I Finished My Freshman Year, Now What?

Joshua Hulkkonen is a recent graduate from Azusa Pacific University. Joshua grew up in the Northern California, but moved down to Los Angeles to pursue his Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a Journalism minor. While in school Joshua held many different positions including: Resident Advisor, New Media intern for Warner Bros. Records, and Casting intern for Casting Duo. He also spent a semester studying abroad in South Africa where he had the opportunity of working in a women’s shelter. After graduation, Joshua worked as a Casting Associate for some of his favorite reality television shows MasterChef and The Amazing Race as well as a VIP Tour Guide at Universal Studios before moving to Phoenix. He is excited to see what the Lord has in store for his life and is currently working as a Resident Director at Grand Canyon University while pursuing an MBA with an emphasis in Leadership.

One of the most stressful things I noticed during the college experience for many of my peers was trying to answer the question, what comes next?

Where will I be able to find a job? What if I can’t find a job? What will my job be?

I also saw many individuals ignore that question until their senior year. For them, it minimized their options and made it even more difficult to find something they would enjoy out of college.

The best thing you can do is start early. Even if you are unsure of what you want to do, there are many things you can put into practice to help you see different options and even try different things out before you graduate.

1) Find an internship while in school.

This can be one of the best things you can do to help yourself out. Not only does an internship give you something you can add to your resume, it also allows you to try something you think you might like. If you are curious about PR, find an internship. If you thought about working for a non-profit, find one and become an intern. Or if you want to work in a medical lab, find an internship. Even though many are unpaid, it will enhance your skills and give you a better idea about what a job in that field actually looks like. You never know, but maybe the internship you get will be one you love and a job offer will come from it.

2) Find a leadership position on campus.

College campuses have a plethora of different things you can do to gain work experience while being involved with student activities. From being a resident assistant and helping build community within your hall or working with orientation groups to connect new students to the ongoing traditions, there are many options to build your resume while being involved with things going on at your university. These will help build new skills while sharpening old ones and will give you unique experiences to talk about while in a future interview. Many employers see these experiences as invaluable and you will meet many people that may become some of your best friends.

3) Informational Interviews.

One of the most underutilized things you can do to help find a job you will enjoy after graduation is informational interviews. People love to help college students. If you are curious about what someone working in marketing actually does, call and see if you can set up an interview. This can help you make connections, network, and enlighten you to what you might actually be doing once you graduate. I have seen some friends do this, and at the end they were given job offers because of the enthusiasm and excitement they exuded while asking questions. A little bit of caution: DO NOT go to an informational interview expecting to get a job and DO NOT go unprepared. Write down a list of questions before you meet with them and do a little bit of research so you aren’t covering the basics that you could of found with a simple Google search.

4) Study abroad.

There are so many things we learn while in college, but something that can add even more is traveling and studying in a new place. This is something that many employers love to see on resumes. It tends to open up your eyes to new cultures and gives a broader view of what the world holds. Studying abroad can help you relate to more people and will give you more insight into why certain people act the way they do. It will also give you lifelong friends and memories that will last forever. This is one of the best things I did while in school and it opened my eyes to so many different possibilities.

5) Work hard.

Finding a job is work. I think one of the commonalities I saw in individuals that were not able to find a job once school was over is that they didn’t really try very hard. I heard lots of people say, “the economy isn’t really that great” or “there aren’t any job openings I want”; just know your first job out of college probably won’t be your dream job and that is okay. It will take time and work to get there. Typically, the perfect job doesn’t fall on your lap without any effort given.

6) Have Fun.

You only get to go to college once. While good grades, internships, jobs, and many other things need to have balance, it is important to remember to make time for friends. Many people say they found their best friends while in college, so take time to invest in the lives of people you share common interests with. Build relationships that will last a lifetime and do things that you enjoy, not everything you do has to be working towards your future career.

If a job doesn’t seem to happen, try and try again. I applied for over fifty jobs during my senior year and only had a few interviews. If something doesn’t seem to happen, re-evaluate your resume and meet with people in your desired industry. Ask them to look at your experience and resume and see if there is anything you can change to help your chances of finding a job. If there were one thing I could tell everyone, it would be to use the people around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many of your professors, friends, family, mentors, and staff want to see you succeed! I am sure many of them will give you few moments of their time if you ask for their help and work hard to make yourself marketable.

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