The following is a guest post written by Katie from Ask the Young Professional. If you are interested in guest posting for my site, please see my guest posting policy and shoot me an email.
It’s the month of May; graduates are walking across the stage and throwing their hats. Then they’re freaking out about how to get a job!
I find twentysomethings split between living the life in college and struggling after they walk across that stage. I hate for it to be that way. How can we prepare earlier? And if we’re knee deep in it now, what can we do?
Here’s my advice from experiences I learned from and from advice given to me.
If you’re still in college, the one piece of advice I can give you that is probably the most important is…
Get into your field as soon as possible and as much as possible.
Getting into your field early on will benefit you so much more when you graduate and start your career. You will learn your likes and dislikes; what to expect work life to be like; and you will have early connections who will give you great references later on. You will gather impressive capital and create a more developed story.
Start out interning part time or over the summer. If I could go back to college and do one thing differently, I would intern once a year, at least. Some places only accept Juniors and Seniors, so if I ran into that obstacle I would intern part time once a semester. Interning over the summer can be a great opportunity to intern somewhere full time if your school does not allow full time internships with their academic calendar.
Jump on the opportunity to be an assistant or apply for an entry level job. And at the very least, set up informational meetings.
If you’re already in your field, congrats! Here’s my advice to you…
Asking questions gives you so much insight on things you never thought you would even need to know. But most importantly, the sooner you ask questions the more knowledgeable you will be in your decision making.
Ask questions to figure out what the actual responsibilities are for different positions.
Ask questions to figure out what path is normally taken to climb the ladder, meaning what positions or experience do you need before you get to the position you really want.
Ask question to figure out what your field of work is really like; hours, traveling, working with teams, working alone, international, sporadic, steady, etc.
Know the Company You’re Working For
It is to your advantage to find out early on whether the company you are currently with is one you want to stay with long term, or if you need a plan to get what you can learn here but then leave after you get the experience you need.
Is it an environment you can see yourself working in for a long time?
Do people advance quickly or stay in the company for multiple years?
Do they hire a lot of freelance or staff?
These are some questions you can ask yourself to see what your possibilities are with the company. If they only hire freelance and rotate people quickly, I would suggest having a plan on what your next step is so you aren’t left without a job.
Know the Elements
Knowing the elements means you understand the different steps it takes to get a job done.
For example, the first time you throw a party it can be stressful and overwhelming, but once you know you need food, decorations, an invite list, location, etc. you start to get a handle of it. It is less stressful because you know the elements.
You will probably learn this overtime and by going through the motions yourself, but it is a good thought to always have in the back of your head while you observe others and what they do.
Above All, Know this Secret
No company, job, professional experience is the same. Be able to adjust and do what is asked of you.