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I Graduated College. Now What?

Common challenges faced by recent graduates

Congratulations on graduating from college! You should be proud of yourself for reaching this milestone. However, the transition from student to professional can be a challenging one. Post-grad life can be overwhelming, and it's normal to feel lost and uncertain about your future. Many recent graduates face common challenges such as finding a job, navigating student loans, and adjusting to life outside of school. But don't worry – you're not alone.

I graduated college, now what? One of the most significant challenges of post-grad life is the job search. It can be difficult to find a job that aligns with your interests and skills, especially in a competitive job market. Another challenge is managing student loans. Many graduates are burdened with debt, and it can be challenging to navigate repayment options and budgeting. Additionally, adjusting to life outside of school can be daunting. You no longer have the structure of a school schedule, and you may feel lost without the guidance of professors and advisors.

The importance of self-reflection and goal setting

Before you start your job search, take some time to reflect on your goals and interests. Self-reflection is an essential step in finding your path. Ask yourself what you enjoyed most about your college experience and what you want to achieve in your career. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses can also help you determine what type of job would be a good fit for you.

Once you've reflected on your goals and interests, it's time to set some actionable goals. Think about what steps you need to take to achieve your career goals. For example, if you want to work in marketing, consider taking online courses or internships to gain experience. Setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) can help you stay focused and motivated.

Exploring different career paths

Exploring different career paths is essential for finding your path. You may have a specific career in mind, but it's always a good idea to consider other options. Research different industries and job roles to see what interests you. You might discover a career path you hadn't considered before.

Informational interviews are also a great way to explore different career paths. Reach out to professionals in your desired industry and ask to meet for coffee or a phone call. Use this time to ask questions about their job and industry. This can help you gain valuable insights and make connections in your desired field.

GURU TIP: Did you know that the Santa Barbara Public Library has free resources for landing a job? Check out their offerings :

Basic Resume and Cover Letter Creation

We can work with you via phone and email to get your resume or cover letter created or updated and ready to submit with your job application.

Job Search Assistance

We will gather information for you on jobs currently available in the area in your desired field or that are a good fit for your skills and experience.

Computer Assistance

Having trouble with computer basics? We can help you learn how to access your email, search the internet, and use common office workplace software like Microsoft Office and Google Suite over the phone.

Interview Practice

Getting ready for a phone or remote interview? Practice with us and tackle it with confidence! We can also set you up with access to Big Interview, where you can view lessons about the hiring process and practice interviewing skills on your computer or device at home. When you're done, we can provide feedback and guidance.

Networking strategies for post-grads

Networking is a crucial part of finding a job. Many jobs aren't advertised publicly, and instead, are filled through referrals or connections. It's important to start building your professional network early on in your post-grad life. Attend career fairs, join professional organizations, and connect with alumni from your college. LinkedIn is also a great tool for networking. Make sure your profile is up-to-date and professional. TIP: What makes your resume or CV stand out from the rest. The "I am a hard worker" and "get along easily with others" are great but say nothing about job skills. If you are short on skills, than provide something interesting about yourself that makes you unique, or a story about a time you overcame obstacles that highlights your problem solving skills. Try to put yourself in the interviewer's shoes and imagine what they are seeking as the employer.

When networking, it's essential to approach it with a mindset of giving, not just receiving. Offer to help others in your network and provide value. This can help you build meaningful connections and establish yourself as a valuable professional. Remember, even if you didn't major in sales, everyone needs to sell themselves. That means hitting the phone, pounding the pavement and asking everyone you know, if they know someone in your chosen field. Keep making connections and attend any event that might get you in touch with the next person.

Interview post graduation
Prepare for the Interview

Building a strong personal brand

In today's digital age, it's essential to have a strong personal brand. Your personal brand is how you present yourself to the world, and it can impact your job search and professional reputation. Start by creating a personal website or online portfolio to showcase your work and skills. Make sure your social media profiles are professional and reflect your personal brand.

Additionally, consider creating content related to your industry. This could be blog posts, videos, or social media content. Creating content can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field and increase your visibility to potential employers.

Navigating job applications and interviews

Once you've identified your career goals and started building your network, it's time to start applying for jobs. Make sure your resume and cover letter are tailored to each job you apply for. Highlight your relevant skills and experience, and make sure your application stands out from the rest. If you're invited to an interview, take the time to prepare. Research the company and the role, and practice answering common interview questions. Make sure you dress professionally and arrive on time. During the interview, be confident and showcase your skills and experience.

Keep checking in! Just because your dream job has been filled doesn't mean there isn't other openings or future positions. Keeping in touch with your contacts without being a nuisance is good networking and shows grit. Even when you've already found a job, a once a year holiday check-in is a great way to stay in touch. It doesn't hurt to ask if they ever have any projects on a contract basis. If the response seems curt, ask this question " If you had one piece of advice to help me secure my desired position in the future, what would it be?" Hiring managers are busy people, so if you pose one very specific question, they will often take a moment to give a great answer.

Strategies for coping with rejection and setbacks

Job searching can be a difficult and emotional process, and it's important to have strategies for coping with rejection and setbacks. Remember that rejection is not a reflection of your worth as a person. Use rejection as an opportunity to learn and improve. Ask for feedback from employers and use it to improve your job search strategy.

I Graduated College. Now What?

Stay the course. Post-grad life can be challenging, but with the right mindset and strategies, you can navigate the transition from student to professional with ease. Take some time to reflect on your goals and interests, explore different career paths, and build your professional network. Remember to take care of yourself during the job search process and cope with rejection and setbacks. Above all, stay focused on your passions and values and use them to guide your career decisions. The future is yours for the taking!

The Santa Barbara GURU is a proud Vaquero and Gaucho alumna. I am so grateful to have studied at the amazing colleges of Santa Barbara City College and University of California Santa Barbara. Using the rich experience I gained working and volunteering with organizations like the Santa Barbara Zoo, The Wildlife Care Network, Coal Oil Point Reserve and the Santa Barbara Animal Shelter combined with a B.S. in Zoology from UCSB, I was able to begin my professional career in Environmental Consulting and Wildlife Management for the private sector within one year of graduation. I had an exciting career protecting sensitive species all over the western USA and internationally over a span of two decades. Now it's your turn; follow your passion!

Monitoring California Condors in their native habitat.
Monitoring California Condors in their native habitat.


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