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The Ultimate Guide To What To Do Once You Graduate College

The Ultimate Guide To What To Do Once You Graduate College

You graduated college? This is it. Congratulations! Now what?

Graduating college is a major milestone for many young adults because it represents the final leap into adulthood, but what’s next after college?

This is a question that many recent graduates ask themselves and struggle to find the answer. Should you start work or do more school? Should you get a job or travel the world for a bit? Should you stay in your local city or move away? Should you start a business?

Society has a prescription for young adults when it comes to figuring out what they want to do in life:  Go to college, get a high-paying job with competitive salary and benefits, climb the ladder, buy a house, retire at 65.

The only problem with this is that it doesn’t guarantee true happiness and fulfillment.

Your early 20s are a time to experiment, to get to know more about yourself, and to figure out the kind of person you want to become.

It’s ok if you don’t know what the next step is. What’s not ok is choosing a path that you feel pressed into because of what society expects of you. If you are not sure of what to do next, then this is a perfect time to develop an intentional experimentation mindset where every experiment takes you closer to your true purpose and interests. Intentional experimentation is all about experimenting with a variety of opportunities. These experiments help you know more about yourself and find the right fit.

If you are struggling with figuring out your next step after college, here are a few options that you might want to consider:

Graduate School

This is a very personal decision and there’s no definitive right or wrong answer.

Graduate school is for you if:

  • You are clear on the field of study you want to pursue and have the time to commit to it.

  • Your employer pays for it.

  • You have joint undergrad and graduate school programs.

  • You have at least 2 years of work experience in your chosen field.

Graduate school is not for you if:

  • You are not clear on your field of study.

  • You don’t have the time to commit to a graduate program.

  • You want to get more experience under your curriculum to increase your admission chances and have a better learning experience.

  • You have other financial priorities.

  • You are exhausted and need a break from academic settings.

  • You just want to avoid the real world and prolong your “student” status.

  • You are being pressured by family, friends, or society.

What to do if you decide you want to apply to graduate school?

  • Before you apply, decide your professional goals and determine what you should study.

  • Research institutions and programs of study. Talk to experts in your chosen field of study and those who are attending the school and programs that interest you. Find out about admission requirements, tests, deadlines, financial aid, etc.

  • Visit potential schools, if possible.

  • Register and prepare for admission tests.

  • Look into scholarships, fellowships, or loan programs that can help finance graduate school.

  • If you are studying abroad, you might need to have your transcripts translated.

  • Draft your statement of purpose and application essays.

  • Request letters of recommendation.

  • Don’t submit your application unless you have prepared in advanced, done proper research, and have compiled all required documentation.

Searching for Jobs or Internship

It’s important to keep in mind that while getting a job or internship helps in building your resume and acquiring new skills, it can also have negative consequences if not done properly. It’s not about getting just any job or internship but about matching your skills, interests, and passions to meaningful opportunities.

Searching for jobs or internships is for you if:

  • You want to get work experience in your chosen field.

  • You are clear on the career path you want to pursue and want to experiment with different job opportunities.

  • You are not comfortable with going on your own and starting your own business.

  • You want to be independent and start earning your own money.

  • You want to improve your curriculum for graduate school.

Searching for jobs or internships is not for you if:

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  • You want to take time off to explore and get to know more about yourself.

  • You want to start a business.

  • You are not interested in joining the workforce anytime soon.

  • You don’t know what work ethic means.

What to do if you decide to search for jobs or internships?

  • Use your school’s career services office.

  • Join a professional development or industry specific group.

  • Create and optimize a LinkedIn profile.

  • Showcase your skills with an online portfolio.

  • Check out career fairs.

Traveling

Traveling is one of those things that if done right, it can completely change your life exposing you to new opportunities that might have not been in your perspective before. A lot of adults wish they had traveled when they were younger before entering the workforce. That’s because once work starts, in most places you only get 2-weeks out of the year to travel and that’s not enough time if you really want to travel and explore different cultures.

Traveling could be for you if:

  • You are not sure of the path you want to take in your personal and professional life and want to take some time off to travel and get to know more about yourself.

