What Do I Do After Graduation? The Power of Networking
Go travel, spend time with family and friends and have some fun! Then, it’s time to be an adult, put your quality education to good use and start paying the bills. It can be a daunting time looking for your first real job but also an exciting one. And if done thoughtfully, the decisions you make here will lay the foundation for a successful career doing what you love and doing it well.
I am honored to be conducting a webinar for my college alma mater, Penn State, in September. The dialogue will be around “How to Navigate a Candidate’s Market” and as I begin to prepare for it, I have been thinking a lot about my experience from college student to job candidate to business professional.
Between freshman and senior year, I went from studying marketing to finance to commercial real estate, the latter being my ultimate calling and what, as many of you know, I am immersed in today. I bounced around for a bit but my journey to finding my dream career fortunately came to me relatively quickly. And I think it is because of something I was taught to embrace early in my college and professional life: The power of networking.
Your network is your continuing education and where your professional growth continues
It’s never too early to network and create a community of genuine relationships that will propel you in your professional life. Think of these people you meet and the relationships you nurture with them as your support system. They are the colleagues, mentors, bosses, team members, employees and college friends who will directly and indirectly influence your career path, educate you about your industry and role of choice and ultimately refer you to relevant opportunities. Your network will open doors you may have not even known existed.
When I embarked on the endeavor of creating my own real estate recruitment company, I spoke with anyone and everyone, especially in the commercial real estate world. This curiosity and desire to understand each person’s role in the industry and what motivated them gave me the clarity I needed to confirm it was exactly what I wanted to do for a living.
Your network will help you be your best self
When you spend time with your network, it’s also a check in with you. Where are you in your career and where do you want to go next? Oftentimes we go to college or specific schooling not truly knowing what we want to study and do for the rest of our lives, me included! And unfortunately, some high-potential students graduate with the same uncertainty. You’re not alone if you are one of them.
Around the time of my graduation, my created network suggested I take a personality assessment to identify my personality type and help me validate my interests, aptitudes and quite frankly what I was probably not going to be good at. It was invaluable. My network also referred me to two of my now favorite books: Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath and What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles. I highly recommend both!
Your network is your group of trusted advisors. Follow in their footsteps. Seek their advice. Ask for help when you need it to make a hard decision. Be inspired by them. They will celebrate your successes and hold you accountable to always be the best you can be now and in the years to come. I am grateful for mine.
Congratulations to all of the graduates out there! Your next chapter has just begun. All the best in the endeavors that await you!