As students prepare for college graduation, there is a mix of excitement, the pride of achievement, and usually some trepidation about the future as they think about what is next in their life. Embarking on a career that enables fresh graduates to earn a living and become self-sufficient is an exciting step, but also one that can be filled with uncertainty and doubt. Although sixteen years of schooling at all levels may have filled their minds with all the academic knowledge needed for success, there are a lot of other intangibles that go into a successful career in the professional environment. These are some important career tips for young adults who are preparing to join the professional ranks in their field of study or maybe in the beginning years of their careers.
Prepare yourself and your resume
It all begins with preparation. Most people in any profession have the will to win and succeed, but the will to prepare yourself for success is harder to find and more impactful on their eventual success. Russell Wilson, the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, likes to say that “the separation is in the preparation”. I could not agree more and this does not just apply to sports, but indeed to any profession, one undertakes. The difference between OK and Good or Good and Great performance is in the quality and quantity of preparation. Just as homework in school years was key to being successful in the exams, so is the need to prepare for success in your job. To begin with, it is critical to document a strong resume that will attract potential employers and fully reflect the value that you can bring to them. I recommend leveraging the assistance from the career counseling center in your college and learning from best practices and proven templates to create your resume. FSU sometimes has resume workshops that provide helpful tips and suggestions to amplify your resume- ask your advisor when the next one is!
Create a LinkedIn
It is also critical to build and maintain a full profile on LinkedIn, which has become the de facto social network for the professional world. It is the marketplace where employers and job seekers can meet, get to know each other from their association with others and any public information authored by them. More importantly, LinkedIn is also the place where you can expand your professional network and grow your knowledge and multiply your opportunities through this network. Success in the modern professional world requires a strong and active LinkedIn profile and engagement. Don’t limit the LinkedIn profile to just a listing of your school records and any internship experiences. Instead, try to gather and post recommendations from respected professionals such as teachers or internship managers who can speak to your capabilities and your potential. Additionally, try to author some articles and posts on LinkedIn that can demonstrate your thought leadership and the breadth and depth of your approach to problem-solving. You can also connect with past professors and classmates on here, which will be useful in progressing your career. LinkedIn, when leveraged fully, can serve as the best advertisement of your full potential to interested employers.
Build a network
Networking is the key to success in your career, not only online, but also in the physical world. It is important when you join the professional ranks to actively invest in networking and seek out colleagues and managers across the company even if they are in jobs that you are not currently interested in. Networking with others is a great way to learn from others and also a great way to teach others about your work and your approach to solving problems. Your professors and classmates are great people to network with because it’s likely they’re all working or have worked in your field of interest. FSU Shadow is a program which allows you to follow someone working your dream career for a day or so, in order to have a grasp on the lifestyle and career. FSU Shadow is another great networking opportunity and will allow you to expand your knowledge in this field. Combining the learning from others with the sharing of your own knowledge with others is the best way to grow professionally, advance your career, and also maximize the impact on your organization’s success in the process.
Dress for the job you want
Have you heard the phrase “Dress for success”? My favorite version of it is the phrase “Dress for the career you want, not the job you have”. As a fresh college graduate, you want to clearly convey your ambition and aspirations through the way you dress. So, it is important to equip yourself with a nice wardrobe for the professional world including a right sized suit and dress shoes. Professional clothes can be expensive, but thankfully FSU has an on-campus Professional Clothing Closet. This resource has free professional clothes for FSU students. Simply make an appointment online, and go to the stadium for your free professional wardrobe! My recommendation is to err on the side of being more formal especially during the interview processes and your initial years at work. Not only does it convey a sense of the job and career progression you want, but it also grows your confidence in self and enables you to do your best work.
All of the preparation does not just involve soft skills such as dressing for success or building productive relationships, but it is also important to prepare in terms of learning the subject matter of your chosen profession. Unlike the school years, there are no exams in the work world, but instead, every activity and every day is an exercise in learning and in applying all your learnings. Being a perpetual student and remaining open to learning new content, new ways to do tasks, new responsibilities that come with each career step is absolutely critical to success in any profession. Businesses have a grow-or-die mindset in general, whether that growth is expressed in financial terms or in impact on their non-profit objectives. As an employee, one must adopt a similar mindset for their own knowledge and subject matter expertise – it must grow or it will fade and die. Invest in growing your subject matter knowledge whether it is through more training, learning from others, or learning on the job.