You have just completed your undergraduate degree. This is an amazing feat! Deservedly, you’re relieved. You’ve spent countless hours in the library, studying through the early mornings and into the late nights. Dedicated, what felt like years to endless group projects and papers that you thought might break your soul – but you survived. You can look back at all you have accomplished in school, everything building up for this big day and know that you have finally made it.
Now, some of you may be continuing education, but for most, it is time to enter the official real world. It was a phrase I heard so often when I graduated: “welcome to the real world”.
What did this mean? Real world. The moment you graduate is a pivotal one where you transition from the years and years of learning, to the application of everything you have been working towards. You have a piece of paper that says you have earned your degree, but do you really know what that means? Did you learn and absorb everything that you needed to be successful? What separates you from the millions of other graduates?
Here is some advice to give you an edge when planning for your career and how to set yourself apart after graduation:
#1 - Have a Plan
You have to figure out what your next step is and what path is the best for you to follow. The best way to do this is by determining what your professional and personal goals are. Ask yourself: what you want to do and how you can get there?
Until about 10 years ago, simply having a Bachelor’s degree was enough to find a job. Until a couple years ago, a regular, local internship was enough. Now everyone is required to have an internship through school. So, what else have you done that makes the difference?
We are living in an increasingly interconnected world where it is necessary for us to adapt with globalized times. Working and living abroad is what is now asked of us so we can bring our own international and intercultural ideas and views to the table, to help advance a company to this global level.
#2 - Are Your Professional Documents Ready?
Resume and Cover Letter:
If you have never had resume and cover letter coaching, this is a must. These documents are an employer’s first impression of you and the even simplest mistake might send it to the trash. There are many different opinions on how a resume and cover letter should look, and there are a couple right ways, but there are also many wrong ways. Global Experiences’ Certified Coaches will be able to assist you with both structure and content to make sure that your most relevant and strongest experience is portrayed in the correct way.
Portfolio and Writing Samples:
If your profession requires a portfolio, whether it is creative design or writing samples, this needs to represent and show off your skillset to the best of your ability. Seeing as we are well into the age of technology, you should have this prepared on both online and offline mediums.
A website or saved as a pdf that you can easily submit are both great ways to store your artifacts online. If you are not familiar with how to create a website, sites like wix.com or www.opendesigns.org have great free templates.
For physical portfolios you can be creative or basic, it all depends on how much you wanted to invest. You could create a bound book of your work or simply find a portfolio binder at an office supply store.
#3 - Your Online Brand
Everyone is on social media and the internet remembers everything. You should always assume anything that has ever gone up, even if you weren’t tagged in it, even if your account is private - employers can see it. At first I was one of the people that kind of brushed it off, there is no way they can see everything. During my Media Law and Ethics class my senior year I quickly realized they actually can. There are different types of software licensed by social media companies that are sold to employers where the sole purpose of their existence is for them to see private profiles, untagged and deleted photos. So even if you deleted it, they can still see it!
Even though you must be very conscious about what is on your social media, it is good to have them. Just like when you are doing research for a company, you most likely go straight to their Facebook page to see if they are legit – employers do the same. It is important to convey the right image and personality across all platforms.
#4 - Know How to Talk about Yourself
One of the most difficult moments is when someone point-blank asks you, what you are good at or why they should choose you. Many people will have to scramble for coherent sentences that can accurately sum up why you are the person for the job. The way to do this is to be confident in your skills and strengths and be able to identify them. The Clifton StrengthsFinderTM Assessment is a 30 minute assessment that accurately depicts your top five strengths, this is provided to each intern that goes through the Global Experiences internship program. Global Experiences will show you what your individual strengths mean and how to best utilize them.
Develop an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a brief (about 30 second), carefully composed statement designed to communicate to a listener the most important information about you, and what you're all about. It is delivered quickly, concisely, and memorably, who you are and what you are interested in professionally. Going through this process and memorizing this is an effective task so that when you are at an event or in an interview you are able to give this introduction on command. Once you have become comfortable with the speech you developed, you are able to grow off of this and alter bits of information for each person you speak with. They key is being comfortable, confident and truthful in what you are saying.
#5 - Networking
When you graduate you may have connections through your professors, other students or maybe through your parents, but you can’t just rely on these sources. Subscribe or become a member to different associations within your industry. This will keep you up to date on developments and news within the field and also make you aware of events and conferences that you can attend. These are great to participate in, not only for the knowledge you will gain, but also the people you will meet.
#6 - The Interview
When you have landed that interview from your great networking abilities, elevator speech, and perfectly composed resume and cover letter, now comes the real preparation.
There are a number of important steps you need to take before the interview even happens. Take time to research the company, prepare questions, know what to wear and what to bring. During the interview be aware of your body language and your active listening. A way to prepare for this is by doing a mock interview, either record yourself or have someone interview you. You will be able to see things that you never even consciously knew you did; for example, say ‘um’ fifty times, play with your hair or just fidget in general. After the interview, always send a thank you note to all the people you spoke with and met. You can get their contact information because they will usually give you their business cards, if not, ask for them.
If after graduation you don’t feel you have enough experience, you are having a hard time finding a job in your career field or if you just aren’t sure what you want to do – an international internship after graduation is the answer. Global Experiences will prepare you for that next step through a comprehensive graduate internship program to make sure that you are ready to move towards your career path. A Global Experiences’ internship will help you reach your goals, prepare for an interview, compose your resume and cover letter, understand your strengths, so you can ace your internship experience and turn that into a job afterwards, and so much more!