If you’re graduating this May or June there have been at least 4,681,509 people that have asked you “what’s next?” Which is a logical step for someone that just spent 4+ years, tens of thousands of dollars, and countless all-nighters on a step to help improve their future. While the unemployment rate is on the rapidly declining, Millennials are still recovering from the worst economic downturns of their lifetime. Just four years ago the unemployment rate for those 18-34 peaked at 14%.
So what is next? When I graduated I wasn’t about to tell people that laying on my mom’s couch, applying for jobs, and eating pop tarts at 3pm was on my agenda. It is one thing to involve yourself in clubs, multiple part time jobs, and a strenuous course load- but to sit down and focus your efforts into one thing to become your livelihood, and act as a catalyst to your professional growth is daunting.
There are two driving forces in your job hunt. The first being the immediate- how will you pay your bills? The second- what will be fulfilling and make use of your brand new degree? It is important to evaluate your goals. You’re not going to become a CEO overnight (unless you’ve got a great startup idea- and if that is the case, get started on that right now before someone else does).
Think Objectively About Your Experiences
What was your favorite job? What was your favorite element of that job? What would actually make you leave a job? These are all things that you need to consider before throwing your resume into the ring. If you have the background to work in a financial firm but the thought of crunching numbers all day makes you want to crawl into a hole then you probably don’t want to start establishing yourself in the world of finance.
Make sure your career goals make sense. I’m not suggesting that you need a detailed 5-year plan, but a general overarching goal might help you orient yourself. Make sure the decisions that you are taking will leave you open to make moves that will achieve your ultimate goals in the future. If you want to be working for NASA in eight years, you shouldn’t waste two years answering phones for a florist.
Meet someone that knows that industry. Ask for informational interviews and sit down with people doing what you think you’d like to do. Someone speaking candidly about their experiences, their daily operations, and the career path they took, you may be able to more accurately assess if this is the right fit for you. In doing this- I ended up saving myself $200,000 worth of debt when I decided that law school wasn’t the right path for me.
Finally, consider meeting with a recruiter. Business Talent Solutions’ Principal, Dana Clemens, recently received this recommendation on LinkedIn :
“Dana worked with me after relocating to Seattle and it was a great experience. I think Dana’s insight into finding an excellent fit for a jobseeker is top notch. Dana asks some of the most thought provoking questions and a few times I found myself a little speechless because I hadn’t thought about the question she asked. She challenged me to think outside of what I thought I wanted in a career. I also appreciated all the help she provides getting ready for an interview. I highly recommend anyone to use her services!”
Recruiters understand the challenges and driving forces of the job market. They are able to help you prioritize your needs and consider elements of employment that you may have hastily overlooked in your rush to pay back your student loans before your Alumni Office starts calling for donations.