Making the move from college to your post-graduation life is one of the most exciting things you will ever do. You have your whole life before you and a world of possibilities.
But that dream of possibility doesn’t always pan out. Recent graduates frequently face challenges when making the transition from student life to the career world. Few people are able to land their perfect jobs effortlessly.
Here are some of the common challenges you may face as a new grad, as well as some tips on how to overcome them:
1. No ‘Real World’ Experience
Many employers prefer candidates with a little experience in their industry. Even though you have graduated with a degree and presumably know a lot about your industry, real-world job experience will make you more marketable.
To gain some real-world experience, you should try to find an internship during your junior or senior year of college. If it’s too late to get the internship, reach out to your professors to see if they know of any companies looking for recent graduates.
2. Unrealistic Expectations
You have a degree. That’s wonderful! But so do most of the other candidates. You don’t have experience in the field, you probably don’t have many connections, and you likely don’t have a lot of other experience that’s applicable to your job search. It’s not realistic to imagine that you’ll land your dream job right out of college or be running a company in three years. These things do, occasionally, happen – but they are the exception, not the rule.
Recognize that you’ll have to pay your dues before you can land an elevated position within an organization.
3. Unsure How to Negotiate Salary and Benefits
You might have been told that the salary you make directly out of college contributes greatly to your lifetime earning potential. This is because most of your raises from that point forward will be based on your current salary. The higher your starting salary, the better each subsequent raise will be.
Unfortunately, most college graduates have no idea how to properly negotiate their salaries. They might be afraid they won’t get the job if they ask for more money. The reality is that most employers expect you to negotiate. They frequently offer lower than they expect to pay so they have some wiggle room for negotiating. If you don’t ask for more money than they offer, you’re intentionally accepting less than they think the position is worth. So, take some time to brush up on your negotiating skills. Your future self will thank you.
4. Poor Interview Skills
Unfortunately, this is another area that college frequently does not prepare you for. Many students graduate believing that if they have the degree, the skills, and the drive, they’ll get a great job. The reality is that your interview is tremendously important. From the time you walk into the room until the time you send (or neglect to send) a thank-you card, you are being judged. One wrong answer could mean missing out on a great opportunity.
It’s a good idea to practice interviewing well before you graduate. Some colleges offer interview coaching, but you could also work with a friend or teacher. And before your interview, do some research. Be prepared to talk about the company and why you would fit in there.
You may be reluctant to relocate for a job, but as a recent graduate, you can’t afford to be choosy. Depending on your degree and your area of interest, there might not be many positions for the career you want in your home state. It’s also possible that an employer in another state will offer a better salary or more opportunities for career development. You should seriously consider relocating if a great job offer comes your way.
6. Lack of Direction
Recent college graduates are frequently confused about their life’s paths. You might be torn between starting your career and pursuing further education. You might want to travel before you get a job. Or maybe you really want to get to work, but you just don’t know what you want to do.
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution for this problem. Everyone’s journey is different. Eventually, things will start to become clearer. In the meantime, try new things, join clubs or organizations, meet new people, look for popular professions among previous graduates, and search for new jobs constantly. Eventually, something will click.
Graduating from college is a huge accomplishment! But as with any life transition, it comes with its share of challenges. These are some of the most common challenges faced by college grads. Are there any others you would add to the list? Have you experienced any of these challenges? How did you handle them? Leave a comment below!