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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

To the Class of 2012

Graduation season is upon us. Across the country the class of 2012 is scrambling to study for their last round of finals (at least for this degree). For those preparing to enter the workforce, the trepidation is growing, as according to reports, a large number of graduates have yet to find work. I thought I might compile a list of some tips for upcoming graduates based on my personal experience over the past few years since my own graduation. Add any more you can think of to the comments!

1)      Network, network, network. This you should be doing both on and off line. The expression ‘the most important thing is who you know’ is incredibly true. I have seen it in my own life and in the lives of those around me. Reach out to everyone you know and let them know you are looking for work and the skills you have. Get involved in social media and meet people that way. You never know who will have the key to your next job.

2)      Clean up your online presence. In the world of social media potential employers are googling candidates with increasing frequency. Even if you are de-tagged in a picture, it is still out there for people to find. Try to track down and erase anything that makes you appear to be a less-than-responsible person, and an undesirable candidate.

3)      Have a wardrobe of professional clothes. It does not matter what profession you are going into, you will need clothes for occasions like interviews, work parties/dinners/lunches/meetings, networking events, and so on. Your jeans and sweatshirt have served you well, but now you need to update.

4)      Learn how to speak grammatically correct. It does not matter if you have a PhD, walking into an interview speaking slang will make you sound unprofessional, unprepared, and unable to handle the corporate world. If you did not have much practice before, start reading. I am not referring to reading Yahoo news and Sports Illustrated, I mean classic literature, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist. Read slowly and carefully, taking note of new vocabulary. Yes, it may seem like English class all over again, but trust me, the improvement in your speaking and writing skills will benefit you tremendously in the long run.

5)      Budget wisely. Even if you are fortunate to be graduating without an enormous student debt, suddenly being 100% responsible for your own housing, food, utilities (no university housing/cafeteria anymore), and transportation can be a bit of a slap in the face. Think about what you really need and don’t need. Cable? Smart phone with data plan? Car (if there is mass transportation)? Should you get roommates? While you are at it, learn to cook. It will save you money and save your waistline.

Good luck to the class of 2012. The past several years have not been kind to graduates, but here’s to hoping it will turn around one of these years…

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