Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Transitioning University Students

2009-04-21 17:35:52

As college graduation season approaches, coupled with summer break, I’m going to devote some time to student concerns. With the economy being so tight, many grads are probably worried about finding a job, rightfully so.

But there *is* some good news: companies are trying to streamline their budgets and new grads are *cheaper* to employ in a lot of areas. It’s not an insult, just economics.

With that hopeful reality, here are a few tips.

1) Talk to Mom/Dad about whether or not you can return home if you are unable to find a job right out of school. Remember to address issues such as rent, expectations regarding your participation in the household. When I moved back home after I graduated, I’d been on my own for several years, was used to coming and going as I pleased. I paid a nominal rent, but my folks hadn’t dealt with an adult child and expected things to be similar to when I was a teenager. Eat with the family, help with chores, and even a curfew. I felt that I was renting a room and could live my life as I pleased. It was a tough adjustment period for all of us. Talk about these issues openly and make sure you set expectations early and realistically.

2) Be open to relocation. So many young adults return to their hometowns, only to find they cannot find a job. I know a young creative professional that got a degree in Media Arts. Her long-term goal is to work editing music videos. But she doesn’t want to move to the place she really needs to be…LA. She is insistent that she can do everything remotely from her hometown in Texas. She has been unsuccessful in finding a job over the past year and a half.

3) Don’t be too proud to accept help from your parents and their friends/colleagues. In our twenties, many of us are so focused on our independence that we refuse help from our most valuable network…our parents and their professional networks. Networking is the *single most important* way to finding a job. Your parents’ generation are often the ones making hiring decisions. Remember, they can get you the contact info, but it’s up to *you* to wow the person at the other end.

4) Speaking of networking, talk to professors, advisors, even T.A.’s at school. If you are in a fraternity/sorority, connect with your local alumni to network. Sign up for the alumni newsletters. If you are on a sports team, talk to your coach. You might find out he still keeps in touch with the goalie he coached fifteen years ago that is now a manager at a large company that has entry-level openings. Most people are always happy to help a fellow alum.

5) Consider a part-time job. Employers prefer someone working at the local movie theater in the evenings while they are job searching over someone that doesn’t do anything for the year after graduation.

6) If you are at all motivated, consider a volunteer or overseas job like teaching English in another country or joining the Peace Corps. Now is the time to have a great adventure and expand your horizons beyond imagining. And it looks great on your resume.

7) Your local state Unemployment Office is a great free resource for things like writing resumes, interview skills, and general information on the local economy. You don’t have to be on UI to take advantage of it.

8) Social and Business Networking sites like Twitter , LinkedIn , Facebook, and professional organizations can yield you invaluable contacts. Find a recruiter that is willing to look over your resume and give you pointers. There are *tons* of articles and blogs out there with solid advice on how to use these networks effectively.

9) Money: save it, don’t spend it. Now is not the time to go crazy with your graduation money on things like clothes and tech toys. You’ll need some professional attire for interviews, of course. But be frugal. Don’t run up credit card bills. Shop around for apartments and roommates if you are moving out; hit Craigslist for furniture if you don’t have any. Go to garage sales for household items like dishes. Ikea is your friend. If you need a new car, try and get a serviceable vehicle you can pay cash for rather than get into debt with car payments. You can always trade it in after you start getting money from a new job.

10) Health Insurance. You are not indestructible, and you are no longer eligible for your parents’ insurance. It is absolutely *vital* that you have health insurance. Individual policies are relatively cheap for young, healthy folks. Try a site like for individual rates.

11) Ask older siblings or other resources for help. Let’s be honest, your folks love you but they have not been in your position for a long time (hopefully) and they may not understand what you need and the tools you need to get there.

12) DO consider paying dues to join a professional association. Paying annual dues can give you discounts on events, access to new trends and contacts like member directories.

Most of all, keep your spirits up and don’t get frustrated if you aren’t employed by the 1st of July after graduating in June. Take time out for yourself. Get together with your friends, volunteer (great resume fodder!), enjoy nature, exercise regularly.

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