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Q&A with UOPX Career Services

College graduates often feel immense pride upon completing their degree and earning a diploma. But many are unsure of how to find a job after they’ve graduated.

Haley Foutch, senior manager of mentorship & networking programs, and Alice Rush, certified career counselor, work in the University’s Department of Career Services and often help provide students with guidance on how to prepare for the transition from being a student to an employee.

Foutch and Rush shared their insights on next steps for college grads who are looking to promote themselves.

How should a graduate who is currently an employee promote their new degree at work in hopes of potential career enhancement?

Foutch: It’s important to demonstrate the difference their education has made. Graduates should consider how their new degree can add to their individual and team performance. As students gain skills and knowledge in school, they should put those to use in the workplace and prove their value to make themselves indispensable.

Rush: Once a student finishes his or her degree, it’s really up to the student to schedule a face-to-face meeting with their manager and initiate a professional development coaching session with their boss.

Graduates should consider asking their boss for their opinion on any additional skill or experience gaps necessary to move into the next role. Next, schedule an appointment with human resources (HR) to ask them for a current position description of the skills experience and education needed for the new role.

If a recent graduate wants to change jobs because of their new earned degree and skills, how can they best do that?

Foutch: Recent graduates may still feel uncertainty regarding their career paths, so the first thing to do is gain clarity regarding short and long-term goals and what is needed to reach them. Once they have some specific jobs and/or companies in mind, add education and newly gained skills to resumes, LinkedIn and other branding vehicles.

This is part of building a personal brand, which also includes an elevator pitch and the way they describe themselves professionally. Additionally, graduates need to reach out to their networks to update them on what’s new and how they want to put their education to use.

Rush: The most central resource for making an external job change is through using the professional association related to the new career goal. Seek out opportunities to serve on the board of directors for greater visibility and to launch a new professional network quickly. Consider joining their mentoring program and job club, and request a directory of members to help set up informational interviews with members who worked in the organizations they want to work for.