This Is How to Choose Your First Job After College

Are you a soon-to-be a college graduate or maybe a recent one ready to begin the nerve-racking task of looking for your first job?

If yes, then you might want to continue reading.

The first thing you need to do during this confusing time is think.

Think about what you want, where you want to be in your professional life, what are your future plans. Also what kind of a work environment you are looking for. Once you have an idea of the direction you want your career to take, then you can begin the process of short listing.

Here are a few things that might help you choose your first job:

Don’t let the pressure get the best of you

It is true that no one wants to be unemployed. However, that does not mean that you pounce on the first offer you get. Quite often, fresh graduates, or soon-to-be graduates feel pressured by parents, relatives, peers and sometimes even themselves, into getting jobs before or right after graduation. The questioning looks can cause great stress and might pressure you into accepting a job that is really not meant for you. Instead, take a step back and think about what you want, whether the job being offered to you is the kind that can help you achieve your career goals or not.

Define your interests

Depending on your degree, you need to outline the kind of jobs you want. Try and define the perfect job and then look for the one closest to it. For this, you might want to take some career tests offered by the career advisory office in college. Once you’ve figured out what interests you, what you can do well, what kind of personality you have and what is really important to you, you can begin looking for your first job.

"When choosing your first job, it's important to stick within your dream industry so you can get your foot in the door! If you know what it is you want to do in the long run then search for jobs that will supplement your resumé and help you climb the ladder."

Amanda Thomas


Consider different career options

Let’s look at an example here. Suppose you’ve majored in marketing and you want to find employment in the dairy products sector at managerial level. This is a very specific definition of what you want. In such a case where you are very particular about what you want, make sure you keep two or three back up options. There is a strong likelihood that you might not get exactly what you want, but by having several options, you will give yourself a wider field to play on.

Get your priorities straight in every sense

Just knowing what you want in terms of the nature of the job is not enough. You need to invest the right amount of time in figuring out your preferences. This will be in regards to location, whether you’d be willing to relocate or not, how much travelling does the job itself involve, whether you want to work in the corporate sector or not, whether you want to work with a startup or a well-established firm and what is the minimum salary you would be willing to work for. And top of everything what kind of office timings are you looking for. Many fresh graduates tend to overlook these since they are so bent on just getting a job as quickly as possible. However, you are advised to give serious thought to all such questions as they will eventually determine whether you’ll be happy at your new job or not. Just because an organization is offering you an impressive compensation package does not mean it is ok to accept a bad working environment. Make sure you strike the right balance.

This is what a Scholarship Search Strategist said:

"My advice to new college graduates is to focus on desired career field even if the pay is a little lower. Graduates can use this initial job to develop key skills in their industry and work their way up to higher paying positions."

Ashley Hill
Scholarship Search Strategist


Here’s Lauren McAdams:

"Hopefully you've given your career some thought before you get your degree. Many recent grads study for a specific career, have had internships, etc. Still, even if you know what your career is to be, you may not be sure how to pick a company. The answer - the one you will feel most satisfied walking into every day. A lot of entry-level employees make the mistake of going for the highest salary, but find themselves at companies that don't treat them well, or that don't have futures, or that overwork them. Careers are a marathon, not a sprint, and if you're good at your job higher salaries will follow. Find a company where you will feel comfortable both in your own skin and in the office."

Lauren McAdams


Ask questions

When stepping into the professional world, it is alright to have a million questions. More often than not, the soon to be employed do not even know what to ask. This causes fresh graduates to end up in jobs they don’t want in the first place. All because they didn’t ask the right questions at the start and did not gauge what the job really entailed. While the job description (JD) can be informative, it is always recommended to ask any questions you have about the kind of professional and personal growth you can expect and where it can take you in a few years. Many fresh graduates have no idea what kind of questions they need to ask which would give them a genuine insight into what exactly they’re signing up for. The more questions you ask, the more you will know and the better-informed your entire decision making process will be.

Pay attention to the office culture

Work environment should be a very important factor when looking for any job. There is no point in signing up with a team you won’t get along with. This is something many fresh graduates do not even think they need to consider. Your first job will play a huge role in preparing you for subsequent job switches and career advancement opportunities. Make sure you choose a work environment that can contribute positively to your growth.

Make sure you have a plan

It is very common for fresh graduates to jump into a new job without giving much thought to where it will take them in a few years. Career planning is very important and it needs to start at the very beginning. Make a 5-year, 10-year, and 15-year plan and make sure you stay on track. Even though it is scary to peek into an uncertain future, it is very important to at least ensure you are headed in the right direction. Therefore, invest the right amount of time in planning a career path that you would ideally like to stick to for years to come. Even though this plan may change several times over the years, having a basic idea of where you want to end up is important.

Create a LinkedIn Profile

This is something you should do as early as your senior year in high school. Even if the profile is practically empty at the start, it will help you get in touch with real professionals who can provide you with genuine insights. Do include any experience you have so far, including summer camp, internships, volunteer work even babysitting. These would show that you have the ability to take responsibility and manage multiple tasks at the same time. As you gather more experience, you can update your LinkedIn profile and add new experiences.

While your first job will not be your last one, keep in mind that it is still a very important stepping stone. So think before you make this decision and do not rush into anything.

Here’s Billie Jean Bateson summing it up:

  • The first job determines the way of your career, and you gain your work habits.
  • How to choose your first job depends on what you want exactly.
  • Good job does not always offer a good salary, but what you will get there.
  • Continuing education and training
  • Experience
  • Business contacts
  • Also, it is not necessary for your first job to provide long-term security
    (you will get something more important: knowledge and experience).
  • If you want to get a job in a particular industry for which you are
    trained, try to volunteer at a company in this industry.
  • Don’t forget to ask yourself these questions
    • What are you going to get out of there?
    • What kind of knowledge you will gain?
    • What experience you will gain?
    • Will you find your dream job with your gained knowledge and experience?

Billie Jean Bateson



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