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After graduation, you have degree in hand, internships under your belt, and you’re ready to conquer the world in a full-time gig. Then, reality sets in. Beginning your career fresh out of college can bring on a slew of different emotions, from anticipation to excitement to utter fear.
Here are some tips from recent college graduates on their experiences in making the best first steps into the job market. Start on the right foot by taking heed to tips from young professionals who have actually been there and done that.
The homework doesn’t end: “Before entering the job market, I researched the field I wanted to go into. I kept myself up to date (and I continue to do so) with information about my company. I studied the office politics. Information is everything. It is a little time consuming, but it will help get you in there.”
—Quintin Haynes, 23, Associate Director of Finance, White House
Taking initiative is definitely OK: “Initiative is important, and I don’t think I was brave enough to take initiative when I first started working. Employers often appreciate that as long as you don’t step on their toes. Don’t be afraid to get to work early or stay at work late to get the job done. People will notice. Dress professionally and be yourself. Your appearance and attitude matter way more than you think.”
—Erica P. Loewe, 22, Events Coordinator, University of Florida President’s Office
Good communication skills are more than essential: “I’ve learned that communication is very important in the corporate world. You need to learn how to communicate and create working relationships with your managers and colleagues. I would advise not to get involved with office gossip. You never know who your next boss is going to be or who is going to hold your next job.”
—Jay W. Miller, 22, Human Resources Business Partner, Intel
Early bird still gets the best worms: “The steps that I took to ensure starting off on the right foot began as an undergrad. I chose classes that would help me with the career path I decided to take. I also looked for opportunities to get experience in my field. I was able to get an internship with the organization which hired me full time after I graduated.”
—Patrick J. Sharpe, 23, Financial Investigator
Always trust your gut and go with your passion: “Before I was assigned a full time position, I took a couple of substitute positions and it gave me some insight on what to do as a teacher. If I could have done anything differently it would have been to trust my gut and major in education in my undergraduate years. I always wanted to be a teacher but I got caught up in the different salary ranges. Always try to find a job that you’re passionate about and never give up on your dreams and aspirations.”
—Dwyana Garrett, 23, Teacher