the waters of entering your career field.

Stay Positive
Entering the workforce can be a very intimidating experience and if you aren’t finding jobs right off the bat that’s okay! Many students struggle to enter a job within their chosen career path when they first start looking. It may not be easy entering this next stage in life so maintaining a positive outlook can help carry you through the mucky experience.

Know What You Want
Graduating college can be a very stressful experience for anyone who is unsure what they are looking for in a job. During interviews and at job fairs potential employers are looking for candidates with an idea of their direction in their field. Think to yourself, “where would I like to be in 5 years?” and start looking for work that will get you there.

Career Advice for College Graduates

Reach Out
Now is a great time to start contacting people within your networks and seeing what opportunities are available. If you do not know anyone within your field, then it’s time to do some research. There are a lot of professionals who are willing to talk about themselves, so try reaching out and asking if they would be interested in an informational interview. Your connections can take you far.

Get Involved & Stay Involved
Were you involved in college? Keep that going! If you were not, then now is a great time to start. Our passions can help show employers there is more to us than meets the eye. Being involved is a great resume and network booster! You never know who could be your next reference.

Research Before Interviews
Companies like candidates who are interested in them. Often times applicants lose themselves in the process of applying for a job and they are not prepared for their interviews. If you do not know anything about a company hiring you then how would you know they are the right fit? The company may not align with your values. You also might not be ready when they ask you a question you could have known the answer to with quick Google search.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Joshua Sortino

 

“Hanging” Up the Mantle: Leadership Transitioning

By: David

With graduation around the corner, it’s crazy to see so many years go by with a blink of an eye and detach myself from the college environment. It’s a scary, yet exciting thought, and deep down, I know I’ll truly miss college and the opportunities that come with it. One aspect I know I will for sure miss once I leave the college bubble is campus involvement and holding leadership roles. Before giving a preview on today’s post, I just wanted to put this out there that the title is intentional. Since we’re all so familiar with the “taking up the mantle” idiom, I figured I would throw in a twist by titling this post, “hanging up the mantle” which essentially is supposed to represent stepping down as a leader. (Clever, I know!) With that being said, in today’s post, I will be focusing on my experiences of stepping down from leadership roles and what are ways and questions a student can ease the transition of going from super-duper involved on-campus to the “boring, dull” lifestyle in the real-world. Well then, let’s dive in!

Stepping Down from Leadership Positions
From personal experience, I think one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader is not the stress that comes with leading nor is it the backlash and criticism you get from people, but rather the moment when you realize it’s time to step down. The moment when you realize that your dreams, goals, and vision as a leader will diminish is unsettling. (Okay, it’s not that extreme, there are successors for a reason!) On the contrary, I think some individuals may feel differently and fathom the relief that comes with stepping down more than anything, which is understandable too.

From my own experience, this was especially relevant in my active membership with Asian Pacific American Association (APAA). I’m sure by now, you perhaps are aware of APAA from my previous blog posts. As an active member and previous board member, I recall there being moments where I wasn’t ready to let go and still wanted to be involved and contribute to the organization as best I could. Eventually, I realized the importance of letting go and restraining myself and ultimately how important it was to simply believe in the new generation of leaders with their ideas and beliefs in regards to taking care the organization. Granted, I was still involved with the organization, it’s just that getting involved looked a lot different. For any leader, really, it’s difficult when you’ve invested so much time and effort into an organization and literally have attached yourself to it whether it be mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. An important part of stepping down for me, I’ve realized, is that being a leader doesn’t always have to mean that you’re in the front line leading the charge. It can also mean staying behind and helping others rise to positions of leadership. As part of leaving the college bubble and launching into the real world, I know the best thing I can do as a leader with previous experience is to give back to the next generation of leaders. As my time of leading has come to an end, I’ve realized that part of stepping down is inspiring and guiding others to step up.

