Are you about to graduate? Do you know what do to next? If you answer yes to both questions, you are among a handful of students who have a plan after college. Most graduating college students have no clue what to do next. Those uncertainties can cause them to experience enormous anxiety and may result in poor career decisions. With so many resources available, why do so many students feel lost?
Students are constantly bombarded with career advice from well-meaning people, such as parents, teachers, and counselors that often inadvertently limit their ability to self-examine to find what they truly want.
Advice, whether from this article, parents, or others should not be accepted as gospel. If you are a student, always remember to analyze the information you receive and identify how they match your unique circumstance, values, and interests.
Another reason for students’ disorientation after graduation is the belief that they must get their ideal job right after graduation. Anything else means failing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Experimenting with several jobs is the reality of most recent graduates. Studies have found students who have completed an internship made better career decisions than their counterparts. Therefore, to minimize post-graduation anguish, students will find it beneficial to try part-time jobs, internships, and apprenticeships.
Besides these two pieces of advice—learning to analyze information, being willing to experiment—students can ask themselves the following three questions for more clarity regarding their career choice
What Do I Enjoy? What Do I Hate Doing?
Everyone knows it’s important to connect our job to our passion, but very few know the modus operandi of that process. Passion is not only discovered but also created. Many find their passion early in life, but for others, it’s a long, winding process. In this step, you simply need to get a piece of paper—or whatever you want—and list all the activities that keep you motivated for a long time. List everything that comes to mind and narrow the list to the top five interests. Those interests are what you will work with until you find something that people will be willing to pay you for.
Besides directly identifying your passion, you can use problem-solving as a starting point. Ask yourself: What bugs me? Many brilliant discoveries are achieved by people trying to develop solutions to everyday challenges. While passion is the best career advice you can receive, it can hamper critical and creative thinking if unbridled. Who knows? Maybe you will create your passion by trying to solve that issue that has been bothering you for so long.
What Are My Greatest Strengths?
When was the last time you asked yourself what your greatest strengths were? Part of thriving in life or on a job is to play to your strengths.
Companies are dynamic giant machines with lots of moving parts. Each person brings something to the table. What can you bring to the table? Think of it this way: if you don’t even know your capabilities, why would a company even hire you?
What Contribution Do I Want to Make?
The last step is what any interviewer would ask you: why should we hire you? The best answer to this question will be in terms of the values you can create for the organization.
At that point, the company doesn’t care much about how talented you are, or how much experience you have. They want to know how much money you can make for the company.
Be honest with yourself. How can you add to the bottom line of the company? You are good at language? Frame your strengths, experience, and interests in ways that can create value for the company.
If you are about to graduate and considering entering the job market, remember to ask yourself the three questions above. Additionally, you must also avoid leaving a job just because you don’t like it. Give yourself some time and be open to trying different options before throwing in the towel.
Succeeding professionally is a process that requires deliberate effort, discipline, and a great deal of patience. When you stumble, find the reasons, learn from them, and start over.