  • You want to take some time to volunteer and help others less privileged than you.

  • You have minimum financial obligations.

Traveling is not for you if:

What to do if you decide you want to travel?

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  • Talk to your family and explain that you want to take some time off to travel and explore the world. Even if they don’t agree with the idea, at least they will know what’s going on and not freak out because you’re not following the traditional path.

  • Decide where you want to go and for how long.

  • Determine your budget.

  • If you don’t have a budget, figure out ways you can generate some cash. Working abroad, freelancing, crowdfunding, volunteering, family, etc.

  • Book your transportation months in advance for cheaper tickets.

  • Find a place to crash. It could be a friend’s couch, hostels, and if your budget allows, hotels.

Immersing yourself in another place and culture is a learning experience that will totally change your perspective about life and it will last longer than any car or any piece of furniture you may purchase in your lifetime. It’s an investment in the life experience that your future self can only benefit from. Make the most of it and let it change you.

Starting a Business

If you are 100% sure you want to start a business and become an entrepreneur, this is the time to do it. There are many businesses you can start, particularly with the internet. It will be a very bumpy ride with ups and downs but you will learn a lot about sales, marketing, leadership, operations, branding, and most importantly, you will learn how to fail and get back up again (many times).

Starting a business is for you if:

  • You don’t want to get a job and work for someone else being told what to do.

  • You understand it’s a learning experience and you will fail many times.

  • You prefer to invest your time and money into real world experiences developing your ideas rather than traveling or graduate school.

  • You are ok with taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Starting a business is not for you if:

  • You can’t handle the stress of starting and running a business.

  • You feel more comfortable getting a job and working for someone else.

  • You cannot commit to it 100% of your time.

  • You are not comfortable with validating your ideas and asking for money.

What to do if you decide you want to start a business:

  • Validate your idea(s) as quickly as possible with friends, family, and immediate network. If you can get at least three paying customers, you are on to something.

  • Come up with a catchy company name and concentrate your efforts on sales, marketing, leadership, and personal development.

  • Take care of your health no matter what.

  • Assemble your team.

  • Seek advice from mentors, develop a business plan, and seek funding.

  • Enjoy the ride!

Moving Back With Your Parents

While moving back with your parents might not be a right fit for everyone, it definitely has its advantages considering the steep costs of living on your own. Living at home can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn more about yourself and build a stronger relationship with your parents.

Moving back with your parents is for you if:

  • You are not sure of the career path you want to follow and need some time to explore and get to know yourself better.

  • You are not ready to live on your own and pay expensive rent. The last thing you want to do is being stuck in a city and job you dislike just to afford rent.

  • You have no internships, job, or travel plans lined up.

  • Your parents are ok with you moving back home.

Moving back with your parents is not for you if:

  • You are absolutely sure about the place you want to live in and the type of career you want to pursue.

  • You don’t want to play by your parents’ rules.

  • You have a bad relationship with your parents.

  • You have job opportunities lined up and are too independent to move back home.

What to do if you decide you want to move back with your parents?

  • Set a time frame for how long you are planning on living there and the main purpose of moving back home. Do you just need a place to stay before you start graduate school? Do you need somewhere to live at until you can save enough money and move out on your own? Be very clear on this and check back with your parents once this timeframe is up.

  • Set expectations about money and things to do around the house. Talking about money and house chores might feel awkward but it’s important to remember that being clear on how things are going to work while you live at home makes the experience much more symbiotic. Are you going to pay for rent, food, and living expenses? Are your parents going to cover you 100%? How can you help around the house with some yard work or fix-it projects?

  • Don’t forget to build your own life. Just because you are at your parents’ waiting until you can move out on your own, doesn’t mean your life is on pause. Volunteer, date, explore new things, and do your best to continue learning and growing instead of just waiting for your first opportunity to move on to somewhere else.

Whether you decide you want to travel, start a business, get a job, do more school, learn new skills, or just take some time off, the most important thing you can do is to have a clear why. Ask yourself: “Why am i doing this?” The answer to this question will not only allow you to get to know yourself better but it will also give purpose to whatever it is you decide to do.

