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How important is what I do after I graduate?

I have no idea what I'm going to do when I graduate in the winter of 2020. That's two years away, making me halfway through my college career. I get that I still have time but is it able to have a corporate career if I go and do volunteer work or travel after graduating?

after-graduation college-advice career career-path college career-planning high-school graduation

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From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

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6 answers


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Jean’s Answer

This is a great question that I'm sure many students close to graduation have, and this question is not limited to just college students. Many professionals change career paths throughout their life, adjusting to their likes, experiences, and what they are good at. I would suggest to take risks while you're young, explore your options, and find ways to continuously grow throughout your career.

Jean recommends the following next steps:

Explore linkedin profiles of professionals in your interested field. Take a look at their degree(s), experiences, and interests. You'll soon see that there is no one set path, everyone's journey is different.
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Eva’s Answer

This is a very good question. My experience -- and an experience I've seen from colleagues over the years -- is that people change their occupation following college and throughout their career. For example, while I received my college degree in studio art, my work has focused on fundraising and management for theater, dance, and art organizations. So, my art background has been helpful in understanding how artists work, but I gained additional skills to be able to fundraise and manage organizations after I left college.


My suggestion is to find a major that you like now, take the courses you need to excel in that, and try it out when you graduate. If you don't like it, you'll skill has marketable skills to translate into another field. Some transferable skills include excellent writing and research skills; experience in computer languages and programs (including excel); and financial management skills (or at least a good understanding of budgeting and financial markets.


Eva recommends the following next steps:

Make a list of five fields you think you'd like to work in. Research what different jobs are in these fields.
Contact people who work in these fields, in these types of jobs. Contact them, tell them that you are a student and interested in their field, and ask if you could take them out for coffee to learn more about how they entered their field, what skills they think are important to have for their line of work, and what they do on a day to day basis.
Based on the various answers you get from interviewing people in these fields, look at your college coursework and determine what classes would be helpful to you in learning these skills and understanding these fields.
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Rachel’s Answer

Taking a gap year after college is certainly reasonable. I would recommend doing something meaningful during that time though. If you travel, learn a foreign language. If you volunteer, develop a skill. You will need to have something to show for yourself.
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Kim’s Answer

Hi Ethan

You have been given some excellent advice already. I have a couple of additional thoughts for your consideration. You may want to gain a better understanding of your true strengths and then explore careers or job opportunities that are complimentary. StrengthsFinder is an excellent method of strength assessment. Once you have the insights from the report, I would highly recommend pursuing internships that align with your strengths. You will gain a lot of insight into how your strengths lead you to certain roles and if you like working in that environment.

Kim recommends the following next steps:

Take the StrengthsFinder assessment and review the results for potential matches to your education and career.
Pursue summer internship opportunities that align with your strengths.
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Richard’s Answer

People will look at your past job experience so you need to make sure to use your degree soon after graduation.

If you take a year off, make sure that in future interviews, you are able to talk about your travelling or volunteering in a meaningful way.
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Arnel’s Answer

This is the same question I asked myself some 30 years ago after I graduated from college and finished my Bachelors degree. The answer lies in YOU. You need to know your strength, weakness and other personal traits and characteristics and based on how you know yourself, you will be able to direct your future. Hope this helps and good luck!
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