OPINION: Preparing for post-graduation life

(Illustration by Kent Willmeth | The Collegian)

Dozens of students headed off to the career fair this week, and for many it was one more step toward their end goal – graduation. Graduation seems simple enough, but it’s much harder than walking across a stage and shaking hands. That one piece of paper is something students have been working toward for nearly two decades, if not longer, and once you have it you have to find a way to use it.

Easier said than done, right? Just ask students who have been schmoozing, interviewing and handing out resumes and references like they’re candy this week. Finding a job for post-graduation life can be difficult, but there’s some great resources available on and off campus to students and recent graduates.

“Utilize the resources that are available while you are still on campus,” Jared Meitler, coordinator for the Academic and Career Information Center, said. “Career and Employment Services, the Academic and Career Information Center, and Powercat Financial Counseling are a small sample of the tremendous, and free, resources at your disposal.”

CES is located in Holtz Hall and helps students prepare for and find career fairs, tweak resumes, find job listings and internships and gives interview tricks and tips. PFC offers students important financial education on how to budget, save, avoid identity theft and manage student loans and debt. ACIC assists students with everything from finding the right major to developing career opportunities.

All of these are great services to access and students walk right past them every day without realizing it. It’s really easy to think you have it all under control or that you don’t need help yet, but before you know it you’re graduating and regretting not asking these experienced people for their help.

“The CES Account may be one of the best kept secrets on our campus,” Meitler said. “It is user friendly, offers customization and is the gateway to hundreds of part-time and full-time internships and jobs that are targeted towards K-State students.”

According to the CES webpage, a CES account can be created for free by students and is a place to search for jobs, post resumes and find contact information for hundreds of companies and recruiters.

Kerri Keller, executive director of CES, said that it is never too early or too late to utilize these resources. Recently graduated students can still use CES for up to one year after graduation, which gives them access to a job database, resume and interview advice, a list of potential alumni connections and freshmen can get a jump on competition by building up their resumes with internships and part-time jobs.

“Internships are increasingly important for gaining marketable experience, testing out career options, developing a professional network and getting a step in the door to full-time employment,” Keller said. “As a freshman, get involved with student organizations, service learning, research and other opportunities for demonstrating your potential for an internship as a sophomore or junior.”

While all of these resources are wonderful places to get help from, in the end it is up to you and you alone to make yourself hirable. Be professional and confident and do your homework before going into an interview.

“Be well prepared with information about the company and industry before you interview,” Keller said. “Be ready to describe your experience during an interview using the STAR method; describe a situation, tasks involved, action you took and the results of your efforts.”

If you want these companies to hire you, you have to know what makes you stand out based on what they need from an employee. Confidence is key. If you don’t think you’re good enough then why should someone hiring? If things aren’t going exactly how you planned, don’t give up.

Susan Tompor, USA Today author of “How do you land that job after college,” said that “it can be too easy to stop looking, especially if you don’t have success in the first few months after graduating from college. But the hiring picture is ever changing, and jobs open up all the time. Be willing to stretch, and have some hope that you ultimately will find a real job.”

Whether you’re a freshman, a senior, or anywhere in between, go out into the world knowing that you will figure out your post-graduation plans, and that you don’t have to do it alone.