When I graduated from Northeastern in 2010, I had to take time off from two jobs so that I could actually attend my graduation ceremony. That time in my life was, in a word, overscheduled. One of the things I’m grateful for in hindsight was that I didn’t have time to really think about (and become terrified of) the fact that I was jumping into the real world. There are plenty of things that I wish I had known back then, so I was thrilled to take part in this series and offer whatever help I can.
Making an effort to seek out advice from people you admire is a great place to start after graduation, so in that spirit, the first idea I’ll offer up comes from a former colleague. Your social media presence is your resume. This was a favorite piece of advice from a stellar former social media editor at the Globe, and it’s a good one (not in every field, but in quite a lot of them). You’ve all heard the warnings about posting your party selfies and making inappropriate jokes online. But turn the warning on its head and it’s also true: You can show potential employers what you can do before you’ve even applied for a position.
This wasn’t possible ten years ago in the same way it is now, so take advantage of it. Post frequently about what you’re working on. Reach out and talk to people in your field. You have the ability to make an impression without having to go to those awkward networking events (although they help, too).
Writing in college is much different from writing at work. One of my favorite parts of graduating was saying goodbye to those 10+ page research papers. However, at many workplaces, documents are measured in words, not pages, and suddenly all of that effort you used to put into squeezing extra words into your sentences is working against you. Being able to get the most bang out of your paragraph is a great skill to have as you search for jobs. My advice for honing this skill is to continually rewrite your cover letters and other professional documents until you can get your point across in as few words as possible.
Not really sure where to start? It’s okay to have no idea what you want to do in life. Does it help to have a polished answer ready when your interviewer asks the dreaded “five year plan” question? Absolutely! But in my experience, not having a predetermined goal can also mean being open to unexpected opportunities and being eager to learn new skills.
I couldn’t even pick a major in college–I graduated with two. And so I found myself during college and immediately after graduation trying on a lot of hats. One of those hats, a part-time gig helping my former co-op launch a new website, turned into a full-time job that allowed me to try on even more hats. I jumped at whatever project came my way at that job, and eventually became the web editor of the organization’s publication, CommonWealth magazine. That role eventually led me to a job that I love today: a homepage producer for bostonglobe.com. My point is that if you find yourself looking for direction, it helps to jump at as many opportunities as you possibly can. Many absolutely won’t pan out, but some will.
Post-grad life can be stressful and challenging and not at all what you expected, but it’s really just the best. Congratulations on getting there, and don’t forget to enjoy it.
Christina Prignano is a homepage producer at bostonglobe.com and is a 2010 graduate of Northeastern. She majored in political science and journalism and sometimes wishes she still lived near Penguin Pizza. She can be reached on Twitter at @cprignano.