As I was scrolling through my Facebook Newsfeed recently, I came across a post that said “I used to think high schoolers were so grown up until I was one. I thought college kids were so cool and put together until I was one. I thought adults knew everything and now let me tell you… no one knows anything and we’re all out here “winging it!” No words read truer than this for someone who themselves are a recent grad.  New grads, it is time to start adulting and learning how to wing it.

The best piece of advice I can give to let the chips fall where they may. I am not saying sit around and wait for the opportunity to come around to you but do not force anything and do not stress about the opportunities that didn’t work out.  With that being said, here are a few tips and tricks I hope you find helpful.

  1. Be Yourself

In my opinion, this is the number one thing to remember when searching for a job. If you have to change who you are for a company or a hiring manager, it’s probably not where you should be. A quick example, I’m a little bit of a “country bumpkin” as my coworkers might say. I come from an Animal Science background, I was on a scholarship for college rodeo (yes that’s a thing), and the IT industry was something completely foreign to me. I didn’t know the difference between front-end/UI and back-end/server-side technologies.

Python was a type of snake, Ruby was a precious gem, Java was coffee, HTML was a bunch of random letters and numbers I copied and pasted on myspace back in the day.  Intersys knew my lack of knowledge and experience in the industry when they hired me, and, although I was lacking in some pretty key areas, I showed eagerness and initiative to take on a new challenge. I approached the opportunity with the drive and ability to learn quickly and a focus on being adaptable. Intersys saw value in what I could be and what I had to offer. The right company will appreciate you for who you are and what you can bring to the table, which brings me to my next tip…

  1. Know Your Value

Going off the first point I made, knowing your value and being confident in what you can bring to the table is just as important and goes hand in hand with being yourself. Every one of us has something great to offer whether we’ve discovered it or not. If you haven’t discovered it yet, now is the time! Inevitably, being a new grad you’re on the bottom of the totem pole. That’s not to say you can’t work your way up quicker than a bull out of the chute.  As a new grad, they’re not hiring you for your years of experience, they’re hiring you for your potential so know your potential and wow them with it!

  1. Know what you want

Go into your new opportunities knowing what you want out of them and where you want to take your career. Not everyone knows what they want straight out of college and that’s okay. I know I had no clue, but I took some time to figure it out. I’m not talking months or weeks, but take a day or two and write down some key things that are important to you along with some expectations of yourself in the next year or two. Expect that these things will change and that’s okay.  But, it’s good to have a starting point and know not only what you want for yourself, but what you want from the company you’ll be working for.

  1. They might be interviewing you, but you’re interviewing them too!

Interviews aren’t only for the company to get to know you, but it is also for you to get to know the company as well. The ball is not just in the company’s court. You have just as much power to walk away as the company does. Find the best fit for YOU. A company should want to help you make steps towards your goals and vice versa. My favorite thing to tell candidates is “let us help you grow while you help us grow.”

  1. Don’t settle for the first offer you get

To some, this might sound a little crazy and to others, it might be an obvious statement. Coming out of college and wanting to jump-start your career leaves you naturally eager and ready to take any opportunity that is thrown at you. Don’t! You owe it to yourself to explore your options. You’ve worked hard getting your degree, so don’t stop now. Get your resume out, grow your network, leverage your network, take every phone call you get, and follow through with each opportunity. Sometimes, the first choice is the best choice and sometimes, it isn’t. You don’t know until you explore your options.

If you find yourself thinking, “I knew exactly what to do but in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do.”  You’re not alone, Michael Scott felt the same way! Again, we’re all just out here “winging it”.

I will leave you with this… many will say your first job is just a small stepping stone in your life… but, it can be much more. Your first job can set you up for a lifetime of success. Choose wisely!

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