3 Unexpected College Lessons To Take Into Your Job Search


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College graduates’ futures are finally looking up.

After years of ominous outlooks and negative statistics, companies are growing and ready to bring grads on board. In fact, according to an annual CareerBuilder survey, 74 percent of employers say they plan to hire recent college graduates this year.

While it’s important to round up all the lessons from your courses and major classes in preparation for job searching, it’s also crucial to think outside of the box. You’ve learned just as much — or maybe more — about the real world outside of the classroom.

Now it’s time to take what you’ve learned and start applying it to find your dream job. Here are three unexpected lessons every college graduate needs to take into their job search:

1. Adapting to different leadership models.

This is an important, and often hard-learned, lesson. It usually occurs during the first week of college when you’re getting acquainted with courses and first meeting professors.

You walk into biology and find a fun-loving, easy-going professor who is excited about making learning engaging for all 100 level learners. He even asks you to please, call him Dave.

Then, later in the week you walk into a psychology course where the professor demands a different level of respect, to be addressed as Doctor, and for you to learn at the speed of his 300 level students.

Put the lesson to use:

As a college graduate, you now understand how crucial it is to accommodate for varying leadership personalities throughout your job search. First impressions are challenging to decipher, so be yourself, but cautious until you get a sense of their personality.

2. Getting over the first day jitters.

Once you’ve graduated, it’s difficult to remember ever feeling uncomfortable at college. While it currently feels like you’re leaving home behind, think back to that first week. Moving in, not living with your parents for the first time, and then sitting in lecture halls, surrounded by strangers.

Those first day jitters will become all-too-familiar when you walk into a job interview or even your first day on the job.

Put the lesson to use:

Think back to how you calmed your nerves that first week at college. You took it slow, met new people who helped guide you through the process, took notes, and studied hard. Whether in the job search process or anxiously awaiting your first day, it’s important to walk through these same steps.

Create a network of people in similar job situations, remember to take a step back and breathe, take notes on the company and your position, and don’t forget to keep learning and studying about how to better yourself.

3. Holding yourself accountable.

Laundry, eating well, waking up on time, and doing your homework.

To make it through to college graduation, these are all things you had to learn to manage all on your own — most likely for the very first time. But walking across the stage and taking your diploma in hand means you’ve succeeded in most, if not all of these life situations.

Put the lesson to use:

The job search process is often challenging and stressful, so it’s normal to feel discouraged at times. Have those moments, but then hold yourself accountable for your responsibilities, and get back on your job search horse.

Set a schedule and goals for yourself.

How many jobs would you like to apply to in a week? How much time should you spend researching a company before applying? What time of the day do you feel refreshed and confident?

If you had a buddy system in college, signed up for studying hours or had someone who would check-in to make sure you were up for class, do the same for your job search. Having someone hold you accountable is a sure-fire way to push you to your limits and beyond.

What lessons did you learn in college, in- or outside the class that you can apply to your jobsearch. Share them with us!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.