Graduation means a change in lifestyle—no longer are you a student, but now you face the world as an appropriately qualified professional. There’s a world of possibility out there, and succeeding in the world outside of academia means learning how to navigate it.
While degree programs are great at preparing students for their careers, there are many first-time situations young professionals will find themselves in that they won’t know how to get through until they finally experience them. So what does a new graduate have to know about entering this new stage of life? These 14 professionals from Forbes Coaches Council offer their advice to graduates on how they should approach this strange new world.
1. Continue Your Learning
There are far too many studies that tell us that once we leave college we tend to stop having a specific strategy and commitment to learning. And yet, nothing could be more important in today’s professional landscape. Continued personal and professional development matter greatly, so always look for continued opportunities to grow, not just places to demonstrate what you already know. – Kathi Laughman, The Mackenzie Circle LLC
2. Build A Network
Many graduates are told about the importance of building their network and I would totally agree with this emphasis. While doing this to benefit themselves, they should also be aware that they should reciprocate when others ask for help. Networking is a two-way process, and anyone who only takes without giving back will find their network will stop responding. – Dan Ryan, Ryan Search & C3.
3. Learn To Ask The Right Questions
Asking the “right” questions moves a discussion forward, pulls in new thinking and uncovers new information. It means forgoing asking obvious questions for the questions’ sake. Formulate the right questions by listening for underlying conflict. What’s not being said? When you connect those threads, you demonstrate your listening skills, ability to hear nuances, your intelligence and your creativity. – Teri Citterman, Talonn
4. Just Keep Moving Forward
As a graduate, you will hear a chorus of “What are you going to do with your life?” and “Did you get a job in your field?” and many more inquisitive questions that can often feel very intrusive. Just keep moving forward. Sometimes it’s the thing you don’t do that becomes the best thing you ever do. And be kind to yourself—you don’t need to figure out your whole career on graduation day. – Laura M. Labovich, The Career Strategy Group
5. Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Be OK with taking risks because life has a unique way of opening doors and providing opportunities we don’t see until we allow ourselves to venture outside of our everyday. Spend some time exploring what truly matters to you, identify the opportunities that align with what truly matters and leverage your network so you can take focused and deliberate action to seize those opportunities. – Dennis Volpe, LRI
6. Get Outside Yourself
As a university professor, I teach students who are graduating soon and hear their conversations. What I have discovered is that those who are thinking only of themselves typically don’t get positions that bring them longer-lasting job satisfaction. Students who are looking for jobs with deeper meaning, with companies who are making an impact in the world, are those who discover deeper joy! – Susan Madsen, Utah Valley University & Madsen Global Leadership
7. Take The Journey Inward
Many soon-to-graduate college students get so much advice about what employers are looking for, which is great. At the same time, so many do not even know about their own personality preferences, strengths or emotional intelligence. Utilize the college’s career resources or find a coach to dig in deep to your own wiring and personality preferences. – Dr. Denise Trudeau-Poskas, Blue Egg Leadership
8. Don’t Expect To Make Perfect Choices
The transition from college to the working world is one of the hardest transitions in your life. Don’t expect to make perfect choices, but keep moving forward and learn from the choices you have made. Take a mastery mindset, not an achievement mindset, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. – Brad Elson, Palmer OSG
9. Show Up And Show Out
You are entering an even more challenging but incredibly exciting time in your life! Competition is fierce, but you can be fiercer. You do that by showing up as the very best version of yourself everywhere you go and in everything you say and do. You never know when an opportunity will lead to other (and bigger) opportunities. You need to learn how to show up and show out on a daily basis! – Bridgett McGowen, BMcTALKS, LLC
10. Don’t Limit Yourself
Follow where your intuition and acumen take you! After earning business-focused IT and journalism degrees, I set out to work in IT for 18 years, while enjoying my involvement in recruiting at my employers’. I finally blended these skills by developing a resume writing business. Don’t limit your vision and goals to traditional path—look more closely at what your interests are telling you. – Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CIC, COPNS, CTTCC, An Expert Resume
11. Add A Human Touch To Your Search
Recent grads are technology-driven and need to develop old-fashioned networking skills. Most have a mistaken belief that the only jobs available are the ones posted online and that the only channel to apply is through the online portals. You need to be your own advocate and that means reaching out, through LinkedIn or otherwise, to meet the people involved in hiring for the job you are seeking. – David Galowich, Terra Firma Leadership LLC
12. Get Your Digital Footprint In Order
Employers are sourcing directly off LinkedIn. It is important to have a public profile. You must show more than your college degree and grades. Include internships and portfolio work. Showcase professional certifications earned through your college or on your own. Certifications matter to employers. Knowing how to use the tools in your profession and industry is a competitive advantage. – Tracy Levine, Advantage Talent, Inc.
13. Don’t Sell Your Dreams
Don’t be afraid to follow your heart. Heart always knows. Mind is the judger and chooser and it plays a never-ending, hard-to-win game. Therefore, spend time with yourself to get to know yourself. Stay present. Invest time and energy in your emotional competence—emotional intelligence is not enough. Be intentional. Bet on progress, not perfection. Stay open—there is more to discover. – Kasia Jamroz, Conscious Leading Solutions L.L.C.
14. Don’t Be In A Rush
If you can, take some time to explore the world before settling down to a career and life-long commitments. Now is the time to travel, to experiment, to seek out new people and experiences. All of this is much easier to do before there are mortgages and bills to pay. Don’t be in a rush to dive into a career. Broadening horizons now may help clarify your wants, needs and goals for the future. – Gary Bradt, Bradt Leadership, Inc.
Forbes Coaches Council, Forbes, 6 April 2020.