I’ve talked to a lot of younger women lately who seem anxious about their future— feeling like they are ill prepared to face the job market, and unsure about the “right kind of job” to pursue.
Let me start by saying, there is no need to be afraid–no matter what situation you’re in! Everybody has anxieties, and even those who seem to have it all figured out in college tend to struggle at some point along their career journey.
College is complicated! It’s a pivotal part of life that should be taken seriously, but it’s also an oasis from the “real world,” which should be enjoyed!
Based on my own experiences in college, as well as having recently traveled to several college campuses for a recruiting gig—I’ve noticed that when it comes to thinking about their future, students tend to fit into one of the following categories (or a hybrid of the three).
You may have multiple internships under your belt, are very involved with campus clubs and organizations and actively search the job boards.
The pros: You’ve got grit—which is a trait required for success (and arguably, cannot be taught!). You are ahead of many of your peers, and you’ll have a good chance of getting an entry-level job after college.
The cons: You still have to be prepared for the possibility that you may not land your dream job right away, or that your “dream job” may not turn out to be ideal. Try not to become SO obsessed with finding a career that you end up missing out on the college experience!
“The Worry Wart”
You may often stress about whether or not you are in the right major or if you’ve done enough to stand out from other students. You may at times feel lost or overwhelmed when thinking about life after college (which was totally me!).
The pros: You are thinking about your future, and you are willing to do something about it—you just need a bit of extra guidance
The cons: Stop worrying! You’ll feel much better if you enjoy college, embrace the unknown, and focus on making small inroads towards finding your ideal career.
“The Party Animal/ Social Superstar”
You are fully enjoying college, and you’ve got friends for days!
The pros: You’ll always have great stories and interesting experiences to talk about from your college days, and you’re probably quite comfortable in social situations (which will come in handy in pretty much every career).
The cons: If you haven’t given much thought to the next step in your life, life after graduation might come as a shock. The job market is competitive, and although social skills (namely—the ability to make conversation) are important—you’ll be measured against those with a dynamic resume and/or diverse interests.
No matter what category you fit into (if any of these), you’ll best be able to set yourself up for career success if you can create some semblance of balance during your college years. This means enjoying the college experience, but also being proactive in your approach to your future career.
HOW TO GET PROACTIVE NOW:
- Get a hobby outside of partying
- Dabbling in different interest will help you get closer to figuring out what job you would enjoy most.
- Make time for the things you’re good at and really enjoy doing (i.e. painting, dancing, writing, hiking or cooking)!
- Stop taking classes because they are easy, and try some that might actually interest you!
- You are paying a lot for college! I know it’s tempting to take the same classes that your BFFs are taking, but focus on what intrigues YOU (my favorite classes turned out to be women gender studies and anthropology!).
- Get a part time job
- If you can’t get an internship related to the career you want, then take a part time job. Focus on saving money! This will be your cushion if you end up job-less at any point down the line.
- Set up informational interviews
- This is so important! Talk to older friends, your parents friends, anyone that has a job that sounds interesting to you! Not only will it help you get a better sense of what you want to do, but people appreciate being asked for advice, and they are very likely to help you in the future.
- Research as many possible career paths as possible!
- Check out http://www.careercontessa.com/contessas/ to read about the lives of women in a range of jobs and industries, and find out what their “day to day” is really like.
- Sites like www.glassdoor.com provide reviews from current/former employees at various companies, which helps you figure out what the company culture will be like and also gives you salary ranges for each job.
No matter where you end up after college, rest assured, you will be okay! As long as you keep an open mind, you will always be able to create new opportunities for yourself. I waited tables for a year after college, and it helped me save up enough money to move to Los Angeles on my own dime (and I’m doing just fine).
Remember: you are not defined by what you’re doing today. Life is a game, and you’ll be successful as long as you keep your nose to the grindstone and continue making moves in the right direction.