Career Advice

How New Grads Can Jump Start Their Careers

As 2011 graduates filed out of commencement ceremonies and into the job market this spring, they continue to face a dearth of employment opportunities. The U.S. Department of Labor’s recent jobs report showed that the national economy added only 54,000 jobs during the month of May, and the unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged at 9.1 percent. When faced with older, more experienced competition for jobs, what’s a new grad to do? Mario Schulzke, founder of online career training firm CareerSparx, says there are plenty of steps new graduates can take to jumpstart their careers. Here are a few of his suggestions:

  • Get an internship. “The one big thing your competition possesses that you don’t is experience,” Schulzke says. “But experience is easier to come by than you may think. Get an internship. An internship allows you to gain real world experience, something that you may not have had a lot of up until this point. In addition, an internship offers you other opportunities that an entry-level job might not, such as the chance to work directly under a higher level employee, which can give you more opportunities to learn and work on bigger projects.”

  • Highlight your social media smarts. “Millenials are as comfortable communicating via the Web as they are brushing their teeth, and nearly all companies these days value digital smarts,” Schulzke says. “So show it off whenever possible. Start a blog or website related to the career of your dreams. Are you dying to break into the fashion industry? Start a fashion site, and use it as an
    excuse to network and build relationships with other fashion influencers. Do you want to be a Web developer? Start creating your own Web properties and building your portfolio by offering friends your technical or design services. You get the idea.”
  • Harness the power of search engines. “Employers expect most job seekers to have an online presence,” Schulzke says. “For younger workers, this should be a lot easier to establish than older
    professionals who might still be grasping the concept of LinkedIn or Twitter. Google yourself to see what’s out there about you, and remove any dubious content, like tightening your Facebook privacy settings or deleting unprofessional tweets. Build up your positive presence by maintaining strong profiles on LinkedIn and ZoomInfo – two websites that recruiters and HR managers frequent – and commenting on industry sites. And if you have a website or blog, make sure it’s clearly linked to your name.”
  • Leverage your alumni network. “As a recent college grad, you are still closely associated with the university you just emerged from,” Schulzke adds. “Take advantage of that college connection while it’s still fresh. Attend alumni events, subscribe to your alumni magazine, or attend homecoming or the big rivalry game. Most alums – recent and older alike – are happy to hear from fellow
    recent grads who are trying to kick-start their careers. Even if they’re not in the position to help you get a job right away, they may have someone in their network who is looking to hire.”