First of all, congratulations! You did it, although it was probably unconventional. What matters is that you got that degree and have experienced all of the parts of college that make it so valuable. And that is so exciting.
For a little bit of context about who I am: my name is Hannah and I am the Social Media Associate at Kate Rae Digital. I started with the agency about a year ago as an intern and recently transitioned into the Associate role. It’s been a year full of learning and growth and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
For today’s blog post I’ve put together some thoughts about things that I wish someone would’ve told “recent college graduate” Hannah. The version of me who didn’t have a job lined up for after graduation, didn’t quite know what she wanted to do with her career, and who was nervous about her future. Take with you what resonates from these tips, I wish you all the best in your endeavors!
1. It’s ok to take an intern position after you graduate.
I get it, it’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game when you’re anticipating graduation or have just graduated. You might go into your job search expecting to land a higher level job in a fancy new corporate office. My advice is to be open to taking a path that you may not have anticipated taking. Especially in today’s climate, know that it is completely normal and valid and ok for you to take a role as an intern. Shift your perspective and think of it as a stepping stone that is getting you to where you want to be. Communicate with your manager and coworkers about your professional goals and aspirations so that they are aware and can help you get there, sooner rather than later.
2. Don’t stress about the unknown.
This is a big one. And just something that I could tell myself about life in general after college. Things will fall into place, whether they turn how you expect them to or otherwise. When it comes to your career, know that you are only in control of so much. You never know who you could meet, what you could learn, or how your passions could shift that can lead you down a completely different path than you originally thought you would take. Be open to growth and be willing to step out of your comfort zone in terms of career exploration and diving deeper into what interests you. Take each day as it comes and be open to new possibilities. Everything will work out in ways that you didn’t even know were imaginable.
3. It really is about your connections with people.
You might not think your friend from high school’s aunt’s best friend would end up being your boss, but sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles. We’ve all heard the “networking is so important” advice, and I’m here to tell you that it’s true. I’m not just talking about the “networking at your school’s job fair” kind of networking. To me, it’s about being transparent and sharing your career aspirations, interests and goals with the people you surround yourself with so that they are able to connect you in an organic way with people who might have an opportunity, or a connection to an opportunity, for you. Keep an open mind to potential gateways and relationships that could propel you towards where you want to be. Be willing to learn from and (virtually) meet with people who currently work in roles or for companies you might be interested in. I would even argue that you should keep an open mind to meeting with people who are in roles you don’t know much about - you are only in a position to gain from creating that relationship. And if nothing else, you’ve gained knowledge and insight in knowing it’s a road you’re not interested in going down.
4. Go above and beyond the duties of your job description.
You’ll get where you want to be in your career by doing more than what is expected of you. Make it a habit to actively seek out more opportunities for work that you’re genuinely interested in, passionate about and want to be doing more of in future roles. You’ll not only gain valuable experience doing the work (that looks great on a resume!), but will be more likely to be considered for a promotion and given a great review or reference. There are really only positive consequences from doing more than is asked of you. You’ll learn and grow in ways that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
5. Have fun along the way.
I often used to associate being a young professional on a successful career path with long hours, not a lot of balance, and general unhappiness. My advice is to make sure you’re having fun along the way. Jobs like this exist! This could mean a variety of things, depending on your specific situation. Maybe it’s setting boundaries for communication with coworkers and clients after you clock out. Maybe it’s not working on the weekends. Maybe it’s shifting your path to discover what you’re passionate about and do more of that. Maybe it’s taking a vacation every so often to rejuvenate so that you can do your work with a clear mind and feel more energized. Whatever makes you happy, try and do more of that. Take care of yourself.
If you have any additional questions or want to get in touch, feel free to comment on this post or send me an email at email@example.com. I’d love to chat!