Vicky Oliver is the author of five best selling career development books. She shares with me some useful tips for college students, graduates and young professionals on navigating life after graduation.
What is the best and worst thing a college student can do before they graduate college?
I think it is dangerous if all you do is study, if you really want a job after graduation. You are only demonstrating that you know how to study. I presume if you want to go to grad school after, that would be an OK strategy. Generally it is better to do something else, like working on your school paper, get involve in school politics, and it shows a level of business expertise. There are tons of things you can do such as joining different committees. You want to join with an eye to see how you can position it later for your benefit. You can’t be everything to everyone. Follow your passions and your strengths to direct you to what you are going to do. You don’t want to be OK at everything you want to be spectacular at a couple of things.
Is it best for graduates to get into their career or go back to school?
If you absolutely know that you will get a graduate degree, I think that is a good path to take. But if you are unsure it is OK to take a few years off. In some cases, if there are several career paths that you are thinking about and some require a graduate degree first, you may want to get your feet wet working for a couple of years. It really is an individual decision. Do not let the economy dictate your career path; you need to dictate your career path via the economy.
We hear regularly the market is bad and it is competitive and student loans are knocking at graduate’s doors. Is there hope for recent college graduates in finding a job?
Yes. You also really have to believe you are that exceptional person, be optimistic. Optimists are hired more often than pessimist and their sunny personalities can help them get the job. You have to operate from a place of hope and not fear. You may need to make a few lateral steps to get where you need to be in your career. If you stay positive you will get there faster.
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