Most prospective college graduates today will find themselves in the unenviable position of having no career prospects and no entry-level professional job. Even though they have paid $200,000 for four years, they will find that the task of career implementation rests solely with them. The college placement office is, in most instances, useless.
You must begin to prepare for your career now. And, as a general rule, work in your field as soon as possible after you graduate. The next class of graduates will be right on your heals. I hate to put it so bluntly but no one wants to hire the unemployed. Most supervisors in most fields want bragging rights to the best people.
OK, so lets begin. There are three main points that you must agree to if this is to work:
First, forget all thoughts of taking it easy after graduation. Forget the trip to Europe and time you will spend with Auntie Em in New Zealand. You need to get to work now!
Second, you will need to become self-taught in the practicalities of your field. You need an immediate understanding that you probably did not receive in college. Most full-time professors who have their PhD cannot teach the practicalities and technical requirements of a “real” job. Most are strictly academics and have spent little time working in their field.
Third, you must create a career process that works similar to the environment in top-tier schools. Ivy league graduates help other Ivy league graduates get jobs. Networking among friends and former graduates of their school is key for them. You must begin to think like they do.
Step One-Make friends in your major field.
Forget about social fraternities and sororities. While in college make friends with other students in your major field who have similar values and career aspirations. Choose them wisely. They should have excellent work habits and be high achievers. You may have three, five or a dozen people in your association. The number is not important. But each associate must have a clear understanding that all of you must work together to achieve the professional career goals of all members.
Step Two-Get your friends in a think-tank group.
You must first draw up a game plan that works to help all members of your group attain employment. Consult the internet and learn the methods of experienced employees in your field. Tap into corporate websites and review report writing, strategies and concepts that corporations apply every day. (I do not suggest using textbooks as a resource since many of these authors also are full-time professors who have no experience in their field.)
You can do this yourself or with a couple of members of your group. You are going to begin to think and act like a consulting company with one major difference: you will be providing your services for free. Your company will build a portfolio of reports, presentations, plans and strategies.
For example, risk management is becoming an important by-product of the corporate world. In fact almost every corporate initiative and plan can have a risk-management strategy. Think of it and plan it. These reports will become part of a portfolio that you will present to prospective employers as an example of work you have done for other organizations.
Step Four-Submit your reports and presentations.
If one of the associates in your group lands a job he or she should help the others by accepting reports and presentations. That person will become a key referral for you in your job search. And don’t be afraid to network to professionals outside of your group (within your chosen profession) by offering your services free of charge.
Remember, to get a job today you need experience and referrals. You may also need to accept lower level entry employment as long as you can advance later.
This process (or variations of it) helps keep you in the game. You train yourself and give yourself experience. It shows you are a self-starter.