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Post-College Advice for Unemployed Graduates

Graduating college without a job lined up? A lot of students are in the same boat. Here's what you can do to boost your career prospects and find work ASAP.

Finals are over. Grades are in. The walk has been taken and tassels have been turned. You've spent the last four years (give or take a few) completing what many won't: college. Over three million students graduate from college every year, entering into the postgrad world whether they like it or not. It's exciting and scary all at the same time, and you may be a bit flustered by what to expect. If you're not graduating with a job offer lined up, here are five things you can do to boost your lifetime career goals.

Networking

Perhaps one of the best ways to advance your post-college career is networking. This simple task, grounded in
communicating effectively, can take you places. If you're new to networking, or perhaps professional socializing, this idea can be a bit overwhelming. A great way to get accustomed to networking is to start at social events in your town or city. Whether you go out to your favorite local spots to meet other professionals or seek out social networking events, you can meet some awesome contacts. Instead of a conference or perhaps traditional method of networking, you may choose to go to a party of sorts. Try searching online to get the lowdown on social networking events in major cities. Remember, it's not always about what you know but who you know.

Related: How to Use Your College Network to Land a Job 

Internships

Internships are a great way to expand your professional experience—with the possibility of earning an additional perk like an hourly wage! With an internship, the end result and placement on your résumé tend to matter more than what tasks you actually did during the course of it. Every internship is different: you may get a position at an amazing company, but the duties themselves may not be what you're interested in, or you could get an internship with a smaller company but hold a lot more responsibility. The best internships are those in your desired field, but don't discount the ones for companies not directly related. If you're looking to get into a general profession such as business, communications, or human resources, you should be able to find a variety of companies needing employees with those skills. The key to finding a good internship is to ask professors and school administrators for help, and also actively seek out businesses you're interested in on your own.

Freelancing

While this title may have some negative connotation associated with it, being a freelancer can also show a great deal of drive, motivation, and professionalism. A few things should be noted about entering the freelance world:

  • It is very difficult. Unlike having someone continuously hand you work, you have to actively seek out new job opportunities and work on your own.
  • You must be very organized. This is two-part; not only do you need to be organized when it comes to completing the work and keeping it neat, but you also must be organized when it comes to your time. Time management is crucial for freelancing. You have deadlines, restrictions, and major responsibilities.
  • You can do a lot. Freelance is a great way to expand your portfolio with many different types of work while keeping within your field. You're your own boss, so you can pick and choose which jobs you want to take, giving you more responsibility and flexibility with your career.

Freelance typically works best for those who can produce a product on their own, like a writer, designer, or coder, but other freelance work may be available. Visit sites like Upwork.com to find a plethora of freelance work from all over the world. 

Related: 7 Tips to Help You Profit With a Freelance Career 

Entry-level jobs

Every recent grad has this magnificent idea that when they graduate college, they're going to get their dream job and everything will be hunky dory. I don’t want to be the one to burst your bubble, but the reality is that there is always going to be someone far more qualified than you are. Instead of applying for jobs that require a lot of experience, apply for entry-level positions. It may not exactly be the job you want, but if it's with a company you want to work for, you may be able to move your way up to that dream job. Everyone has to start somewhere!

Grad school

If you majored in something that requires more schooling to really earn a good job in your profession, then taking the big step into graduate school makes sense. Those in medicine, law, or other professions may need the additional schooling right off the bat, but many other fields, particularly in the sciences, offer more opportunities to those with advanced degrees. If you're not seeking a profession that needs more schooling but know that you want to go to grad school in the future, consider going straight after undergrad. While many business graduate schools would like candidates and students to have some professional work experience, academic merit and glowing recommendations may be all you need to advance your educational career. Once you finish graduate school, you can pursue jobs with higher requirements.

Related: Pros and Cons of Graduate School During COVID-19

Graduating from college is one of the most exciting things you will do in your life, but it can also be scary, especially if you don't have a job lined up like your friends might. Explore all your postgraduate options and do what's best for you and your career. Everything will fall into place eventually! 

If you think you'd like to take a "gap year" between college and adulthood, check out this article on What to Do When You're Not Ready for the Real World.

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adulting careers finding a job graduate school internships postgrad

About Lamar Hull

Lamar Hull is a former student-athlete at Davidson College who also played professional basketball in Europe. He loves to provide college and sports advice. You can follow him on Twitter @lamarhull20.

 

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