Graduation is just a few months away, and your peers are all scrambling to land positions—even imperfect ones and unpaid internships—like passengers running for lifeboats on a sinking ship. You have three choices at this stage:
1. Scramble fast and grab a seat before the ship disappears underneath you.
2. Take your time and find a position that aligns perfectly with your long-term career plans.
Here are a few moves that can help with all three.
For now, this may be the most realistic option for many recent college grads. If you have to work a register, wait tables, or move boxes on a warehouse floor for a while, you'll be doing what countless others are doing all around you and have done before you. Be humble, be present in the moment, and learn everything you can from this work before you move on. Many people later claim that their first non-career-related jobs taught them more about business and human nature and human nature than any other chapter of their working lives.
Start Your Career
If you'd rather not spend a few months holding a low-wage job that's unrelated to your degree, that's fine. But in order to jump right from college onto the career ladder, you may have to "pay your dues," which is part of a simple equation: your employers place a low value on your work right now because you have no experience. So in order to gain that experience and raise your value, you'll have to let employers take a chance on you, hand you low-responsibility tasks, and possibly underpay you.
If you find yourself fetching coffee, fetch that coffee with your whole heart and do it as well as you can. Meanwhile, keep an eye on how long you let this continue, and remember that YOU (not your employers) decide when you have enough experience to move up to the next rung. If you're struggling to gain the promotion or raise you deserve after a few weeks or months, it's time to start leaning on your connections, submitting your resume to other companies, contacting temporary employment agencies, pursuing every opportunity you find, and doing whatever it takes to get out of there and move on. Stay in control of your own destiny.
None of the Above
Instead of "landing a job," whatever you imagine this might mean, do something else. This is the riskiest and the most rewarding option at this stage in life, and it can leave you with memories and lessons that last a lifetime.
Focus on your art. Volunteer for a non-profit organization. Follow your girlfriend across the country while she attends grad school. Travel (if you go on a shoestring, it's cheaper than you might imagine). Start your own business (it may not make you rich, but there will never be a better time to fail, learn, and grow). Whatever you decide to do, let your first real job find you instead of hunting it down. Amazing things can happen when you do this.
No Matter what You Do Next, You'll Need a Resume
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