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I've Graduated from College. Now What?

Or, how to go about starting your career and not just finding another JOB.

How many recent graduates are dreading seeing the family during the summer because you know they will ask? You just know they will ask it - that horrible question, the one that is slightly better than hearing, "So, when are you gonna settle down and get married?"

"So, what you are going to do with your life after graduation?"


None of us ever want to hear that. Especially since you've finished 12 years of school, 4 years of college, and quite possibly another couple of years of grad school/law school/med school.

Most of you have even completed internships in your ideal industry. You don't want to think about a career. Not yet, at least. You just want one more summer off.

Anyways, it won't be so hard. You'll just go online, post your resume to any of the online resume banks, and let the offers start on in, right?

WRONG! That's how you would go about to find a JOB - "Just Over Broke." You know, as in "You'll earn enough money to remain Just Over Broke for the rest of your life."

You want a career. You wouldn't have wasted the time and money pursuing a degree (or degrees, as the case may be) if you didn't. And a person who wants a career needs to search differently, smarter than the average person.

How do you suppose most people go about searching out opportunities?

  • Online resume banks/sites (i.e. Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, Jobster.com)
  • Help Wanted ads from the Sunday newspaper

These will succeed in only one thing - finding a JOB.

I'm sure you are all thinking, "But, Mary, wait! Monster claims that millions of companies use their site!"

That's true; however, most of these "millions" of companies are employment agencies, or for that matter, anyone who will pony up the $6,000 +/- that Monster charges them to access resumes - YOUR resumes. And these people are looking to fill JOBS - not assist you in jumpstarting your career.

And, before anyone asks, I am not an employment agency. I'm an executive recruiter, and I'll discuss the differences in a bit.

So, how do you start searching for a career? Well, that's why I'm here (and in business), to help you learn to navigate the waters and find your ideal career, and to not settle for just another JOB.

Tip #1:

Raid Mom and Dad's address book, holiday card list, and Outlook file. Seriously. Go over these lists and make your own list of:

  • Executives
  • People who are currently working in your chosen field
  • People who are well-connected and always seem to be "in the know"

If you don't know these people personally, pester Mom or Dad for an introduction. Ask if you could call or email this person and use their name

("Hi, Mrs. Jones. My name is Jane Smith. You know my mother, Kate, from the Cleveland chapter of Dress for Success. My mother tells me that you are a Senior Manager at Deloitte. I'm finishing my Master's in Accounting, and I'm planning on sitting for the CPA exam within the next year...")

If you already know these people - Great! You're ready for the next step.

Email or call them to tell them that you finished your degree and would like a few minutes of their time. Suggest having coffee one morning before work. Keep it light and upbeat.

Use this meeting as an "informational" interview. Ask them how the market is affecting their fields. Do they see many openings at this time? How does their firm go about finding new employees?

Now is NOT the time to ask for a job. Make sure you give them all your personal contact information (if you have a business card, give them one - it looks professional.)

After the meeting, send them a handwritten thank you note. Trust me on this one. It makes a much bigger impression than an email. Plus, for whatever reason, people are less inclined to toss out a note right away, as opposed to hitting "delete" after reading an email.

And FOLLOW UP with them periodically. Maybe a quick phone call or email in a couple of months. You don't want to pester them, but you do want to keep them in the loop.

Part 2 - More Tips to find your ideal career.

Mary Stewart McGovern, President
Stewart McGovern Enterprises

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Mary Stewart McGovern

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