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6 Tips to Jumpstart Your Career Before Graduation


Do you know how to land a job in today’s economy?


Are you a college student, recent graduate or know someone who is about to enter the workforce for the first time?  Today’s economy requires a head start in order to land a decent job.  Here are 6 tips to jumpstart your career before graduation.


Intern, Intern, Intern

Figure out a way to work in your field of study before you graduate so you can build your resume with real experience.  Sometimes it leads to a job after you graduate, other times it leads to a more credible story during interviews with potential employers.  No matter your situation, you should make the time to get real work experience, even if it means working for free one day a week in a position that aligns with your area of study.  An internship should not be about making money…it should be about learning and using your skills.  If you work for free, you have more say in the experience you can achieve; you are there to learn, not make copies.  When you approach a company for free, you can say upfront what your expectations are: real work, real experience, shadowing other professionals, being part of actual work groups, leading a project team, etc.  


Don’t wait until graduation to start the job hunt.

If you take the time to search for your dream job before you are ready, you will have time to adjust your actions to become more prepared for the job you really want.  Look online at job descriptions, experience expectations, educational requirements.  Start putting your action plan together to achieve the experience necessary to land that dream job eventually; in the interim you are preparing your plan to target your first job coming out of college.


Don’t be intimidated by great opportunities.

Many new college graduates don’t apply for jobs because they are afraid of rejection; don’t be.  Going out on interviews is a good experience.  You never know what a company is really looking for until the interview; they might just be looking for you.


Do your homework.

Take the time to research the company you are interviewing with.  Understand their industry and their competitors.  Look at how they position themselves strategically and come up with a list of questions from that information.  Go into the interview ready to have a dialog, not just back and forth questions & answers about you.

Be confident, yet humble.

You should be proud of your accomplishments and be able to explain why those accomplishments make you ready and able to do great things at the company you are interviewing with.  However, realize that you are new and don’t have a long track record of experience.  Just because you have a great education, does not mean you know everything.  Just because you completed your MBA does not make you a great success story.  What it means is that you have worked hard to prove that you are interested in working even harder going forward, by utilizing the skills you have learned and putting them to use in the new job.  Express your openness to learning and being part of a successful team.  Know what you are good at and what you need to improve.  Today’s generation, in a world of texting and social networking, communicates differently than those before them.  Make sure you respect the social norms of the people you are interviewing with.  Look them in the eyes when talking, be candid yet respectful, and above all, actively listen.



Seek out mentors.

A mentor can be someone who is already successful in the career you are seeking, as well as someone who is simply successful in whatever it is they do.  The goal is to find professionals that can give you candid feedback, as you need it, throughout your career, as well as give advice, direction, answer questions and provide a caring perspective.  You don’t need to know these individuals before you ask them to be your mentors.  Sometimes mentors find you, other times you approach them and ask if they would be interested in meeting to allow you to introduce yourself.  Tell them what you would like to achieve in your career and explain why you are interested in developing a mentor/mentee relationship with them.  What is it about them that you admire?  You will be pleasantly surprised by the response you get.  Having mentors throughout your career will make your work life more enjoyable.  You won’t feel alone, as often people do when they are facing work’s battles.  You can also utilize the ManagingAmericans.com “Ask an Expert” community topics area to get advice.


Check out our article called Three Steps to Creating Great Mentor/Mentee Relationships.


Good Luck!




Written by Lisa WoodsPresident ManagingAmericans.com

Lisa is a successful entrepreneur, world-class marketing strategist, and dynamic business leader with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth. Throughout her career, Lisa has been influential in integration techniques, organizational and cultural overhauls, financial turnarounds and developing employees into exceptional leaders, results driven managers and passionate team contributors.


Do you have a question for Lisa?  Post it in our Executive Leadership Community, she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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