Chicago — It’s graduation season, a time of both joy and anxiety for college students slated to walk the stage. While the feeling of completing finals, receiving caps and gowns and celebrating college accomplishments is gratifying, the idea of one’s next steps can be daunting - whether you know what they look like, or not.
If you already have an internship or some job secured to start your post-grad life, you're wondering what to expect, how you’ll perform and how you’ll adapt to your new world.
Those without concrete post-grad plans might be bypassing celebrations for job-hunting sprees, feeling behind their peers who seem to have it all figured out.
In either case, here are two things both groups can keep in mind as they make a leap toward the workforce:
Lean into your relationship
Whether you know where you’ll be working after college, you’ll need the relationships you built along your college journey to propel you forward. If you're anxious about an internship or a job you're slated to start, connect with friends, mentors or advisors who’ve helped you succeed in school. Talk to them about your concerns and pick their brain on how you can better prepare for what’s to come.
Even those who don’t have a job lined up after college should repeat this exercise. Tell your colleagues about your search and be honest about the challenges you're facing in finding work. The people who’ve helped you before could do it again. They might have a job lead or advice about ways you can look more attractive to hiring managers.
Both groups should also find someone from a desired industry, field or position that could inform their journey. Hearing how others have accomplished goals you're pursuing now can be both inspiring and insightful.
Reflect on what you bring to the table
Making a transition to the workforce for the first time makes you feel like you're a first year student again - except in a school that has no concrete end point. Another difference is that you're armed with more experiences than you had as a freshman. You should probably take the time to think about it all - everything you’ve learned in college.
Consider the projects you’ve worked on and the skills you had to use during them. Think about the ways you had to balance your time amid shifting priorities and how successful you were at doing that. Maybe you lost a loved one while you were studying. What did that experience teach you about your life and what matters to you? Maybe you struggled with mental health and learned how to navigate certain challenges associated with it.
All these things will be important moving forward. When people hire you, they want to know the value you bring to a role. That’s why you need to be able to articulate lessons you’ve learned and at the least, be able to be honest about your journey to those insights.
The benefits of constantly doing this is boundless. Those heading to a job will be able to identify areas of strength and weakness in addition to how long they might want to stay in your role or an industry. The job seekers could see the same benefits in addition to using their reflection to hone their search and their interview skills.