The question on many students’ minds as they reach the end of their higher education is, “what’s next?” This is the start of your journey as a young professional and entrance into the workforce. While your first job will teach you about what you like and don’t like in a work environment, it is still important to find a company that values your work and nurtures your success. Finding the right fit as a recent or soon-to-be graduate can seem like a daunting task, especially in the era of COVID-19. As a recent graduate and new employee, I’m here to tell you that it is not as scary as it seems. Below is a guide to help you navigate the process of finding the right work fit and corporate culture.
Take advantage of any available programs, internships and networks that might give you a sense of what you are looking for in terms of your first post-grad job. Hands-on experience early in your search process will be incredibly beneficial and provide you with valuable knowledge that you can use when deciding for which positions to apply.
I knew from the start that I was interested in living and working in D.C. after graduation. As a Corvias Foundation scholar
, I pursued and participated in the organization’s Washington D.C. Co-Op program: An Introduction to How Our Government Works. My week in the city confirmed my interest and reinforced my desire to work there after graduation. Utilizing the resources and programs available to me through the foundation made my path more clear and gave me the confidence to pursue my goals.
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Have a list ready
Before you begin your job search, write down the qualities and values you are looking for in a work culture. Are there any dealbreakers or must-haves? Keeping a physical list in front of you during your search or interview will help you identify and opportunity, ask the right questions and increase the likelihood of finding the right fit. I knew, for example, that I wanted to find a company that was dedicated to promoting employee self-growth. With this in mind, I weeded out some opportunities, and eventually found a company that closely fit my criteria.
Embrace the virtual process
If you began this journey during the pandemic, or if you are looking for a remote position, don’t let the virtual process hold you back. A great way to start is with an outreach message through email. I took advantage of this silver lining and sent cold messages to individuals who either worked in a technical position at a company of interest or who were part of the company’s hiring team. I introduced myself, expressed my interest in their organization or career path, and asked for a few minutes of their time for an informational interview. The nature of the game is that you will not hear back from the majority of people, yet all it takes is one. This strategy is a great way to expand your contacts and land a job by networking with the right people.
Don’t sell yourself short
Imagine how many opportunities you could miss out on if you disqualify yourself first. You won't always fit a job's requirements 100 percent but continuing to put yourself out there shows interest, confidence and commitment.
A job posting for my current employer came through my notifications, and while I was categorically unqualified for that role, I didn’t let that stop me from looking into the company and talking with an HR or recruiting manager. Through that outreach and subsequent informational interview, I was then recommended to apply for two open positions that I did not know existed, and later I received a job offer for one of them, all because I didn’t hold back.
If you approach the job search as a learning process and stick to some of these guidelines, you will be on your way to finding the right fit.