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Published on September 17, 2018

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

There is one thing standing in the way of you and the job of your dreams: a phone interview. The screening interview is an opportunity for companies to narrow the list of presumably qualified applicants and determine who merits a closer look.

So many candidates exclude themselves from the phone interview by being unprepared or by failing to take this screening session seriously. A phone interview should not block you from living the life you have always imagined.

Here are 17 tips to help you ace your next one:

1. Clear the deck.

If you are reading this blog, you are likely busier than you would prefer or even imagine. Even when you schedule or accept phone interviews, they are likely sandwiched between meetings.

To show up fully present, energized and engaged, I recommend you clear the deck and give yourself at least an hour of uninterrupted time before and 30 minutes following the interview.

You can use the time to mentally prepare, develop a list of questions, rehearse answers to likely questions and ensure you are comfortable and ready for the interview.

2. Look the part.

It is no secret that we perform better when we look and feel the part. If you have a phone interview, dress up for the interview, if dressing up is comfortable and allows you to put your best foot forward.

Even though you will likely do the interview from home or a private location, be sure you are dressed professionally. This will allow you to be fully engaged and present.

In the event, the interviewer asks to connect with you via Zoom, Google Hangout or Skype, you will be prepared.

3. Resend your resume and cover letter prior to the call.

As a courtesy, resend your resume and cover letter prior to your screening interview. You never know if the person interviewing you has had a busy day or if a schedule change forced him or her to work from home rather than the office where the individual has access to their files.

There have been many times in my career where a last-minute change or a mix-up with support staff has left me scrambling at the last minute to find a candidate’s resume. It is quite embarrassing to misplace a resume and ask the interviewee to resubmit it.

You can save the interviewer the trouble and earn extra points by resending both documents in advance of your call. A simple message will suffice, such as “I am looking forward to speaking with you in an hour, and I am resending my resume to ensure it is at the top of your inbox.”

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4. Research the interviewer.

Once your interview is scheduled, be sure to research the person facilitating it.

You will want to Google the person and check their social media accounts. When you research the interviewer, try to get a sense of the individual’s personal and professional interests.

Once you identify those interests, acknowledge them in the interview, but do not dwell on them, because you do not want to make the interviewer uncomfortable. Follow his or her lead. If the interviewer indulges your questions or comments, by all means, continue the conversation.

I am always impressed when someone I am meeting with takes the opportunity to learn something about me ahead of time. This projects interest, which is important in my line of work.

5. Research the company.

In addition to researching the interviewer, be sure to research the company.

Ask people in your network if they know anyone who works or has worked for the organization in question. Conduct a Google search on the company, and be mindful to look beyond the first page of the search query.

If there are yelp reviews on the company, be careful to review those and look for trends as well as how recent the reviews were posted. While more recent reviews are obviously cause for pause, older reviews – depending on their nature – could be problematic as well.

6. Check the staff listing or “About Us” section of the company’s website.

Part of your research into a company is assessing whether you know staff or board members who are connected with the company.

Most organizations list their staff or board members in the “About Us” or “Our Team” section of the website. Prior to a phone interview, check these sections to determine whether you know someone who works for the company. If you do, reach out to that person to request a phone interview to learn more about the company.

7. Remember interviewing is a two-way street.

As much as the company representative wants to learn about you as the interviewee, you will want to learn about the organization.

Try to ferret out information on the company, the job for which you are applying as well as the manager to whom you would report. You will also want to ask questions to assess the interview process.

Additionally, because culture is important and will permit or slow your ability to do your job, ask questions to assess company culture, such as “What do your employees say they like most about working for your organization?” “What do employees say they like least?” “What do you do to create and maintain a healthy workplace culture?”

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8. Develop questions prior to the interview.

Prior to your interview, develop a list of questions about the company, the position for which you are applying, growth opportunities in the company, the ideal candidate for the position, and so forth. This will save you the trouble of thinking of questions on the spot during the interview.

I have found that once I become nervous, it is a lot harder to come up with questions on the spot, and interviews can be anxiety-producing without preparation.

9. Stand during the interview.

I train leaders and, incidentally, graduate students to become spokespersons.

