As you work toward earning a college degree, it’s important to keep in mind how you plan to use it. What kind of career track are you considering? Do you know how to find a job after college?
There are many ways you can make yourself more marketable to potential employers, and you can start on this well before you even graduate. Here are some steps to consider when it comes to finding a job after college.
12 tips on how to find a job after college graduation
Consider some — or all — of the following tips as you strategize your post-college career path:
1. Make use of your campus career center
2. Get involved in undergraduate research
3. Join campus organizations and clubs
4. Consider volunteering
5. Complete an internship
6. Get a job
7. Build your network
8. Analyze and track your achievements
9. Create a website
10. Keep up with news on your industry
11. Take a class
12. Practice interviewing
Plus: Final thoughts on finding a job after college graduation
Your university’s campus career center provides valuable (and free) resources to help you on your career journey. You can take advantage of this service while you are still in school, as you figure out how to look for a job after college. Most such centers will provide counseling to help you figure out a career that interests you, and meet the qualifications you need to pursue it.
They may also provide help with career skills such as crafting a resume. Creating a resume mock-up and getting feedback from a career center can help you put your best foot forward when you are applying for jobs after college.
A career center can also coach you through mock interviews and help you practice your interviewing skills, among other services.
If you have a keen interest in a particular field — be it biology or public administration or music or computer science — you may be able to work with a professor to help him or her with related research projects.
This may mean doing actual research in a lab, or taking part in a creative project during the summertime or any number of options that can provide you with career-building experience that you can add to your resume before you graduate.
You can either talk to one of your own professors, or look up other professors who you know are working on projects in your area of interest. Contact them and let them know you’re interested in helping out.
You might also consider joining campus clubs and organizations that can get you great job-related experience.
For example, are you interested in journalism? Joining the school newspaper could mean you are armed with a number of worthy article clips before you ever have your first “real” job. Interested in a career in cybersecurity? There may just be a club for that. Are you thinking of launching your own business? Join an entrepreneurs club, if your college offers it.
Getting experience in these areas could be invaluable in pushing you toward your dream career.
You can also look off campus to sign up for volunteer work that will look good on your resume (and also make you feel good about helping your community). Thinking of going into a career in education? You can look into volunteering with an organization focused on kids, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Looking toward a career in politics? Volunteer on a local or national political campaign.
Your volunteer work provides more experience that can look great on your resume as you look for your first post-college job. You may even be able to get college credits for your volunteer work.
For true real-world experience, an internship can be irreplaceable. Many of these internships can happen in the summertime, when you are on a school break, and contrary to popular belief, many of them actually offer decent pay.
Many companies actively recruit summer interns; for example, Facebook offers an eight-week summer internship program called University for Operations (FBU Ops). If you’re looking into a career in tech, experience such as this could give you a big boost. You might also look for a post-graduate internship, which could eventually turn into a real job.
Understand that internships take some work to apply for and get, as many are quite competitive. The experience of applying and obtaining an internship can further help you develop and test career skills. Participating in an internship program can also show future potential employers that you are a self-starter with a passion for your industry.
Yes, this article is focused on how you can find your first job after graduating college. However, the paid work you do while you are still in college can also translate to great resume experience for your first truly professional gig. This can include not only internship programs, as discussed above, but also more official employment.
Your job may be an on- or off-campus experience, and may involve your federal work study benefit. For example, if you’re thinking about a job in the computer field, a work study position at the computer lab just might help highlight that interest on your resume. Or if you are looking toward a career in the health field, you might consider a student assistant position in a campus lab.
You may also be able to find outside work that can help boost your professional resume before you graduate. Even working as a barista at a coffee shop could come in handy if you are looking toward a job in the culinary industry.
Networking can be vital to students searching for their first job after college, especially as they struggle to get noticed among the rush of other applicants.
