All throughout our lives up until graduating college, we're told exactly what to do.
Sure, we pick classes and everything. But we know what grades we need to do x and the classes we need for y. Things are very specific. Everyone has it laid out neatly for us.
Now that you're out of college, you've probably come to the realization that the "real world" doesn't come with a syllabus. It's up to you to decide what direction your life takes. Sounds terrifying? What if I told it doesn't have to be.
I've discovered post grad life to be the single-most liberating and exhilarating time of my life by creating and following a simple plan. Below are my thoughts on how to plot your own direction.
Before everything, know thyself
Ask any architect and they will tell you the most important aspect of design isn't the structure: It's the foundation. Knowing thyself (i.e. likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses) is the foundation for a fulfilling life and career. Below are a list of questions that will help you get to know thyself.
- When are you at your best (e.g. working alone with strict guidelines, working in a team with minimal direction, etc.)?
- If money wasn't really an issue, what productive things would you do (or attempt to do)?
- What is something that you love so much that you'd almost do for free (“I can't believe they'd pay me to do this!”)?
- What does you perfect working environment look like (people, physical location, atmosphere, etc.)?
- What are your biggest strengths? And when are you out of your element?
Next, figure out your goals
Start writing down your goals at least for one year from now and three years from now. I recommend a Google Spreadsheet so it's always available to you online and easy to change. There isn't a right or wrong way to live; we all have our priorities. Writing down these goals just helps give us get more clarity on where we want to be, which will help us figure out how to get there. Need more help setting your goals? Check out the concept of SMART goals.
Finally, take action
The time has arrived to find that perfect job. Below I've highlighted the best resources for job seekers along with a bullet proof action plan to full-time employment.
- Search job titles that mesh with your personality type on career sites like Indeed and SimplyHired to see get an idea of what is out there. Pick a few job titles that sound like they'd work with your personality/strengths, research a few companies that sound interesting to you (industry, culture, size, etc.), and go from there. The best site for researching companies is Glassdoor, where you can find reviews, salaries for various positions, and even interview information. All of this research should help give you some starting points to work from. You'll gain significantly more clarity after actually talking with people.
- Visit your college's career center and chat with your professors. At every college (or so I figure), there is a department dedicated to career counseling. They are often very helpful and can provide a ton of direction. They can often help you with your resume, as well.
- Check out your college's job board.
Did you find this article helpful in finding direction for you life? Tell us in the comments below. I'll be back next week to discuss building a professional image.