I've Graduated, Now What? 


It’s graduation season! In a few weeks, thousands of people will be earning new degrees and walking across the stage. Maybe you’ll be one of them!

Graduation season is such an exciting time. All of that hard work has finally paid off—you’ve got that piece of paper that says you’re degreed! It’s a stamp of qualification and it’s important one that results in higher lifetime earnings and a better quality of life.

But graduation can also be confusing and stress-inducing because there’s the question of what comes next. You have the degree but what does it translate to? How can you harness that degree in preparation for your awesome future?

Right now, we’re in a crisis. People are getting the degrees they’ve worked so hard for but they’re under-employed or unemployed. They feel stifled and like they’re not living up to their full professional potential. They start to feel like it wasn’t worth it going to college or graduate school any at all. Like it was a mistake.

But, it’s not! You can take tangible steps to prepare yourself for the world outside of school!

 1)      Take the time to assess your passions.

You’re a soon to be graduate so you’ve got to start thinking about what you want to do in the world outside of school.

What have you discovered in your degree program that has excited and inspired you? What have you taken part in that’s helped you to see the world differently? What is your ideal professional life?

Once you start seriously thinking about these answers you’ll uncover so much knowledge about yourself and you can position yourself to head in a direction that will personally fulfill you.

Career counseling is a great way to work with somebody who can help you get on the right track.


2)      Create a solid resume.

Resumes are important documents that should never be left until the last moment. Resumes are living documents that should be added to and tweaked every time you do something professionally significant.

To create a solid resume, you’ll need to start with a list of your degrees, job positions, relevant extracurriculars, community service, and research presentations and papers to name a few categories. You’ll then need to organize this information into a professional-looking and sounding document that highlights your most relevant skills.

Working with a resume editor is a great way to make sure your resume will garner the right kind of attention from prospective employers.

3)      Start looking to your professors, administrators, and classmates as networking opportunities.

You’re still in school so this is the perfect opportunity to leverage your school community for networking opportunities. You never know who may have the connect you need.

How do you leverage these contacts? Try inviting people to coffee or lunch and talking about your interests while also staying engaged with theirs. There may be an opportunity for you to solve a problem they have and likewise they may have information that will be helpful to you.

Think of networking as a mutual exchange. You’re not only trying to get helpful connects from other people but you’re also putting yourself in the position to be helpful to others. When you create a mutual relationship they will last longer and be more fruitful.

4)      Take part in job fairs.

Most schools offer job fairs—especially in the springtime when graduation is nearing. Take advantage of these opportunities! Use them to get a feel for what it’s like to hand your resume in to others. Practice explaining your specialties and qualifications in a short time—think 2 minutes tops! If you were in an elevator with a potential employer could you explain why you’d be a good hire in time?

Also, practice your interviewing skills! Interviewing is an important skill that will make all the difference when you’re applying for jobs.

You can also take part in fairs tailored towards your field. Sistas in Stem has some great tips for STEM graduates!

If you’re a soon to be graduate or even if you have some time left in your program these tips can help you prepare for what’s waiting for you on the other side! Getting that degree is the first step, it’s not the final step. You still need to do the work to position yourself for the opportunities that are awaiting!


Mertina Writing Services offers academic coaching services and we can also help you with your resumes and cover letters! Email us at contact@mertinawriting.com or text us at (615) 348-7794. We’d be happy to help!

This post was done in partnership with Sistas in Stem, an organization that is dedicated to helping Black women in STEM fields find success! Check out their website for more information!