I recommend that they stand during media interviews. I find that it helps the person speaking to project better, and it reduces the urge to get too comfortable in an interview setting and say something that could be too informal.

Similarly, I recommend interviewees stand for at least a portion of their phone interview.

10. Allow the interviewer to talk.

While it is essential you ask questions during an interview, you should not dominate the conversation.

Most people love talking about themselves and the company they represent, and it is your job as the interviewee to walk a fine line between allowing the interviewer to talk and interspersing questions when and where appropriate.

I am not suggesting you remain silent – you want the interviewer to learn about you; but you should ensure that the interviewer has ample opportunity to do what most people do best: talk about themselves and their work.

11. Refrain from multitasking.

We all live hurried lives, and most of us have to-do lists that are impossible to complete.

When we have multiple due dates and obligations, it is typical to want to avail oneself of every seemingly free moment of time.

When conducting or participating in a phone interview, be as present as possible. This means refraining from multitasking, which could mean responding to emails, text messages or social media messages. It could mean researching the company during the interview.

Whatever multitasking means for you, simply do not do it, especially during a screening interview.

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12. Conduct the phone interview in a place where there is minimal noise.

A common thread throughout this post has been that most of us live busy lives. So, it is natural to be on the go.

If you have the luxury of conducting a phone interview from home or a private office where there is minimal noise, do so. You may also rent a co-working space or ask a friend if you can borrow his or her office.

Whatever you do, select a place where there is minimal noise and distraction. The person interviewing you should not have to strain to hear what you are saying or compete with ambient noises.

When I am interviewing a candidate and competing with background noise, I grow frustrated and my focus can shift from getting to know the person to silencing the noise. Do not force your interviewer to choose.

13. Be punctual.

Do not leave the interviewer waiting. This is both rude and unprofessional, and it may count against you.

If you are able to follow my earlier advice and not schedule meetings within an hour of your phone interview, you should have no time being prompt for your discussion.

If you foresee that you will be late, be sure to give the interviewer a heads-up at least 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the call.

14. Focus on how you can and will help.

Let’s face it: people are naturally self-interested.

When you walk into an interview focused on what you can bring and how you can solve a hiring manager’s problems, you will set yourself and your candidacy apart.

Think about the challenges you could potentially solve and then share how your joining the team will benefit the company, not just you.

15. Take the interview seriously.

Do not assume you will have an opportunity to meet face to face with company representatives. Do not discount the weight that may be placed on phone interviews.

I once applied for a position on the East Coast while living on the West Coast. While my first interview was face to face, my interview with one senior leader was over the phone. I walked into the interview thinking it would be less intense than it was.

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From the moment the leader got on the phone with me, I was on my toes. I had to quickly recalibrate to handle the intensity of the questions lobbed on me.

To this day, more than six years later, that phone interview remains one of the most difficult interviews I have ever had. Fortunately for me, I was offered the job, but the experience still stands out as a learning lesson.

16. Send a thank-you note.

Kindness is underrated. We live in a society where most people are overscheduled and overbooked.

When faced with intense pressure, it can be easy to underestimate the role of kindness. But when someone shares a portion of the day with you by granting you an interview, you owe it to that individual and to yourself to send a thank-you note following the interview.

The note can be via email, a standard letter or a card. So few people do this that those who do stand out.

Become an individual who remembers this gesture of kindness and professional courtesy.

17. Be positive.

Energy really is contagious. If you don’t believe me, consider locking yourself in a room for one hour with people are upset. By the time you leave the room, you will be upset right along with them. It is natural to mirror the other person even if you do not realize you are doing it.

During your next phone interview, mirror positivity, both about the position, the company and most importantly, your skill sets. The interviewer will pick up on your energy and positivity and that will reflect favorably.

I cannot tell you how many times I have interviewed candidates who communicated no excitement or enthusiasm. Getting through the interview was difficult, not to mention, I kept thinking about what it would be like to work with the person daily.

Being positive not only helps you feel better, it helps the person interviewing you as well.

If you have read this list and want to add other tips, please tweet the link to this article and include the point you believe I missed. Use the hashtag #AceIt when you reach out.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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