Preparing to Graduate: Your Final Semester of College

I spent a good part of today panicking about how fast graduation is approaching! It’s February and I graduate college at the end of April?! It’s officially time to get serious about job hunting and last-minute resume building. There are a number of things you can do to help prepare for the “real world” waiting at the end of graduation! Here are some importnat things to do while you are preparing to graduate from college!

preparing to graduate

Create a Plan

I know it’s easier said than done, but preparing to graduate means preparing a plan. What are you going to do after you get your diploma? Do you want to spend the summer interning at home? Do you want to take time off to travel? What about grad school? These are all things that are worth thinking about BEFORE graduation. Taking a few career aptitude tests (like this one by the Princeton Review!) might help you begin your job search if you are having a hard time pinning down your interests.

If you’re completely stumped on what to do next, I would recommend looking into different internships in your field! Internships are a great way to get a few months of experience under your belt without a lot of commitment. Most internships last only a few months, so they help you get your foot in the door without being tied down to a job you might not like. Here’s a post on how to find and land a killer internship! This internship search engine by Chegg is also a great resource for finding positions near you!

Resume Building

I have been working on my professional resume for weeks now! It can be hard to get started, and it can be confusing to figure out what is worth including. Here’s a post on how to create your own professional resume! Remember, this resume should focus on the experience that is relevant to your career goals. That means your job bagging groceries over the summer probably isn’t going to help much. You should include any awards, internships, volunteer, or leadership experience that pertains to your professional experience!

Preparing to graduate

Don’t forget about your virtual resume! In this digital age, online portfolios, social media profiles, and blogs are becoming more and more relevant to job search! This is especially important if you are looking into a career in design, publishing, or marketing. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for networking and finding new job opportunities. Your LinkedIn profile can help you be discovered by future employers and it shouldn’t be overlooked! For some tips on setting up your own profile on LinkedIn, check out this post.

If you’re interested in creating an online portfolio or blog to showcase your skills, I have a whole separate post which details my step-by-step process to successfully creating and maintaining your own blog. 

Meet with Career Services

After having more than a few panic attacks, I decided it was time to speak with a professional. All colleges and universities are equipped with a career services office to help students prepare to join the workforce. These are excellent resources, and they are not to be overlooked! If you’re unsure about how to start your job search, or you have questions about your resume, definitely set up an appointment with a counselor! I have been making weekly meetings to go over my resume and cover letter! It’s been so helpful to look at other student’s templates and to speak with someone who can answer all my questions. They’re also just really helpful in assuring you that you will, in fact, get a job, and you’re not doomed to be homeless.

Your professors might also be valuable resources! For instance, if you’re looking to go into a career in journalism, it might be useful to speak with a journalism professor about their experience in the industry. They might also be able to reach out to other graduates and colleagues in the industry that might serve as great networking opportunities! Your college might also have a vast alumni network of graduates to help you get started at different companies! Always say yes to alumni and networking events on campus!

Preparing to graduate

Leaving college can be daunting! It’s no secret that the job market is competitive and difficult to navigate nowadays. Working on cover letters and resumes while balancing coursework can feel exhausting. Other students might seem to have it all together, and this only adds to the overwhelmingness of preparing to graduate. Remember to take a breath and enjoy your final semester of college! You’re going to get a job, I promise! This is a big step, and it’s normal to be a little freaked out!

How are you preparing to graduate?