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College Is Over ... Now What?

Here’s the situation: You are a new college graduate, fresh out of school with your diploma still warm off the printer. You’ve got a great degree—and you’ve worked extremely hard to get it.

But there’s a catch. You don’t have a lot of job experience—and, of course, every job you want to apply for has some type of minimum experience requirement, right?

So if you are a new graduate in this situation, what should you do?

First off, take a deep breath. You’re going to find a job. Are you going to hop right into your dream position right out of college? Probably not. But you’re going to find a job. Relax.

You might have to contact 30 companies. You might have to start out at an entry-level, “gofer” position—getting coffee, running errands, making copies, organizing files. But your primary goal should be to get your foot in the door.

Don’t just rest on your college degree. You need to clearly communicate to these companies what you have to offer. There are companies out there that are looking for smart and hardworking college grads, and you need to prove that you are just that person.

But, more importantly, you need to remember that money isn’t the only factor you need to think about. Career coach Dan Miller—author of 48 Days to the Work You Love and No More Mondays—says that money is ultimately never enough compensation for doing a job.

Hopefully, you chose your college major because it was something you enjoyed studying. With your first job, find something that blends your skills, abilities, personality traits, values, dreams and passion. Don’t enroll in law school or work as a salesman if you aren’t passionate about working in those fields.

But, remember, you’re probably not going to find your dream job right out of college. You might have to suck up your pride. If you have a degree in business management and you want to work in human resources, then you should probably expect to start out at the bottom of an HR department—if you start in the HR department at all. Sometimes it may help you just to get in at a company with a good HR department, taking a job doing something else until an HR position opens.

The average job for the average worker in America is only 2.1 years in length. For workers in their twenties, that timeframe is even shorter. Whether you love or hate your first job out of college, keep in mind that it probably isn’t forever. Continue learning and making yourself a valuable team member, and you’ll succeed at whatever you do.

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