Submission: So you Graduated From College…Now What?

For many of you soon-to-be college graduates, the last four years of your life were probably based around papers, exams and late night pizza. But with graduation looming on the horizon, your focus now switches to one of two things: more school, as you enter a graduate program, or your imminent arrival into the “real world.”

Entering the job market and finding a career can be an intimidating thought, especially now since our society seems to revolve around social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, both of which make your life an open book. It’s easy for friends and loved ones to keep up to date on your every move, so when you are tackling an endeavor like finding a job, the pressure increases dramatically when your Mom is posting links to job ads on your Facebook wall.

There’s no denying the world has changed and the path you have to travel to find a career has changed as well. The following are some ideas on how to remain optimistic and make the most of this time in your life:

1. Remember your college experience was more than just academic learning
For most people, college was the first time they left home and became independent. So it’s no surprise that college is a great place for figuring out who you are and what your values are. When it comes to hiring, many companies don’t necessarily base their decisions on what you specifically studied at school, but more just the fact that you went to school. They know college does a lot for personal maturation and your college attendance shows you took time and made the effort to better yourself.

2. Don’t set unreal expectations
Many college grads assume that they will land their dream job right after they graduate– after all, that’s how it used to happen for previous generations. Unfortunately it doesn’t work quite the same way anymore, so don’t set unreal expectations for yourself when it comes to finding a job.  With today’s tough job market, it’s OK if you don’t land that perfect job right away. Think about it this way, people change jobs an average of 11 times during their work life, so if your current job is not your dream job, view it as a stepping stone to help you get there.

3. Be an entrepreneurial employee
As consumers, we expect companies to offer their goods and services faster, cheaper and more efficiently. So in order for businesses to stay competitive, they must find ways to meet the consumers demands. This means they can no longer afford to have employees that simply show up for their 9 to 5 shift; they need employees who bring value, ideas and creativity. By becoming an entrepreneurial employee, this will make you an indispensable asset to a company and increase your chances of promotions and recommendations.

4. Make a mental picture of what you want to achieve throughout your career
One of the most effective ways to do this is to create what I call a “Dream List” – this is a list of the ten most important things you want to accomplish during your career. So take a minute, close your eyes and imagine that you have just found Aladdin’s lamp and the Genie has given you 10 wishes. What would those 10 wishes be?  Become a Wall Street CEO?  Have a home-based business? Make enough money to have $1,000,000 at retirement? No matter what your dream, this is your chance to imagine your career at its most ideal. Look at this list often because you’re more likely to achieve something when you think about it regularly.

Over the past four years you have worked hard to earn your degree. Be proud of that – it’s a feat that many people do not accomplish. And even though it may not seem like it right now, your time at college was prepping you for your arrival into the “real world.” Remember to take everything one step at a time and continually work on making yourself an asset instead of an employee. Be patient, and eventually you’ll make it to the job of your dreams.

By Carol Holm, author of Take the Lid Off: Unleashing Your Unlimited Potential