Moving from college to the workplace traditionally requires major adjustments, including acquiring new skills on the job and learning to balance independent projects. Right now, economic and public health uncertainty only adds to the stress on college graduates. But stepping back, slowing down and taking concrete steps can help mitigate anxieties and improve your outlook. Here are ways to help navigate the unchartered waters.
Build a mentor relationship
In college, students can easily stop by a professor’s office hours or book an appointment with your academic advisor or job counselor. The same principles of mentorship are just as important to getting started in the workplace. After you graduate, you have to be more proactive about securing your own mentor. Having a mentor will enable you to learn what employers expect from new grads and you can use the information to make yourself job ready, and also help find new opportunities in sectors that are hiring.
Take a skills inventory
Does your resume reflect all that you are capable of accomplishing? Make sure that you reflect not just your major and hard skills, but also soft skills like learnability that shows you can make adjustments during turbulent periods. Research from ManpowerGroup has concluded that 65% of the jobs Generation Z will perform do not even exist yet, and right now is certainly a time of disruption and change. Show how your past has prepared you for a future that is evolving and being invented in front of us.
Be open to new forms of work
Look beyond the full-time permanent roles. In some sectors, hiring is ramping up right now for temporary or short-term work. Taking a temporary job to help meet demand may provide an in to a company, or an end in itself. Today, nearly 9 in 10 workers are open to NextGen work– part-time, contingent, contract, freelance or temporary. As younger workers bring tech-savvy skills to the workplace, new graduates can turn to flexible employment opportunities where it is needed most.
Reach out to help others
Right now, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision with respect to your own needs. No one will blame you for that. But many others are going through the same uncertainty, and seeking ways to help is not a zero-sum game. Over time, how you treat others builds a reputation. Recognizing others need assistance, offering to be of service through small acts like proofing someone else’s resume or sending an email with encouragement will become an extension of your resume. Do it for its own reward, and it’s likely to help deepen and expand your network as well.
After years of being in the school system, it will take new grads time to transition to a new world –– and that’s never been true more than now. For college graduates, it’s important to be patient, keep being productive where you can be, and keep the faith.