Often we believe that getting a degree—having that paper in hand—is enough. But is it? Does graduating with a college degree prepare you for the rest of your career? Let me ask my question a little differently. When a student waves a diploma, does it have the same effect that a magic wand has? I can only speak for me in saying that none of my diplomas have ever created a Harry Potter-like moment. Nor have I heard of others’ degrees wielding that much power. So how is it that people expect magic to happen by simply waving their diploma?
I do believe a degree has value, so please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. But students fretfully contact me during their last semester because they don’t know what they’ll do post-graduation. While it’s never too late to examine your career, it takes more than a last semester sprint to decide what comes next. It’s unrealistic to disengage until you graduate in the hope that your career will magically happen later. It’s happening at this moment.
There’s nothing mystical about being prepared. The difference between students who are ready for their careers after graduation, and those who are unprepared, is how engaged they are in career planning. By that I mean actively exploring who you are, routinely examining the world of work, and taking actions to put things in order—so the choices you make are informed ones. Career planning is a process that unfolds through your lifetime, a series of choices, not a one-time decision after graduation. You’re making choices as we speak.
No doubt you will change over time, and so will the work we all do. Career planning takes consistent awareness of who you are and what you offer. It takes knowing existing industries and having job search proficiency. It takes considering alternatives, researching occupational information, and learning new skills. It takes action from you.
Even if we can’t foresee the future, right now we can anticipate some of what you’ll need after graduating. Do you want to get ahead or lag behind, beat somebody to it or have someone who is prepared beat you out? Are you engaged in your career planning or are you hoping something will happen once you have your degree? If you’re not sure, what are you going to do about it?
To learn more about World Campus Career Counseling and how we can help you, view this video.