As you gain experience through classes, research, volunteering or work, compile a list of the professors, employers and others whom you are confident can provide a strong reference for you when you need it, as well as potentially offer advice on pursuing your career goals. You can also attend job fairs that come to your campus, which can be a great way of getting face-to-face contact with potential future employers even before you graduate.
And as soon as you graduate, you can make use of your school’s alumni association to make connections with other former students who may be able to guide you on your chosen career path.
You can also build your network by joining a job site such as LinkedIn. You may think such sites are only for people who have already graduated from college, but that is not the case. You can create a profile and make good use of it even while you are still in school, by listing all your relevant experience and making valuable connections to people who are already working in your field of interest.
As you prepare for finding a job after college, you should start to compile your achievements in a document that you can continue to add to as you gain more experience. Don’t simply list your achievements and activities; find ways to highlight what about your experience in these areas makes you stand out.
If you track these things as you go, you’ll have a strong list of experience and achievements to point to in cover letters and interviews, and you won’t have to think too hard when you sit down to write your resume or CV.
You may want to take some of those achievements you’ve been compiling and use them to create a personal website that highlights your experience and talents. Your site may include writing clips, videos and other media that show off your strengths for future employers.
Having a professional-looking personal website could help put you a step above other recent grads, and can be more impressive than just having a LinkedIn profile.
Don’t worry if you aren’t particularly tech savvy. You can hire someone to help you put together the website, or perhaps ask a techie friend to help.
If you have a particular career interest, you should always be aware of the latest developments within your intended industry.
For example, if you’re looking toward a career in education, stay up to date on the latest developments regarding the SAT and GRE. If you want to work in book publishing, scour the New York Times Best-Seller List so you have a good idea of the current trends in fiction and non-fiction.
You always want to be prepared to talk intelligently about your area of career interest in case you find yourself in a situation in which it could help you land a job. Stay up on the news, and it’ll be that much easier to wow a future employer.
You may realize, after you graduate, that you are interested in a career path you didn’t consider while you were still in school. Instead of lamenting the fact that you didn’t take the right courses when you were still a student, you can take advantage of the wealth of in-person or online courses that are available to everyone.
Are you an English graduate who is now thinking about getting into coding? Consider a coding boot camp, or take an online coding class through Coursera. Have you decided you’d like a career in marketing but don’t think your college experience quite translates? Take an online marketing strategy class to boost your knowledge.
It’s never been easier to self-educate, even if you already have a college degree. Take advantage of what’s out there, for your own learning pleasure and to potentially help you get a leg up with potential employers.
Interviewing is a learned skill, and it definitely isn’t easy for everyone. Many people get serious jitters when it comes to interviewing, and this can lead to an underwhelming performance.
Before you interview for that dream job, you might consider sitting down with a friend or family member and going through a mock interview process that might help you calm your nerves and feel more prepared. You might also consider hiring an interview coach who has professional experience in helping people overcome their fears in this realm.
Informational interviews, in which you sit down with a company representative to discuss potential future jobs even if their firm is not currently hiring, can also help you boost your skills before you actually interview for your dream position.
Many students wonder how to figure out what to do after college, including finding their first job. Job hunting can be an overwhelming experience, especially when you are new to it.
However, if you prepare yourself while you are still in school, you can graduate with the knowledge and experience that can help you start on your career journey with confidence.
For more on pursuing your career path, see this expert advice on how to find a job you really love.
Elyssa Kirkham contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.88% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.39%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.13% – 5.25%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2021.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Interest Rate Disclosure
Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.59% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.
Auto Pay Discount Disclosure
You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.
Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples
These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.
One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates from 2.74% APR to 6.74% APR (with autopay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.39% APR (with autopay). All variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR and may increase after consummation if LIBOR increases; see more at SoFi.com/legal/#1. If approved for a loan your rate will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit profile, your application and your selected loan terms. Your rate will be within the ranges of rates listed above. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Additional terms and conditions apply; see SoFi.com/eligibility for details. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
6 Important Disclosures for Navient.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.