For the last three to five years of your life, your whole world has focused around your college and your course, from your social life to where you live. This can make many alumni feel incredibly daunted when they leave their college, and many graduates do not know where to start with building a life for themselves post-college. If you are about to graduate or you have graduated this year, this article will aim to put you on the right path and show you all of the many steps that you should consider taking to keep growing past college.
- Take Advantage of Alumni Benefits
Just because you have attended your graduation ceremony, this does not mean that the benefits of being a student end completely. Although you might not be able to get access to all of the facilities that you once did, being an alumnus opens up doors to a different array of benefits and opportunities that you would not have previously had. Alumnus boast about being able to access many of the services that they enjoyed while they were a student for long after their graduation. This includes access to a career service. Most colleges allow their alumni to access career counselors and even connect with their graduates to check in with their post-college progress. As an alumnus, you may also be able to access college libraries, where you can continue to learn on your own terms and expand your knowledge of your industry.
There are also many smaller advantages that you could receive as an alumnus. These include the ability to access a long-term professional email address with an academic account. You may also be able to access discounts on travel and entertainment services and even excellent bank and interest rates with a college credit union. Not only this but for many people, their student discount will still work for a few years after their graduation, ensuring that you can get everything from business supplies to interview clothing for a fraction of the price.
2. Spruce Up Your Resume and Portfolio
Throughout your time at college or university, it is likely that you will have neglected to update your resume due to your focus on your academic studies. However, you will not be the same person that you were when you created your resume. There will be a whole raft of different skills and knowledge that you can add to your resume from your time at college.
Before you leap into your job hunt, you should work on updating your resume while it is still fresh in your mind. As well as updating the education section, you should consider working on your skills and experience sections. You should add in any positions that you held on university boards or society committees, as well as any placements that you took during your time at college. You may also be able to apply any practical units that you did on your course to a workplace situation.
You should also work on updating your portfolio to be more professional. Portfolios are now starting to overtake resumes as the most important aspect of your job application. They are how you prove your talents and skills to employers, as well as exemplify the type of work you could produce for them if they were to employ you. Then, you should gather some of the key work that you created throughout your time at college or university. You must then compile this within a succinct folder, which can allow employers to instantly recognize your value to their company. There are also many ways that you can do this online through portfolio creation software.
3. Return to Education
If you still have not got university or college out of your system, you should consider whether a return to education may be right for you. Returning to education can allow you to build on the skills and knowledge that you acquired in your undergraduate course, or it can allow you to specialize in a certain subject. Not only this, but a return to education is often considered by those who want to broaden or even change their career options at an early stage. However, you must look at your reasons and ensure that you are not simply returning to education to avoid stepping into the world of work. This is because post-graduate degrees are often only useful for those that have a specific career path in mind.
To find the right post-graduate course for you, you should research each course and the college that it is held at, and what they could give to you. For instance, Marymount University has compiled a list of EdD careers that you could apply for with a Doctorate in Education. By studying the potential that each course option gives you, you will be able to determine whether it will benefit your career in the long-run and whether it is worth staying at college for another year or two to complete.
4. Harness Your Graduate Network
However, if you only get one thing out of your university experience apart from your degree, this should be a large and ever-expanding graduate network. Whether this is made up of your course-mates, professors, or a professional network that you have gained access to, this graduate network could be the key to the future opportunities that you have in your industry. For instance, your graduate network can allow you to find out about job opportunities, can help you to realize the many different pathways that you can take toward success, and can give you both career-based and emotional support from others in the industry.
To make the most of this network, you should always try to attend alumni events at your college or university, keep in contact with your network, and consider communicating with them when you are on the hunt for opportunities. You can even help this network to continue to grow by setting up a social media account for yourself on LinkedIn, where you will be able to grow your contacts and find those that you have already made.
5. Focus on Personal Branding
The first step that you should take when you are free from the pressures of college and university, though, is to focus on your personal branding. Within the ever-increasing competition of the job-hunting process, having a personal brand and promoting this can be the difference between turbo-boosting your career and letting it flop before it has already begun. To do this, you should create a website for yourself that has details of your experience, examples of your work, and contact details yourself. You should also put a lot of effort into writing your personal statement as this is the part of your job applications that allow you to stand out from the crowd and to market yourself as an individual.
In short, when you are branding yourself, you need to see yourself as a product, looking at yourself from an outside perspective and realizing the value that you could have to a target audience. Once you have created your ideal personal brand, you then need to get yourself out there, and that means get yourself everywhere, from social media to networking events.
6. Sort Out Your Finances
Once you leave college, you may not be in as stable a position as you may have hoped, with mountains of student debt and years of poor money management taking their toll. This can impact your ability to support yourself before you manage to find a job, especially if you are looking to start your own business or move away from home for work. Then, you should open a graduate bank account or keep your current student account. These can give you generous interest rates, a large, free overdraft, and support through your first years in the world of work. You should also set up a savings account alongside this so that you can start to put money away for the future. Although you might think that you need to worry about your student loan, now is not the time to do this, and this will come straight out of your bank account when you slip over the threshold for repayment.
You also need to sort out your living situation, with many people still living in student accommodation come graduation. Then, you should consider whether you can move out of shared housing, speak to your housemates about moving in together outside of college, and consider searching for locations that could give you the best job opportunities in the future.
7. Give Back to Your College
Lastly, now that you have earned your qualification from your college and relied on their support for several years, you should consider giving back to the college or university that has supported you. This could include volunteering for open days and events, considering returning to give talks, or even applying for alumni positions, which could help you remain an active part of university life for many years to come.