Ah, college and grad school… where knowledge flows… like cold beer from a classic 2-barrel, stainless steel Kegerator tap. But, I digress, and so early into the post this time.
Any student can tell you that there is plenty to be learned on a college campus or in grad school. From the abstract to the practical, you’re going to gain an immeasurable amount of knowledge before that diploma is handed over. In fact, most of that knowledge may not even be appreciated until you are well into your post-graduation career transition.
In class, your professors offer so much testable information, but, in many cases, they completely avoid details about what to expect on the job search.
I don’t know if it’s because they’ve stuck to a purely academic route or if it’s because they’ve mentally blocked their own very painful job search memories, but there are so many things I wish my professors shared with me about how to land a job in my field after earning my degrees.
Here are a few:
A degree is not a golden ticket
You worked so hard for it and were promised so many good things after you earned your degree. After all that hard work, shouldn’t a degree get you into your dream job? Not necessarily. With just about 20 million Americans enrolled in college right now, you are one fish in a very, very big lake. Simply having a degree isn’t going to make you stand out anymore.
Experience is the other half of the equation
If a degree isn’t going to cut it, what makes a viable job candidate? Experience. An educated, experienced candidate is going to go a lot farther than someone with just a degree.
That means internships, part-time jobs, volunteering… Whatever is going to give you the right experience to complement your education, preferably while you’re still in school.
If you’ve already graduated, it’s never too late to intern.
Your G.P.A. is not important
Well, at least not as important as it is when you’re actually in school. The sad truth is that employers might not verify that you attended college or grad school, much less that you scored a 3.7 G.P.A. Instead of brandishing your G.P.A. like some kind of medal, include honors like the Dean’s List or graduating with honors on your resume and leave it at that.
Grad school is not a smart way to stall
For college students, it’s unfortunate, but I know plenty of people who chose to go to grad school simply because they weren’t ready to jump into the job market – or, if they graduated in 2008 or later, perhaps there wasn’t a job in the market ready for them. This is wrong for two big reasons: it’s expensive and grad school doesn’t hold the same weight in every industry.
If you want to go to grad school right after graduation, that’s fine. Just do it for the right reasons. Otherwise, you might find yourself a few years down the road broke and prospect-less.
Rejection will happen
As hard as this is to swallow, know that life post-grad is a lot harder than life in school. In school, professors give extensions, classes can be ditched, and courses can be repeated with forgiveness.
In the real world, the job search can (and will) be frustrating. Perfectly executed interviews will result in rejection and countless applications will never get a response. Some of the greatest minds in modern history dealt with their fair share of rejection, so you are not exempt.
What do you think? What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!