The Actual Transition
I think any student who is or has been involved on campus and served in a leadership role knows that time flies by all too fast when having to balance, school, work, and extracurricular activities such as leadership positions. Especially for graduating seniors, this creates more issues as finding a job only creates more chaos. But what happens when a person goes from planning, studying, working, organizing, eating, sleeping, job-hunting, and exercising, to simply just working? I think this is a reality that many students face as the fluid nature of college switches to the routine-based lifestyle of working after graduation.

Honestly, I, myself, have not gotten the chance to let the idea of graduation settle in due to the busy nature of college itself. With having conversations with career counselors and peers, I’ve only had the chance to ponder on it slightly, but the thought of going from busy to boring is quite depressing honestly. As I navigate these last few weeks of college before graduation, it’ll be smart for me to prepare the transition from college to the working world. Granted, I’ll still be doing summer research in the Twin Ports area, but I think preparing mentally and emotionally to slowly transition out of college will be a real challenge. Of course, I don’t have all the answers to ease the transition as I am still in the process of doing so, but I think it’s important for any college student to just be aware and mentally/emotionally prepared to leave college.

But hey, there’s hope! Just because college is ending doesn’t necessarily mean that getting involved has to end as well. As young professionals stepping into the real world, the chance to get involved in the community is endless and the opportunity to network is even greater than what the college level has to offer. For instance, there are a number of organizations dedicated to serve and connect young professionals. On a local level, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce offers a number of opportunities for professionals both young and old. Additionally, if you have certain special interests and causes that you would like to advocate for, there are even more opportunities. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to getting involved with two different organizations after I graduate: Coalition of Asian American Leaders & National Association of Asian American Professionals. Ultimately, I see college as a unique stepping stone for students to get active in their communities. If student leaders are able to translate the work that they’ve put it in at the university level into their communities afterward, just imagine the positive impact and change that can occur in the world.

Conclusion
So where do we go from here with zero motivation to study, “senior slide” kicking in if it hasn’t already, and the struggles of going from college-life to the real world? Well, if I told you I have all the right answers, I would be lying. I think the important piece is to simply reflect on the time in college and enjoy the last few moments before it all ends. Furthermore, ask questions and have conversations with professionals and staff who work with students who go through this transition such as career counselors, advisors, etc. I know for myself, my supervisor, Ellen, has pushed me to seek out opportunities past the college bubble and to consider ways of still getting involved in the working world. For many, a lot of individuals are ready and can’t wait to fly off into the real world, and for the very few like myself, it’ll be a bittersweet ending leaving the college life and the opportunities and activities that came with it. Like I said before, if student leaders were able to make a great impact at the college level, imagine the potential for growth and positive change in the future once this effort is transferred to our communities whether that be on a local, regional, national, or international level. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and change the world (for the better, of course) graduates!

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Senior Year: Anything Can Happen

By: Logan

So you have three years of college under your belt. You had somewhat of an idea of what you wanted to do upon graduation, but now you are not exactly sure of what you want to do. Back when you were a freshman or sophomore you used to think to yourself, “Well, I still have some time before I graduate!” This thought continued to persist until one day you woke up and realized, “Oh wow. It’s time to decide.” This may be an exciting time or a scary time for you. In a few months you will find yourself out of college and in the real world. This is the point in many students’ college careers where they think that everything is coming to an end and decisions have to be made quickly.

I have pondered this a lot lately, being that I will graduate in the spring and I am also unsure of what the future will hold. Many people will see this as being unprepared or unorganized, but I see it as an opportunity. We need to realize that it is okay to not have our entire futures planned out! Some people thrive from making a specific plan and following it, but for others (including me) this is a great time to explore the possibilities of what we can do.

sr-year-leap

It is common for college students to compare ourselves to classmates around themselves. For those of us who do not have an exact plan it is hard for us to not compare ourselves to that student who has their entire life mapped out. We all know this type of student, the one who knows exactly where they will be working, where they will be living, and seems to have their whole career in line. Kudos to this type of student, I have admiration for people like this, but not everyone has the same mentality.

