What to Expect After College
"Oh, the places you'll go!"
This Dr. Seuss classic is far more than a children's book. It's also a popular graduation gift, because of its encouraging and optimistic message. "And will you succeed?" Seuss wrote. "Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)"
You've already positioned yourself in a high percentile for success, simply by earning your Bachelor's degree. That's a level of education most American adults have not achieved. Having earned it gives you a credential that's proven to open more doors after you graduate.
Which door will you choose, and where will you go? There are a number of options. Of course, you don't have to make up your mind today. It's okay to take time after the whirlwind of your final courses to sit back and carefully consider what you want next. Having a tentative plan in mind, however, will give you an idea of what steps you need to set in motion to achieve your next goal.
Here are some of the options you can consider for your post-graduation path.
Stay with your current employer
Graduates already established in the workforce are lucky not to have to worry about finding a new job right away.
Many of today's students support themselves by working through school. In fact, many of Ashford's students choose the university specifically because the flexibility of the online program allows them to keep their current jobs, accumulate seniority, and even possibly advance while they achieve the education necessary to achieve more long-term goals.
If you're already working, you'll still want to be ready when opportunity strikes. Does your current employer know you've completed your degree? Be sure to share the news. They may recommend you for an opportunity based on your new qualifications and history of employment.
Your degree gives you the chance to advance, whether you monitor the open positions at your current company or want to apply your degree somewhere new. Before applying to new positions, make sure you update your resume based on today's best practices.
Enter the market in style
Once you've polished your resume, brush up on your interview skills. Practice with a trusted colleague, mentor, or hiring manager. If there are specific companies or industries that you'd like to work for, research them to anticipate potential questions and get a leg up on your competition. Read industry news and check sites like Glassdoor and Indeed for insights on different companies' interview process and culture.
If you haven't kept your social media profiles up to date throughout college, now's the time to make those shine. A great LinkedIn page allows you to share more of your story than a one-page resume does, and networking through the site can present opportunities you wouldn't know about otherwise.
To help yourself stand out, follow and interact with companies you want to work for on LinkedIn and other social media sites. Remember, however, that if your profiles aren't complete, up to date and engaging, your efforts could have a negative impact.
Part of standing out also involves standing on your own two feet. Luckily, there are a ton of apps that recent grads can use to make the transition from the classroom to the job market even easier. Take advantage of them.
Continue with college to stay competitive
Even though the job market is rebounding from 2008, some students are choosing to stay in school and pursue a Master's degree. This trend is particularly evident for graduates seeking jobs in business and tech, where competition is high. In these industries and beyond, a candidate's level of education is increasingly used as a quick screening device, with Master's degrees given more value than undergraduate degrees.
The good news? You don't have to choose between continuing your education and competing in the job market. Whether you earned your undergrad degree at a traditional brick and mortar school or not, online universities like Ashford today allow you to pursue a Master's degree and work at the same time.
Pursuing a Master's online after receiving your undergraduate degree might well be the best of both worlds. You can continue to build your skill set and increase your appeal to potential employers, while putting your current degree to good use.
Whichever path you choose after graduation – your current employer, a new company, or continuing your education – your "freshman year of life" will almost certainly be a time of great change. Whatever struggles you face, remember that your degree gives you many more places to go than you had before. Now, it's up to you to decide which path to take.
Written by Ashford University staff