August 2023 Update: Johnson & Wales University enjoyed an incredibly fruitful 5-year partnership as the Official Education Partner of TD Garden and the Boston Bruins. This partnership officially ended in June 2023.
When you approach the last semester of college education, the possibilities for life after graduation may appear seemingly endless. You may be struck with a whirlwind of emotions, feeling excited and eager to start your life anew but also anxious and apprehensive about leaving the familiar comforts of student life behind. You can explore many different paths after graduation, from pursuing your first position in a career path aligned with your major, starting your own business, going back to school to pursue a new graduate degree, or traveling the world. Regardless of what you decide, remember that life after graduation is an exciting and important time in your life, one that should be filled with adventure and meaningful experiences. So, embrace this transition period with open arms and look forward to all the wonderful things that await you!
1. Find an Internship
An internship can help you determine if the career you’ve chosen is right for you. It can also introduce you to valuable contacts who can help you succeed as you develop and grow in your career. While some internships are unpaid and for college credit, they provide you with real-world experience to include on your resume and discuss during future job interviews. Sometimes, an internship employer may offer a graduating student a full-time position. If you’re interested in full-time employment with your internship employer, connect with your supervisor to discuss potential opportunities upon graduation.
Additional benefits of an internship include helping you gain confidence in your ability to apply the knowledge you learned in college to the real world, exploring opportunities and other areas in your chosen field within different organizations, and helping you gain valuable experience to apply to your first role — easing your transition after graduation.
At the JWU College of Professional Studies, our Career Services office can help match you with an internship related to your major and your prospective career. More than 2,000 of our students complete an internship each year universitywide. With our focus on experiential education and preparing our students with the skills and experience employers are looking for, 95.4% of students have a successful career outcome within six months of graduating. For an explanation of the career outcomes rate and other information, visit JWU Student Consumer Information. Our powerful industry partnerships — like our TD Garden and Boston Bruins educational partnership — connect our students with real clients to produce impactful work. After graduation, our students work for Marriott, Hyatt, Disney, Bank of America, CVS Health, and many other organizations.
2. Go to Graduate School
There’s no rule that says you have to go out and immediately get a job. Continuing your studies to earn an advanced graduate degree might just be the best option for you, especially if you are looking to enter a very competitive field.
Johnson & Wales University offers graduate degrees in many different areas through its various academic colleges. Online degree programs are available through the College of Professional Studies, as well as those on our Providence, RI, and Charlotte, NC, campuses.
3. Make a Plan for Your Student Loans
Shortly after graduation, you’ll start making student loan payments if you took out loans to help pay for your education. The US government makes a number of repayment plans available to graduates based on their post-graduation income. Visit studentaid.gov to choose a plan that works best for you. Ignoring this obligation will not only hurt your credit, but you’ll incur penalties and additional interest charges.
4. Learn to Budget
One of the most important skills you’ll need post-graduation is understanding how to create and live within a budget. Ideally, you carefully reviewed your financial requirements while selecting your career path, and understood the expected salary for an entry-level position.. How you handle your personal finances now will either set you up for success or hinder your financial independence for years or decades to come. Your personal financial plan should include adding funds to your savings account each month as well as accounting for the unglamorous expenses like renter’s insurance, car insurance, car registration fees, among others.
5. Develop Your Resume
Your resume is the first impression prospective employers get of you. Make sure it’s a good, well-written, and professional one that reflects your personality, your education, and your relevant experience. Without a stellar resume, your application is unlikely to get noticed amidst the sea of other applications.
Your university’s placement or career office should offer classes on resume writing or be able to critique your document. At Johnson & Wales University, we offer workshops to help students start building a resume that grabs a potential employer’s attention. We also offer help with professional interviewing and career skills. All college grads need an impressive resume.
6. Attend Networking Events
Networking events can be a great place to find leads on job opportunities in your field. Find networking events on bulletin boards, via meetup.com or eventbrite.com, and on social media sites like LinkedIn. In addition to helping you find a job, networking events can expose you to people and ideas in your chosen field, help you keep current with new developments in your field, and help build your professional confidence.
7. Go to Career Fairs
Career fairs can be invaluable to recent college graduates because they allow you to interact with multiple companies looking to hire all in one location. Look for career fairs near you on your university’s placement office bulletin board, online, and on networking sites like LinkedIn. Not all career fairs are in-person events. CNBC reports that ‘career experts claim 80% of recruiting will be virtual for the foreseeable future.’ Virtual career fairs allow you to connect with multiple employers right from your own home. (Make sure to look professional, though.)
8. Clean Up Social Media Profiles
Prospective employers may scan an applicant’s social media profiles as they look for the right individual for the job. Do your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles reflect the image you want to present to employers? Are your spring break photos still posted? What about those questionable memes? Ideally, you’ve been cautious all along about what you share on social media. However, now is the time to review your channels.
In addition, if you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create one. More and more employers use this networking social media site to post job openings and look for people who would be a good fit for their company.
9. Find a Mentor
A mentor is someone with experience in your chosen field who is willing to guide you along your career path. Such a person can be invaluable and help you avoid common ‘rookie’ mistakes in your field, as well as introduce you to people in your industry that may be beneficial to you in the future. Mentors might be a former professor, a friend of your parents or older sibling, or someone you met on your job or at a networking event. Having a strong mentor can make a huge difference in your career trajectory.
10. Start Your Job Search
One of the first things you’ll want to do in preparing for graduation is begin your job search. Especially as student loan payments are looming, you’ll want to start early. Your university’s placement office can help you get started. Most universities host HR representatives from different companies to help connect soon-to-be graduates with an entry-level position. At JWU, we network with more than 1,100 employers and facilitate more than 2,500 on-campus interviews each year.
Earning Your Graduate Degree at Johnson & Wales University
Johnson & Wales University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in more than 80 fields of study universitywide. Classes are available at the university’s Providence, RI, and Charlotte, NC, campuses as well as online through the College of Professional Studies. Online degree programs offer students the advantage of being able to complete classwork and listen to lectures on their own schedule.
Johnson & Wales University was founded in 1914 and has more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate, and online students. The university is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Financial aid is available for qualified students.
Learn more about earning your graduate degree from Johnson & Wales University. For more information about completing your degree online or on-campus, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].