As a rising college senior with the adult world looming ahead ominously, I decided to pick up a book chock full of advice for making that transition. Lindsey Pollak is an expert at offering career advice and has condensed years of her experience into one helpful guide: Getting From College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World. Those 90 things range the gamut from career advice, to personal advice, to little tips and tidbits that will apply to some people and feel foreign to others. If you’re stressing about getting to adulthood successfully, this is the book for you. No one has it figured out perfectly, but this book will help you feel a little more prepared. Here are eight of the most important and pertinent lessons to learn from Pollak’s book.
Embrace your stereotype
You are not the first college graduate to ever look for a job. People will lump you into a category when you tell them you’re fresh out of university and looking for employment. Take advantage of that. Ask for free advice. Ask for recommendations and for people to look over your resume. Go to seminars and lectures and career fairs and be the bubbly post-grad you are.
Clean up your internet image
It’s time to face the facts. People are going to search you on the Internet. You want what they find to be flattering and make them want to hire you more, not less. Look at your social media pages, including ones that you think are private, and make a judgement call. Pictures of you at a gala with a wine glass? Probably okay, if you’re over 21. Pictures of you doing a keg stand at a party, no matter your age? Best to delete it. Untag yourself from unflattering pictures and posts. Sometimes friends mean well, but those Facebook posts from 2009 don’t always age well. Check out our social media tips here.
Everyone talks about finding a mentor, but many times, those mentors start out as heroes that we worship from a far and work our way closer to. Find that hero that you can admire and aspire to be like, not an exact copy of. Learn from them, their highs and their lows, and make contact with them to let them know that you would like to learn from them. Few people will tell a nice, police, aspiring post-grad that they don’t have time for coffee or a phone conversation.
Be able to introduce yourself
“Tell me about yourself” is going to be the most popular command you hear in your life, probably. You know it’s coming, so how could you not be prepared for it? You could tell your life story, sure, but people are expecting a few sentences. Tell them who you are, tell them what you’re good at, tell them what sets you apart from not only other applicants but other people in general, and practice doing just that. Practice on a friendly audience and make a cheat sheet on a note card.
Be an active alumnus
No matter where you went to college, your fellow students are in the same boat as you. Past alumni are already succeeding in many different career fields. Become an active alumnus as soon as possible, even before you graduate, and you’ll be able to reap the rewards of your education in an innovative way. Reach out to other alumni in your area, especially young alumni in your field. Join your alumni association, attend reunions and meet ups. If your area has a club, like the Yale Club in New York, become a member. It’ll pay off with networking opportunities and a group of friends who understand your place in life.
Take a physical challenge
Challenging your mind can only do so much good if you don’t also challenge your body. As Pollak points out, some of the country’s most successful people take serious time to stay in physical good health. Exercise will keep you physically fit and help you cope with stress. Endorphins, remember? Plus, if you do group exercise classes or start walking and running in your neighborhood, you’ll no doubt make some new friends in the process.
Dress the part
As independent women in 2017, we want to claim that we can dress however we please and still get the job if we’re qualified, but that’s simply not that case. There are protocols for office and business attire and you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. Some of Pollak’s pieces of advice include: buy a dark suit, you can’t go wrong with black, the less skin the better, and accessorize cautiously. As a reminder in this increasingly casual world, mid-drift is never acceptable in an office environment. It’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed.
Be nice to receiptionists
Even if you’re interviewing with the CEO to be the next CEO, and even if you have had the worst morning ever, don’t be rude to the receptionist. It’s not good karma, and they will likely rat out your bad attitude. Receptionists play critical roles in every office and befriending them, even during your interview, will pay off in the long run.
To learn more about how you can successfully go from campus to career, pick up your copy of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World here.