There are many advantages to not having your future all planned out. This leaves room for more experimentation and potentially more opportunities. Those who do not have an exact picture of what they want to do will look at a larger variety of options post graduation. This allows for the student to develop multiple paths and backup plans in case certain options fall through. For students who have a very narrow idea for a career path it could be catastrophic to them if their career plan does not work out the way they want it to. Imagine having your entire life planned out to follow one specific path, and then one day it all comes crashing down because you did not get your desired job or internship. This is why it is important to have a few ideas and plans of what you would be interested in doing, so you always have something to fall back on.

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have a general idea of an area you would be interested in, but it is important to not be too narrow minded. Also keep in mind that we have a variety of resources here at UMD that can help with these questions you may have. The counselors at Career and Internship Services are exceptionally helpful with brainstorming ideas, assisting with plans, and getting you ready for these opportunities. Take advantage of these resources and it will definitely help you in the long run.

The real world can be a scary place, but it is okay! Not having an exact idea of what you want to do leaves more doors open for potential opportunities. So continue your research on different areas that you are interested in and don’t limit yourself on what you can do. With the resources available to us at UMD and the excellent education we have earned, we will figure it out eventually. Until then, enjoy the ride!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Cam Adams

The Last Semester: The Bottomless Abyss that is Life After Graduation

By: Glen

It’s my last semester of school at UMD, and lots of things are changing right before my eyes. So much has changed, that my usual response to “How are you doing?” has switched from something like, “great,” “excellent,” and “fantastic,” to something along the lines of, “ehhhh,” “I’m alive,” or “hanging in there.”

As it turns out, there are certain tasks you have to get done in order to graduate, such as passing classes. Additionally, there are tasks you must complete in the same time frame, such as getting a job, or finding a place to live. Here are a couple of the stressors I am facing as a college senior, for your reading pleasure.

Bottomless abyss

Getting a Job

It’s April now, and some places have already hired college seniors for upcoming jobs. If you end up in this category, you win the game I like to call, “Senior-ing” (you’ve done a great job of being a college senior!).

Other places are in the swing of the hiring process. If you’ve got interviews in place, but no job, it’s a bit stressful. Yet, a solution can appear soon, so keep your chin up!

Some places have not yet even posted the job openings yet. I’ll tell you what: There is nothing worse than knowing there is(are) job(s) you want to apply for, knowing it’s April, and they haven’t been able to post the openings yet. You just want to know where you will need to live; you want to know how much money you are making; and you want to stop searching for jobs! I would be lying if I told you I was in a different situation than this one. It just so happens that this leads to the next big stressor of college seniors (as experienced by Glen).

Finding a Living Location (Sometimes referred to as a “House” or an “Apartment”)

Alright, do you want to live with anyone? Where do you want to live? How will you pay for said living space? At first, I was among many people I knew that wanted to move to a different place, maybe with some friends of mine, with a brand-new sparkly job. If I get completely blown away by an offer, I might relocate. However, I am really leaning heavily toward finding a location that I am comfortable in, with people I am excited to live with.

“Why? This is the time of your life to keep moving on and upward with your life!” I’ve thought about that, but I have also reflected a bit on my own life values. Reflecting on my senior year so far, I haven’t done many “exciting” things. I am okay with that, but I also felt a sense of impending doom all year because of the large numbers of projects I have to complete. Right now, I am okay with scoring a job, and taking a year to myself to gear up for what is next in life. I would advise taking time to find what is comfortable for you after graduation. Are you okay with making a plan on where to live and sticking to it? Do you have the opportunity to sit back and get things figured out before you determine a living space? Where do you really want to live? Who do you want to live with?

So, yes, there are a lot of things to think about, and it is stressful when things do not work out perfectly right away. My hope is for you to be able to read these events in my own life, and be able to ask yourself the same questions about life after graduation. It’s extremely stress inducing, but if you take the time to think things through regularly, you can save yourself some stress later. “No pain, no gain!”

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Photo source: Lou Levit