You graduated! Now what? Career advice from professionals

Business people meeting around a table with their laptop computers

The last piece of confetti has settled, and you have hung your graduation cap tassel somewhere special. Professors and special guest speakers at your graduation ceremony wished you well, and inspired you to go forth and make your mark on the world. But now what? As you look forward to your first job, or perhaps, have already started your career, we thought you might benefit from career advice by professionals who can help you take those next steps.

 

Jodi Glickman, Author, Founder of Leadership Development and Communication Training Firm Great on the Job

No one cares more about managing your career than you do!

Congratulations graduates, you did it! You earned that degree and donned that cap and gown. Now watch out world, here you come.

There’s no playbook for life after college. Heck, there aren’t even goal posts here. Should you take that great job with Google or strike out on your own? Is working for a super cool new technology start-up (read: loads of options, zero cash) the right first move, or should you go the more traditional route and get some “real” experience with an established company or brand?

The truth, of course, is that there’s no right answer. The only thing that is 100% certain is that you are in charge of your career — no one else is. You can make greatness happen, but it’s your responsibility to go out there and be great. Don’t rely on anyone else to hand you a golden opportunity, step up to the plate and offer to mentor you, or give you that much-needed feedback no one else is willing to share.

You have to take charge. Ask for the opportunities you want (“hey Dan, I’ve heard great things about Zelda and Juan, please let me know if there’s an opportunity to work with either of them or their teams). Go out and find mentors — ask people for advice and feedback on your plans — but don’t use the word “mentor” it scares people away (“Louisa, I’d love to sit down and learn more about your decision to leave digital marketing and go into e-commerce — can I buy you lunch?” And finally, don’t wait for feedback to find its way back to you — go out and ask for it. (“Will, I’m looking forward to working together on the product launch next month, would you be willing to give me some feedback on how things go as we work together?).

No one cares more about managing your career than you do, so make sure you are stepping up to the plate and building relationships, asking for meaningful opportunities and learning from your mistakes.

 

Elsa Powel Strong, Product Design Manager, The Ariel Group

School may be over, but remember this: never stop learning. Truly successful people are those who consider themselves lifelong learners. The ones who leverage their strengths and are aware of their challenges. Those who continue to push themselves outside of their comfort zone.

Learn from your coworkers. Absorb their knowledge. Ask insightful questions.

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason — we should be listening more than we speak. You’re coming out of school with a lot of information. Now is the time to listen and adapt your skills accordingly.

Keep in mind that no matter what role you have, you always have an audience. Think about what they need from you. What’s in it for your co-workers? What does leadership need to hear in this update?

And it’s not just about the words you say. Think about how you want people to feel about what you have to say. Do you want to excite them? Warn them? Calm them? This intention, or passionate purpose, can make all the difference in HOW you communicate so that the WHAT has the impact you want it to.

With this in mind, take a breath, relax your shoulders and share from the heart.