Gear up the Pomp and Circumstance; college graduation is just a few weeks away! At this point, you may be scheduling your last meeting with professors, writing your last paper or preparing for your final exam, but there are a few items you need to add to your to-do list.
As you close out your collegiate chapter, it’s already time to start working on the next: your entry into the real world. Check out which must-do you should cross off now – before you make your final walk across campus.
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1. Update Your Resume
Whether or not you’ve started your post-collegiate job search, you need to update your resume
. Be sure to include any changes to your GPA as well as honors and achievements, clubs and organizations and part-time jobs during college.
Other collegiate experiences that you should definitely include on your resume are foreign language studies, time spent abroad, and internships. If your resume features a photo of you, ask your friend that’s a photography major to take a more professional headshot of you. You can use this on your resume as well as your LinkedIn profile.
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2. Schedule a Virtual Visit to Your College’s Career Services Center
College students have a HUGE advantage over working adults who are also job searching. They have at their disposal an entire staff, network and resource center whose sole purpose is to help them find a job. Before you graduate, make sure you’re utilizing your campus career center.
At your campus career center, you can search through the alumni network to see if there are any individuals working at companies or in cities you have a desire to pursue. There are also professionals who can assess your resume, cover letter, and letters of recommendation. If you can’t make it in person to the career center before graduation, try to schedule a virtual consultation.
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One of the most unique services your campus career center can provide are mock – or practice – interviews. A staff member at your campus career center can actually hold a job interview for you, and then walk you through things you did well, mistakes you might have made, and how you can conquer your real job interviews. Again, if you’re unable to make it in person to your campus career center, you can schedule a digital interview with your campus career center too.
3. Search for Jobs
As you’re getting help from your campus career center, you can also start your online job search. There’s no better place to begin than with Monster
. You can search for jobs by title, company and location. They also provide free resume critiques, salary tools and career advice in the event that you can’t make it to your campus career center. Finally, in helping students navigate the Coronavirus outbreak, Monster has hosted a virtual career panel to address recent graduates' job search and career outlook questions, which you can view here
You can also search for jobs the old-fashioned way: by word of mouth. Talk to your relatives, former mentors and employers, and friends about your job and career pursuits. Let them know you’re searching and to keep you in mind if they hear anything. This is called networking, and it can be a huge advantage when you’re searching for a job.
4. Reach Out and Save Network Connections
Speaking of networking
, be sure to add all of your college friends, professors and mentors to your contact list. Right now is the perfect time to touch base with your favorite professor, mentor or coach from college. Ask them how they're doing since campus has been closed and let them know how you've been doing as well. And voila; you're networking! This will come in handy as you navigate the first few years out of college. You’ll depend on this list for new jobs, letters of recommendation, and just to simply keep in touch.
At this point, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to professors or staff members at the college that you’ve grown close with to ask if they would represent you as a recommendation during your job search. By touching base with them now, rather than later, they’ll not only remember you (just think about how many students they come into contact with) but you won’t have to reach out over the summer when they may not be checking email as readily as they do during the school year.
5. Take Pics Around Campus
Now…for the fun stuff. Make sure you take time to tour the campus with your best friends from college. Take pictures of yourself as well as your group in some of your favorite places for some great graduation memories. Here are some ideas: your first residence hall or dorm room, your favorite place to study, or the spot on campus that you think is the most beautiful.
Also, make a bucket list of all the places around campus or your college town that you want to visit one last time. This could be your favorite restaurant, clothing store, or hiking trail. Again, grab a group of friends and take advantage of the down time you have between your exams and graduation ceremony to see and do it all.
If you had to leave campus abruptly because of the Coronavirus, you'll still have a chance to take these must-have photo memories. Oftentimes, campuses will host alumni sporting events in the fall to welcome alumni back to campus. Many universities host class reunions every five years, just like high schools. If you can't make it back on your own time, consider planning a trip for one of these alumni weekends with your college besties. It will be a great chance for you all to see one another, and say goodbye to your college properly.
6. Start Packing Your Dorm Room or Apartment
As hard as this part might be, start packing your dorm room or apartment before graduation. You don’t want to end your graduation day frantically packing up everything you’ve ever brought to college.
Instead, pack a few things each day the week before graduation. Make three different piles: keep, donate and sell. Try to figure out what you could sell first – maybe a futon? Coffee maker? Small television? You can likely pawn these items off to undergraduate students who will be returning.
Donate old clothes or things you don’t need anymore but can’t sell to the local thrift shop or at a donation site on campus. Sometimes, colleges host yard sales for the community once the students have left.
Don’t forget to keep some of those sentimental items, like fraternity paddles, sorority lanyards, or college t-shirts. While there may not be a place for them in your post-grad life, it will be fun to open up a box full of college memories down the road – complete with those items that you hung up in your room or wore every day.
Again, if you had to rush off of campus in response to the Coronavirus outbreak, you very likely have a pile of college boxes that you still need to go through. Do this now. Create the same three piles, and look for local organizations to donate to as well. This is also a great time to put together your memory box. If you're looking for company during this activity, consider asking one friend or a group of friends to Zoom as you sort through and relive college memories.
There’s no doubt that this part of the college experience is bittersweet. You may be ready to move on, but you can also undoubtedly feel the sadness at saying goodbye to one of the best experiences of your life. To cope, do the “end of college” the right way. Say goodbye, prepare yourself for what’s ahead, and enjoy each and every moment.