First of all, congratulations are in order!  After years of hard work, pushing yourself to your absolute limit, probably a fair number of tears, and more fun than you’ve ever had before, you finally have that college degree!  There’s a world of opportunities at your disposal and you just can’t wait to jump in head-first… except maybe not.  If you’re anything like me, your excitement about graduating from university was somewhat overshadowed by a sense of panic and fear – fear of the unknown, fear of failing.

I graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in psychology in December of 2018, absolutely terrified of what was to come.  I had heard stories from those around me about harrowing job searches that lasted months – even years – and then falling into a job that just either wasn’t quite right or wasn’t enough.  I wanted to get it right my first time around.  If you have little to no professional work experience, putting yourself out there to potential employers can be intimidating, to say the least.  But there are ways that you can quell your fears.  Here are ways that you can prepare yourself for entering the workforce and make yourself a more desirable candidate, from a recent graduate.

  • Build your resume.

Having a strong resume is a great way to get potential employers to notice you.  Even if you don’t have much professional experience, you can still build a strong resume.  Internships are both important and appealing, so make sure you include them in your resume (click here to read a blog post about the importance of a good internship from a former Magnet intern).  Volunteer work can also show that you’re well-rounded and care about your community.  And don’t forget to include your skills!  Your resume should convey your strengths and demonstrate what you’ve accomplished and what you’re capable of.

  • Be open to new opportunities.

Being open to new opportunities is so important, even after you’ve graduated from college.  Our lives seldom follow the exact path that we envision.  You may be absolutely set on one field and then come to find that it isn’t for you after getting some work experience.  You may find your passion in something that you had never even thought to try.  When I started college, I was set on clinical psychology and was absolutely certain that that’s what I wanted to do with my life.  But after taking classes and getting first-hand experience, I started to doubt my choice.  After doing research and speaking to those with more experience and knowledge than myself, I became interested in I/O psychology, and found that it was definitely the field for me.  Keep trying new things – don’t close yourself off from new experiences because of apprehension or doubt.  You never know which passions you may find.

  • Persistence is key.

You might not get the first job that you interview for.  You might not get the second job that you interview for.  But don’t let those rejections get you down!  Think of them as learning experiences – reflect on them and go into your future interviews even stronger.  Those rejections are just pushing you toward the job that was meant for you.

  • Be yourself.

I know, I know… “be yourself” sounds a little cheesy, but it really is important when on the hunt for work.  Being honest with both yourself and potential employers is one of the best things you can do.  Don’t be afraid to show off your skills and experiences, but don’t over-exaggerate or fabricate information about yourself.  It may help you to appeal more to potential employers in the moment, but it will probably come back to hurt you in the long run.  Be honest about your capabilities and let your personality shine – you’ll get that offer before you know it.

Graduating from college can be very intimidating.  You’re about to leave what you’ve known for the last four years and enter largely unfamiliar territory.  But instead of letting that uncertainty take over and keep you from moving forward, channel it to take control and walk into your future with your head held high.