The Dive Part I: Planning for Post-Graduation

You step up to that regalia-clad podium, with one hand you grasp your degree, with the other, the hand of the university president. The light shines in your eyes. This is your moment, and then….

You let go. You step off the stage, and nothing magically happens. You feel different, as if you have scaled a mountain, but now where do you go?

For so many college graduates, the fear is real. Their lives are changing, whether they are ready or not. Within a few months, most find a new place to live; leave friends; have no classes to fill their days; and then the student loans and bills become real.

However, most do not have a perfectly orchestrated plan as to how to make this transition. They stand at the edge of the diving board. They can not go back. Do they gracefully dive into the waters of the real world, or do they awkwardly fall into a place that looks a lot less like the dream they envisioned four or six years ago? It all comes down to planning, positioning, and pumps.

Planning for the Dive

Know what you want, and know what it takes to get it. Everyone has a dream job, but just like you most likely did with the college application process, you should have reach jobs, focus jobs, and safety jobs.

Reach jobs are the dream jobs. You are most likely not completely qualified for these jobs, but you think you can accomplish 75 percent of what the employer is asking for in the description.  These jobs are not always out of reach, and employment is a two-way street. Usually, employers do not want to pay as much as a person with 100 percent of the qualifications would cost them; so, taking a person who has 75% of the skills for a more entry-level rate might be appealing to some.

You must shine at the interviews, because if training you sounds like too much work, you may push them towards the other candidates. Be highly teachable and stress your willingness to grow with the company in these interviews. Out of all the jobs you apply to, reach jobs should make up about only 20 percent and should be highly targeted.

Next are your focus jobs. These jobs are exactly what someone with your skill-set should be applying for after college. They are usually tagged as entry level with 0-2 years of experience in your field of study. However, these are also the jobs that everyone graduating within your career field is applying for; so don’t get lazy with these applications. Put your best foot forward, and expect to compete for these jobs.

When looking at these jobs, understand the soft skills required as well as the knowledge-based skills. Assume most people have the degree and knowledge base required for these programs. Be able to shine in other parts of the posted job descriptions like teamwork, customer service, reliability, etc. This should account for the majority of the applications you send, at a minimum 60 percent.

Lastly, you have safety jobs. These are not something everyone will have in their equation. If a person had a fairly comfortable job in college and does not mind waiting for the other opportunities, then safety jobs do not have to come into the mix. However, if a person needs to pay for a new apartment without roommates, the student loans need tending quickly, or the person is just tired of waiting tables, these can be an important part of the equation.

These jobs are not just hostess or cashier jobs. Many people see safety jobs as an easy out, but they should also be targeted. These are jobs that you are usually overqualified for, and aren’t the best pay rate. You can make these a useful step in your journey. Applying for a receptionist job in your dream design company, is not without notice. Assume safety jobs are just that, a safe place to grow into your next opportunity. Think about companies that you would like to work for in the future in a different role. Think about jobs that give you exposure to your desired field.

Leaving college can be scary, but this opportunity can bring you so much closer to your dreams. We have all been at the edge of the diving board. Plan, close your eyes and be as graceful as your future allows. You have the skills to swim, you just haven’t had a chance to show them off until now.

Check back again later in May for the next two installations of this blog focusing on Positioning and Pumps!

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