I Graduated. What Happens Now?

by Kristy Amburgey

College GraduatesStudents often use graduation as a time to reflect on what they have accomplished up to this point in time.  Hopefully, you studied hard, learned how to approach a challenge, developed some great connections and picked up a few professional skills along the way.

Now that you have your diploma in hand and have a renewed sense of self, the thought, “What happens now?” may cross your mind.  Luckily there are multiple career, educational and growth opportunities that you can pursue post-graduation.  Here are several of those options.

Head to Work: a number of students already have employment plans by the time they graduate, and they are ready to go straight into the workforce

  • Tip: ensure you are ready to transition into the world of work by brushing up on professionalism, company expectations and general business etiquette

Search for a Job: students often find themselves still needing to secure employment by the time they graduate

  • Tip: if you are one of these folks, you need to get ready for this full-time endeavor…the job search; networking, connecting to opportunities and applying for jobs are all part of this post-graduation pursuit along with the many other actions you should take to secure your future

Transition Your Career: there are some students who already have a career in place, and they now want to apply their previous experiences and newly minted education to a new field of work

  • Tip: get ready to take on this new career search much the same way you would approach any job search but focus on how you can translate your previous experiences to relate to your new potential job 

Take the Next Step: several students will have well-established careers but are ready to move into more senior roles

  • Tip: leverage your degree to earn a promotion or take on new responsibilities; market your new skills and degree accomplishment to help establish yourself as an expert in your field

Go to Grad School: a number of students have plans to go to graduate school to further enhance their education or to broaden their skill sets

  • Tip: planning for grad school can involve the selection of a degree program that will make you more marketable in your field, the selection of a school that offers your degree and the planning for the application process; get ready for all of these tasks early in your final year of undergraduate education

Take a Gap Year: some students will choose to take a year off between their undergraduate and graduate education or before they head to work for a variety of reasons

  • Tip: prepare financially to have this year off to do a variety of things like earning more certifications/ratings, research, service, volunteering, traveling abroad, etc.

Take on Civic Service: a student with a gap year or one who is ready to take on the non-profit world may want to consider civic service

  • Tip: you can volunteer or work for a civic organization, which can include non-profits, government groups, teaching, and other well-known entities like the Peace Corps; just like with a job search in the corporate world, get ready to network and pursue opportunities, but it is even more important to communicate your socially-conscious passions and convictions

Many of the choices you make will be impacted by your financial needs and personal expectations.  Select the path that you most want to pursue but will still support your future goals.  If you find yourself unsure of the next step, take advantage of the resources provided to you by Career Services and via the Going Places blog for information and guidance on many of these topics.  Instead of thinking, “Ummm, now what,” you can think, “Yes!  I am ready to jump into my post-graduation plans.”

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

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