By Shannon Wade,
The path for recent graduates truly varies because many newly grads are at an age where they are able to explore and try different things. You have the option to either: 1) search for a job to kick off your career 2) take some time off to relax and do things you didn't get a chance to do (ex. travel) 3) prepare to continue your education and maybe go for your masters. The world is your playground at this time and you have more flexibility to figure things out. However, no matter the decision you make after leaving college, ensuring that you're working on your professional growth and development is an important factor.
1. Establish and Keep in contact with your mentor
It is always best practice to have a professional mentor to help guide you through this transitional period. Ensuring you keep in contact with your mentor, who could plainly be a college professor, teaches you a key component of career development, networking. Having a mentor to offer you advice on how to take the next steps if you wished to start your career becomes crucial because they often can help you with the best approaches to take. For instance, I had a college professor teaching my Cancer Biology course who I would run email templates of how to ask for internship opportunities for research. He would help me narrow down the best place to find people who could potentially offer internship opportunities as well as give constructive criticism on how to ask for opportunities. Mentors are great people to have on your side when you're starting your career.
2. Keep up with best social media practices
In college, professors and career coaches have always stressed the importance of networking. However, when you leave college, this becomes more important because you realize just how connected everyone is. With social media becoming more relevant, ensuring that you have a LinkedIn account along with making sure your other social networks are clean enough for potential employers to see is imperative. Often mistakes on your social media, or posting/sharing information that might not be kosher sends an unfavorable impression of you. This become important when you're actively on the job hunt.
3. Start building a network
As a recent graduate, take use of opportunities to attend networking events and build your network. This includes reaching out to peers and keeping in contact with them because you are the next generation of employees and employers. Similarly, networking with professionals in the market you are interested in gives you the advantage of being connected with other professionals in that field. The more people you know, the more doors are opened for you if you establish and nurture a good relationship with them.
4. Getting involved in Volunteer work.
If you decide to take time off or have extra time, doing volunteer work/ community service is a great way to build yourself. Not only are you giving back to the community, volunteer work can be a really good resume builder. This shows prospective employers that you care about your surroundings and you care about people. Employers are always looking people who are genuine, care about others and are empathetic. By engaging in community service and volunteer work, you show many of these qualities if you are devoted to the cause. However, don't get me wrong, this should be done for the right reasons but volunteer work often makes you feel good about helping others.