Tomorrow, January 5, kicks off a new semester at Grand Valley State University for our members. For some, it will be one of many chilly Winter semesters they brave through during their Laker experience. But for others, it’s the final one of their college career. No matter where you are on this path, December graduate Stephanie Kotschevar gives excellent insight into the intimidating ‘grown up’ world after college. Read on for her story and her advice to members of our chapter for the future.

           It’s almost been a month since I graduated from Grand Valley. I don’t believe that it has hit me yet that I am finally done with college because it still feels like I’m on winter vacation and will return to classes in January. But in reality I will be entering the “real world” and starting my first “big girl job” instead. While I’m sad to leave one adventure in my life behind, I’m excited to be done with the craziness that is college.

            Your last semester of college is definitely a stressful one. There is a lot of pressure to find a job before graduation while also finishing up classes and juggling every other extra curricular activity as well. Luckily for me, my networking and hard work paid off. Here are some tips that helped me get my first job out of college.

            Do what’s expected and more: There are thousands of students getting ready to graduate at the same time as you. This means that the competition for jobs will be fierce. Making sure you (and your resume) stand out is important. Get involved in everything you can before graduation. I know when I was interviewing I was constantly asked, “How do you juggle all of this?” This is better than being asked, “So, what else did you do?”

            Have a mentor: Professors are a great resource. They are there because they want to see you succeed, so why not start your professional network with your professors? I was lucky enough to build a relationship with a professor who really wanted to help me. I feel this is true for many professors. However, with so many students it’s important for you to reach out to them. You can ask them about their work in the field and how they managed once they graduated. Professors are there for more than just grading our papers, just reach out.

            It’s never too early to start applying: I started applying for jobs in September. Even though most people would say this was too early I was able to get a lot of interview practice in and get my name out there. I repeatedly heard that the company wasn’t sure what jobs would be available in December, but I was also told to follow up because they were interested. Interviewing is also an art. It isn’t something everyone is comfortable with or good at, but if you think of every interview as practice eventually it will pay off.

            I’m really grateful to all of the people that helped me land my first job right out of college and I know it’s possible for others to do this too. However, I want to make a side note and say that even some of the greatest and smartest people don’t land their dream jobs out of college. Just don’t give up.

I wish you all the best of luck! 

– Stephanie Kotschevar
@Skotschevar on Twitter