Q&A with UOPX Career Services
Haley Foutch and Alice Rush share insights to help students transition from education to career
College graduates often feel immense pride upon completing their degree and earning a diploma. But many are unsure of how to find a job after they’ve graduated.
Haley Foutch, senior manager of mentorship & networking programs, and Alice Rush, certified career counselor, work in the University’s Department of Career Services and often help provide students with guidance on how to prepare for the transition from being a student to an employee.
Foutch and Rush shared their insights on next steps for college grads who are looking to promote themselves.
How should a graduate who is currently an employee promote their new degree at work in hopes of potential career enhancement?
Foutch: It’s important to demonstrate the difference their education has made. Graduates should consider how their new degree can add to their individual and team performance. As students gain skills and knowledge in school, they should put those to use in the workplace and prove their value to make themselves indispensable.
Rush: Once a student finishes his or her degree, it’s really up to the student to schedule a face-to-face meeting with their manager and initiate a professional development coaching session with their boss.
Graduates should consider asking their boss for their opinion on any additional skill or experience gaps necessary to move into the next role. Next, schedule an appointment with human resources (HR) to ask them for a current position description of the skills experience and education needed for the new role.
If a recent graduate wants to change jobs because of their new earned degree and skills, how can they best do that?
Foutch: Recent graduates may still feel uncertainty regarding their career paths, so the first thing to do is gain clarity regarding short and long-term goals and what is needed to reach them. Once they have some specific jobs and/or companies in mind, add education and newly gained skills to resumes, LinkedIn and other branding vehicles.
This is part of building a personal brand, which also includes an elevator pitch and the way they describe themselves professionally. Additionally, graduates need to reach out to their networks to update them on what’s new and how they want to put their education to use.
Rush: The most central resource for making an external job change is through using the professional association related to the new career goal. Seek out opportunities to serve on the board of directors for greater visibility and to launch a new professional network quickly. Consider joining their mentoring program and job club, and request a directory of members to help set up informational interviews with members who worked in the organizations they want to work for.
Recent graduates may still feel uncertainty regarding their career paths, so the first thing to do is gain clarity regarding short and long-term goals and what is needed to reach them.
— Haley Foutch
UOPX Career Services
Beyond internships, how can further networking occur for those who are already working and just finished their degree?
Foutch: New graduates should be strategic about the networking opportunities in which they partake, particularly if they are already working and limited on time. I would recommend starting with the graduate’s existing network and seek out networking events that are specific to career field, such as those put on by professional associations.
Graduates can also use job descriptions as a guide as they seek out further skills and knowledge. They should look for skills that are consistently coming up as desirable or required and prioritize a list of skills to work on. If the graduate finds that a deeper level of skill or broader range of knowledge is necessary, they may want to consider taking individual college courses as opposed to shorter courses.
Rush: Beyond internships, graduates should consider volunteer work, “entry level” and trainee jobs and consider temp staffing agencies that have contracts with companies they want to work for. Once you find those roles, register with them for temp to perm or direct hire positions.
For example, someone with an IT degree who wants to get into IT job within a hospital, may consider volunteering at a hospital one day a week. This may help with familiarity with the role and organization while gaining experience.
What online resources (websites, apps, social media tips) would you recommend?
Foutch: Search the Professional Association Finder on Career One Stop sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, to find relevant professional associations. Also, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will have labor market information to help as they research things like salary.
Rush: If you’ve created a target list of employers, go on LinkedIn and do a double filter search. Search those people you know who work at the companies you want to work with and who also went to your same college.
Also consider ‘following’ the companies you want to work for on LinkedIn. If you’ve selected “seeking a job” while also “following specific companies,” recruiters will know to contact you for open positions.