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3 Things I Should Have Done In College to Land a Job After Graduation

Posted on by Brenden Morgan

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’ve been out of work for an inexcusable amount of time. My graduation from the University of Oregon came and went in December and my naivety led me to believe that there would be a salaried job waiting for me once I had a college degree.

After hundreds (feels like thousands) of sent resumes, informational interviews, and connections made through family and friends, I’m still jobless.

While I remain excited about the career path that I have chosen – working in communications in Oregon — there are three things I would have done differently in college given the chance:

1. Intern. Most importantly, I would have interned between junior and senior year. That means looking for potential internships during my sophomore year. I was not so focused during those college years. Many employers today look for graduates to have multiple internships under their belt before giving them an opportunity, so it’s good to get a leg up sooner rather than later.

2. Join clubs and groups. As an advertising major,  I worked on many class projects that added lots of pieces to my portfolio. But there is only so much you can do in class and with friends. There were groups like the Ad Team, Allen Hall Advertising, and the National Student Advertising Competition that met frequently and worked on other material that I should have participated in. By not joining, I missed out on opportunities to create new content outside the classroom.

3. Network. Although I am shy and the idea of talking with strangers terrifies me, I should have forced myself to attend events, lectures, and networking opportunities. Not only would I have made connections that would have helped with my job search, but I would become more comfortable dealing with those situations in the future.

I regret not taking advantage of the resources that I had available at the time but with my new internship here at “Mac’s List” and the wealth of knowledge that I’ve gained since graduation, I feel that I am well on my way to finding a permanent, full-time job in communications.

What would you go back and change to make you a more marketable recent graduate?  

Brenden Morgan
Brenden is a former Social and Digital Media intern at Mac's List.
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  • Charli

    Excellent advice! I have the job I have now because of connections I made in college, and that job in college also gave me insight on what I wanted to do long term. I often feel like colleges don’t stress the importance of work experience off campus.

  • Great tips! The other thing I’d recommend? Work a regular job during college, even if it’s only 5-10 hours a week! Having solid work experience, even if it’s not relevant to your career aspirations, looks good to us recruiters – and shows not only that you can multitask, but that we don’t have to teach you “How To Be A Good Employee 101”. I worked through high school and college and while yes, it was exhausting, I was miles ahead of those who were just learning how to be in a professional environment.

  • Jen Busick Stewart

    Great advice Brenden! I work in Career Services at OSU (Go Beavs!) and all the points you make in your post we try to encourage students to do. My personal goal is to get this message to students starting their freshman year (even during orientation…although often they aren’t in the career mindset at that point). Do you have suggestions of how we can better get your three points across to students while they are still in school?

  • Brenden Morgan

    Thank you all for your feedback! @twitter-326915410:disqus I agree with you, I worked a customer service oriented campus job through school and it turned out to be a great way to meet students, community members, and the school’s administrators.

  • Heather P

    Great points for anyone – even those who went back to college multiple times (like me) because the economy has gone south more than once during my career. Although internships are difficult to get once out of school, networking and joining organizations are still valid options. There are many professional orgs out there, and they do not necessarily require a membership to attend their monthly meetings. The even better plus is that many of them operate through the help of volunteers. A volunteer position also looks good on a resume, and it opens the networking doors a little easier for those of us who have a difficult time “working the room.”

    • Aimee Fahey

      Good point on volunteering, but I’d disagree about internships being hard to get after college. From my experience (as a recruiter who has hired many non-students for internships), most folks out of college applying for internships don’t set their resumes up well, expect it to be a training program (i.e., they’ve not done anything to learn about the function they want to work in), or aren’t willing to take intern pay.

      Check out my post on Mac’s List last month for more about internships – 🙂

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