When you’re about to graduate, life advice is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. “Take a year off to travel,” “Apply to graduate school as soon as the dust settles,” “Find a job you love.”
So much good advice, but knowing what to do isn’t the hard part. How do you achieve the future dreams that have motivated you through sleepless nights of studying? Especially when the job market is tougher than ever for white collar workers, with an economy that seems to be improving at the pace of a stick in the mud.
So, you don’t want to settle for a cubicle job, and you don’t want to be so overconfident that you blow an opportunity and wind up washing cars or flipping burgers. Pick the career of your dreams, and follow these five easy steps, and by next year you’ll be on the path to the career of your dreams.
- Practice Due Diligence
Certain gigs look better on paper (or on television) than they do in reality, so don’t just assume you want to be a veterinarian because you love animals, or a talk show host because you love making people laugh. Instead, research the reality of the gigs you most admire. What does Jimmy Fallon actually have to do to prepare for his late night show? How did he get to where he is today? Where did he start and what were his odds?
Face it; even though medical school is grueling, you’ve got a better chance of becoming a doctor than you do a famous pop-star. So, keep reality in mind and learn the nitty gritty about even the most seemingly glamorous of industries.
- Learn so you’ll Earn
Once you’ve set a career goal that’s grounded in a real life understanding of the expectations and demands of your dream job, you can begin to make practical headway by designing your curriculum around your goals.
Even elective courses have something to offer the astute and hungry student, so don’t waste your time with fluff or fillers, always ask yourself which skills you’ll hone in any course, and make sure those skills will improve your future perspectives.
- Start to Network Now
Everyone you meet might be your future foot in the door, so make wise decisions when you interact with new people, and never forget the strength of a first impression. Firm handshakes, memorable conversation, and follow-ups to any relationship bearing potential: these are the cornerstones of forming a network that will successfully nurture your future career.
Don’t rely on basic, informal networking, via linkedin or Twitter. These modes are too all-encompassing. To avoid being washed away with the other plankton, focus on creating a memorable, but not intrusive or impolite, correspondence. Reach out personally with a brief phone call or an email.
Even these modern methods have become outmoded by easier, less connected methods of networking, so set yourself apart by taking a little extra time, and proving you can still carry a one-on-one conversation.
- Interview for Jobs you don’t Want
This may sound like a waste of time, but in fact, it’s a clever way to hone your interview skills sans knee-buckling pressure, and it’s just another avenue for expanding your network.
Be gracious about jobs you don’t receive, send personalized notes of appreciation after every interview. Never forget the power of simply being likeable (even, and especially, when you’re not hirable). A potential employer who likes you as an applicant may recommend you for other, even better opportunities.
- Stay Busy
If you aren’t working at your dream job, find a peripheral activity that reflects your ambitions, and spill abundant energy and enthusiasm into it. Personal success, extra curricular success, charitable success, they all end in the same adjective as far as future employers are concerned.