How to prepare for the graduation aftermath

Seeking out professionals in your field can help you manage the stress

Attending job fairs is a great way to network and connect with others in the industry. (Bart Cummings/TRU)

In the movies, graduating for university seems like a glamorous affair. The film’s protagonist almost always has a great job lined up and things like the cost and stress of finding that dream job, moving to a new city, being on your own and finding an apartment are rarely discussed. In reality, post-grad life can be a really stressful time for many students who are trying to navigate a professional life for the first time.

Larry Iles, a senior faculty member for TRU’s Career Education Department, says that with graduation only a few months away, try and seek out professionals in your prospective career.

“The best advice right now is, wherever possible, try to talk to a real person in your career choice. That’s always the first step,” Iles said.

Speaking with professionals who are working within the career path you might want to go is not only a networking opportunity, but also a way to get good and honest advice about the job.

“Say for example, someone wanted to be a career counselor they could reach out to me and invite me for a coffee. They’re not asking me for a job, they’re asking me about the courses I took, how I got this job, things I would have done different that would have made my career progress quicker,” Iles said.

Iles says that talking with professionals in your field also makes writing resumes, cover letters and answering interview questions a lot easier because that application package is then grounded in fact.

“That’s the problem with new grads, we don’t know what’s going on in the industries we want to move into,” Iles said.

Around this time of year, there are lots of job fairs and info sessions being held on campus, which can be a good place to start if you don’t know which direction you’d like to take your career, or to network or even to get some experience while you are still in school.

For students who are overwhelmed or maybe just not sure how to get started on their post-grad life, seeking help from resources on campus can be a good solution.

“We work extensively with students on just those questions: now what, what do I want to be, what are my next steps,” Iles said. “I work with thousands of employers all year and organizations.”

Iles adds that one of the most important tips he gives to students is that just a degree isn’t good enough anymore.

“We really encourage students prior to graduation, that they don’t just want to graduate with their degree and nothing else,” Iles said. “It’s not what they learned in school, it’s what they did with what they learned while in school.” 

So, even though you are battling your way through the end of the semester and anticipating the dreaded what are your plans question from all of your aunts and uncles, just take things one step at a time.