For those who graduated in May of this year, this month marks your six-month anniversary of leaving college. Congratulations—you survived! 2009 has been a tumultuous year for the economy, but all hope is not lost. Here are some ideas for how you can advance your career, with or without a full-time job:
- Visit the Career Center! You are eligible to use all Career Center resources for up to 18 months after graduation. Helpful services include resume review, job search advice, and assessments. Can’t make the trip to Ann Arbor? No problem. You can speak with a Career Advisor over the phone. Just call 734-764-7460 or visit our website to schedule an appointment.
- Browse the Career Center Connector, our online employment database, for job openings. If you don’t remember your password, simply click “Forgot Password” and one will be sent to your umich.edu email account. If you can no longer access that account, email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your uniqname, UMID, and current email address.
- Touch base with your contacts, including favorite faculty members, former supervisors, and fellow recent grads. Email is usually best for professional communication, but social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook can be used to reach out. Or, go the old-fashioned route and pick up a phone!
- Find (and utilize) a mentor. Anyone can be a mentor—a co-worker, family member, or close friend—as long as they have similar interests and goals. Turn to your mentor for advice, support, and as a resource for career tips. If you don’t have a mentor, check out the Alumni Association’s Mentoring Program.
- Take a temporary job to pass the time. View every job (even if it seems unrelated to your desired career) as an opportunity to gain valuable transferable skills, build your community, and make some money, too!
- Intern! Interning is definitely one of the most effective ways to explore career options. Not only are internships valuable professional experiences, they provide limitless opportunities to network. More importantly, many employers are turning their interns into full-time hires as a money-saving measure in this tight economy. For more information, view our blog posts about how to make the most of your internship experience.
- Volunteer with a local nonprofit and champion a cause you love. This is another great way to meet people and hone your skills. Much like an internship, a volunteer position may easily become a part- or full-time job.
- Commit to a year (or two) of service through programs like Americorps. These programs often offer full-time positions in a variety of settings, including schools and nonprofit organizations. They also provide extra benefits like health insurance, money for graduate school, and forgiveness of student loans.
I know what you’re thinking: developing a career during an economic recession is easier said than done. That’s true—but know that I am writing this from personal experience. I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2009 without a full-time job lined up. Instead, I took an internship through the University of Michigan’s Development Summer Internship Program (D-SIP). Though it was just a temporary position, it afforded me a long list of benefits that I never would have received otherwise. And in some ways, it led me to my first real job here at the Career Center. I think it’s safe to say that I was hired as a direct result of the skills I gained and the people I met through my internship. With that said, here’s a bonus tip: keep an open mind. Don’t be afraid to stray from the career path you originally set for yourself. Some of the best opportunities come unexpectedly—don’t let one pass you by!
The moral of the story is that graduating during an economic recession is less than ideal, but it is certainly not hopeless. Think about it this way: instead of taking a straight path from college to a full-time job, we are taking a few detours along the way. Consider it the scenic route and enjoy the ride while it lasts!
Class of 2009: Where are you now? Please feel free to comment here or fill out our First Destination survey (if you haven’t already). We want to hear your stories!