With graduation just around the corner, the next step is top of mind for college seniors. Some apply to graduate schools; others start looking for post-graduate employment. I was one of those students, scared after a lifetime of moving from one level of education to the next that I wouldn’t know exactly where to go when it all came to an end.
Oh, and I majored in creative writing. So you can imagine how visceral my fears of unemployment must have been as I waded into my final lap of matriculation. Scary stuff. Fortunately for us both, there’s a happy ending.
I graduated May 13, and I started my first job as a college graduate on June 1.
Here’s how I did it:
1. Look Beyond the Obvious
Tell your family you’re majoring in English, and you’ll probably hear something along the lines of, “Oh, are you going to be a teacher?” I know I got that more than once. Or say you major in journalism; the most obvious next step is to become a journalist, right?
If you decide not to pursue another round of higher education in favor of finding post-graduate employment, look beyond the obvious. Don’t just Google “[insert your major here] jobs.” Take a few online quizzes. Read a few articles. Look for jobs you think you’d be good at it (even if those jobs aren’t the obvious choice.) That’s what I did.
2. Lean on Your Network
I also asked for help; I went to my college’s career service office, and reached out to family friends that I knew did the kind of things I wanted to do when I was just a sophomore. Fast forward to the fall of my senior year. I’m interviewing for the Arkansas Fellowship with 3 internships in my back pocket. I wouldn’t have had those opportunities without a little hard work on my part, and a lot of leaning on the people I knew.
3. Never Pass Up Experience
Around the time I interviewed for the Arkansas Fellowship, I was offered a fall semester internship with a local startup company. I had a thesis to work on, other papers to write, a million job applications to send out, but I said yes immediately.
When you start looking for jobs, you’ll notice most open positions list a magical requirement: at least two years experience. That may seem ridiculous for an entry-level position to require an applicant have more than entry-level experience, but neither of us get to make hiring decisions. So how do you set yourself apart from other soon-to-be college graduates? Experience, experience, experience–don’t pass it up.
4. Practice Interviews
You’re brilliant, I’m sure. But practice, please. When you exercise the thought processes involved in a job interview before your job interview, you perform and feel better.
Before I interviewed for any of my internships, before I interviewed with the Fellowship, I practiced. It helped. I felt more confident, I anticipated most questions, and I got what I wanted every time. Reach out to your career services office. They probably do mock interviews, and if they don’t, they’ll point you to the people who do.
I’m interested in the business world, but my major isn’t business-related.
The Arkansas Fellowship may be for you. More and more businesses are learning what you probably already knew intuitively: not all creative thinkers, problem-solvers and team leaders took an economics classes.
Now, they’re using programs like the Fellowship to find those diamonds in the rough–those creative writing and american history students that have a knack for solving problems and leading groups. You can learn more about the Fellowship here.
I came across the Fellowship as a junior, and I almost didn’t apply when I was a senior. Then I did, and I had an awesome job waiting for me by Christmas.
6. Keep Applying
Before I knew Collective Bias selected me, I didn’t assume I had anything locked up. For the last few years, I’ve tried asking myself in circumstances beyond my control, “what is in my control?” Try asking yourself the same, and keep putting your best foot forward.
Hopefully, we see your name on an application this fall.