“What are you going to do after you graduate?” That’s the question everyone hates hearing in their final year of university or college. And it’s the one they get most often, especially right after graduation.
It’s summertime; you probably just want to kick back and relax. And that’s fine (for a bit). You finally have a break after two to four years spent studying, taking on extra-curricular activities and perhaps even a part time job. If you’re lucky, you completed an internship or two, went on exchange or got volunteer experience either on or off campus.
But why should that dreaded question be a daunting one? Sure, there are plenty of uncertainties around this time of year and the post grad world isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard to navigate.
If you didn’t land a cushy job right after school, there’s no need to stress. Instead, there are plenty of ways to stay sharp even in the dog days of summer. So when the time comes to get serious about job applications, you won’t have gaping holes in your resume—you can’t put Netflix binger in your list of special skills.
Get to know people in your industry
You probably already know about the importance of networking—it’s likely been drilled into your head since you finished high school. But Facebooking in real life doesn’t have to be awkward. Instead of attending a boring networking event, pinpoint specific individuals in your industry and shoot them an email asking them out for coffee. The worst thing they can say is no (or just never reply to your note). But you’ll never know unless you try.
And you don’t need to reach out to an executive or director. Perhaps you’re interested in HR and you know someone who now has a sweet job at KPMG. Message her and ask how she got her position to gain insight about your chosen career path.
Stop thinking about a career path
Most young people don’t stick to a linear career path. Like Robert Frost, many take the road less traveled. As the Atlantic reported last year, many millennials expect to work for numerous employers throughout their professional lives. “You work for some years at something, but it’s really just a job. In two to five years you end up moving on,” said 30-year-old George Dimoulas to the monthly magazine.
And according to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, about two thirds of young Canadians expect to leave their current employer within five years. So if you’re not where you want to be right away, don’t panic; it’s perfectly normal. Try to start thinking of each role you take on as a stepping-stone.
Perhaps you’re working as a barista this summer, but you want to get into marketing. While at your local coffee shop, you’re not only gaining valuable customer service skills, but you’re also learning about the food and beverage industry. And why not see if you can expand your position by helping out with the café’s social media, visual displays and new product launches—all relevant to a career in marketing.
Learn a new skill
According to your resume, you’re proficient in HTML and have basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop—knowing that the program exists doesn’t count. Why not take the summer to beef up your special skills section? There are plenty of courses you can take, from the very affordable and gender neutral Ladies Learning Code, which operates across Canada, to the online education site Lynda.com.
Or, maybe you had a job interview and didn’t make the cut. Get feedback and take the summer to work on yourself and improve for next time. Don’t be afraid to try some mock interview if you need to boost your confidence.
Your first few months after graduation are undoubtedly scary, but they’re also an opportunity for you to really think about your next move and strategize about how to make it happen.
Written by Amy Grief