Until Grad School …

You have finally walked across the stage, shaken hands with President Judy Genshaft, and received your diploma. Many graduates plan to continue their education in graduate or professional school. There are many reasons to consider furthering your education right away, but what if you’re not ready for that step yet? In today’s post, we’ll discuss possible options that you can consider until you’re ready for grad school.

Entry-Level Jobs
When you graduate with your undergraduate degree, you will likely pursue one of two paths: furthering your education or entering the workforce. While some students go straight to grad school and others may have plans of returning to school later, the vast majority of students choose to immediately begin working in entry-level positions.

Entering the world of work allows you to begin using your degree instantly. You’re able to gain experience and continue to build on the essential skills that you developed in college. You’re also able to start establishing yourself financially, and while this isn’t impossible to do in graduate school, it may be a little easier to do.

Entry-level jobs also help you understand the industry that you have decided to work within. You can learn from your supervisors and coworkers, ask questions about how upper management makes their decisions, and continue to build your professional network in ways that can help you advance your career. Learning the ins and outs of the company and industry that you work within can help you determine whether or not furthering your education may be the right choice for you and can help you select an appropriate program of study.

If you’re considering an entry-level position, check out our Spring 2018 Career & Internship Fair Week. Employers will continue to register up until the week before the first fair on January 31, 2018, so mark your calendars now!

Myth: Internships are only for current students. Fact: Many companies accept recent graduates into their internship programs on a track toward full-time employment.

If you focused on your studies during your undergraduate years, a post-graduate internship can help you get some work experience on your resume. This allows the company to test your essential skills, like professionalism, teamwork, and communication and gives you an opportunity to see if you like the position and company before you agree to a full-time role.

To find these opportunities, you can attend our Spring 2018 Career & Internship Fair Week, but you may want to check out our other employer events as well. On November 14, we have an Industry Networking Night event for the Financial Services Industry, which will allow you to meet with representatives from a few companies all in one place. You don’t have to be a business or finance major to attend, but you should have an interest in working within the Financial Services Industry.

You can check out all of our opportunities to meet with employers on campus in Handshake in the Events and Fairs sections of the site. You can also use Handshake to do research on your own to see which companies have internships available for seniors or recent graduates.

Trade Schools and Certifications
Graduate and professional schools are not the only places where you can pursue post-graduate education. Trade schools are institutions that are focused on teaching their students a particular skill or about a specific industry. These include art institutes, technical schools, and specialists schools.

You can also consider pursuing a certificate program. These are often offered at colleges and universities and are less intense than graduate programs. They may be less expensive, require fewer classes, and take less time to complete than a traditional Master’s degree. Certifications are offered for a variety of different subjects or technologies. If you’re planning to work in a technology-driven industry or role, you can get certifications for Adobe, Microsoft, and Google, to name a few.

For both trade schools and certifications, be sure to do your research about what is offered, how much it will cost, how long it will take, and whether or not it will benefit you in your industry. If you need help considering this option or beginning your search, schedule an appointment with your Career Consultant through Handshake.

Time Off
If you take time off between graduating with your undergraduate degree and pursuing graduate school or entering the workforce, you may get some questions about what you did with that time during the interview process for your future program or job. Rather than going back home and working in a part-time job (a trap that Don Asher says you may not escape from!), consider taking time to explore your interests. A common option is to travel domestically or internationally. Even though it’s something a lot of people do, you can use this time to help you narrow your interests and solidify your passion for the field that you enter when you return, so don’t be afraid to talk about your unique experience during interviews.

If you absolutely have to return home, but still plan on going to graduate school or entering the world of work later, make your time off count. You may need to have a part-time or even full-time job to help make ends meet and begin paying off student loans if you have them, but you should also consider getting involved in your community. Volunteering can be a great way to demonstrate to a future program administrator or interviewer that you have passion and drive. If you can find volunteer opportunities within an area that you plan to continue to study or work, this will give you some great hands-on experience that can make you stand out during the application process.


Ace Your Interview

Interviews can be nerve racking! It is hard to sell yourself to someone to prove how you are the ideal candidate for a position. We hear your teeth chattering and see your goosebumps, so here are some tips to ace your interview!


Before the Interview

Do your homework and research the company. This will prove your interest in the company and give you a background of what you are potentially getting yourself into. This will also spark questions to ask your interviewer (we’ll come back to this).


Most interviews are constructed around behavioral-based interview questions. This means that interviewers are likely going to ask you questions concerning your past experiences, and you’ll need to answer in a specific format. We recommend using the STAR-L method. Describe the Situation, discuss your Task and the Action you took to get a Result, and then talk about what you Learned.


You can find examples of this type of question online, and you should practice so that you are more comfortable. You can access Optimal Interview, a site that allows you to record responses to questions using your webcam, online for free through Career Services. You can also schedule an appointment to meet with a Career Consultant for a mock interview. This takes some time, so be sure to set this up well in advance in case your Consultant is booked out. If you don’t have time to wait for an appointment, you can visit Career Express for interview tips.


Interviewers have access to the internet too, and most likely will do their homework as well and look you up.  With that said, review your online image because if you are able to find yourself, they can too. Before you even walk through their doors, an interviewer might have a pretty good idea about who are you, so make that image the best version of yourself.


Know the logistics. This includes the location, time, dress code, and interviewer’s name. If the interview is going to be somewhere you have never been before, go there before the day of your interview so that you know how much time to plan to get there.


On the day of the interview, eat a good meal beforehand, bring copies of your resume for both the interviewer(s) and yourself, and plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early. When you arrive, tell the staff member at the front you name, why you are there, and who you are meeting with. Be friendly to any staff member you come into contact with – they may be your future coworker!


During the Interview

When you meet the interviewer, shake their hand firmly and introduce yourself with your full name. Maintaining eye contact throughout the interview is imperative. Eye contact shows that you are attentive and interested in what the interviewer is saying. And don’t forget to smile! A smile is inviting and warm and will make the interviewer feel like they can trust you more.


Avoid touching your face, hair, and other objects as these types of movements can show that you are nervous. If you feel the need to do something with your hands, simply fold them in your lap or use them to take notes about what the interviewer is saying.


After the Interview

The interviewer is most likely going to ask if you have any questions. This is where your prior research will come in. The interviewer may make it appear that asking is optional, but asking questions is important if you want to show that you are interested in working for the company. You can get ideas on what types of questions to ask online, but avoid simply asking about what they most enjoy on the job. The interviewer will remember you, and if you can demonstrate that you are already familiar with the company’s initiatives, they’ll have a good reason to keep you in mind!


If your interview is in the morning, send a thank you email by the end of the business day. If your interview is in the late afternoon or evening, send your thank you email by the following morning.


If you haven’t heard anything about your status, you can email or call the interviewer, but don’t do this any earlier than five business days. You want to give the interviewer time to review other candidates, but you also want them to know that you are still serious about and interested in the position.