From College to Career

Cole Armstrong



So now that you’re in college, and you found your passion somewhere between Picasso and Pavarotti, you love what you are learning, but you aren’t sure how you will earn a living when you’re done. You’ve taken a cursory glance at the world of employment, but the lack of openings for museum curators and theater directors has you unsure of just how to pay off those loans after you flip your tassel and toss your cap.

You worked hard, learned a great deal, and grew quite a bit as a person for four (or five, or six) years and now that you have a certified piece of paper that shows you have accomplished something major, you also have another piece of paper that shows exactly how much debt you incurred accomplishing this.

Now what?

One of the largest hurdles that many people face after graduating from college is landing their first professional job. At this crossroads some will resort back to their college jobs, like bartending or working in their hometown bookstore, while others were lucky, and diligent, enough to have a position already lined up for them. For the rest of us, finding your first professional job is a matter of timing, networking and determination that will ultimately will help you get your foot in the door.

Before you begin the process of creating or updating your resume, submitting hundreds of online applications that will most likely be ignored, and asking your friends to help you get a job at Google or Apple, take a step back, and ask yourself these key questions:

  • What do I actually want to do?
  • What skills sets do I possesses?
  • What set of skills do I want to improve?
These are not questions for interview preparation, but rather questions for self-reflection that will help you find your way to the first professional job opportunity that will kick start your career. If you aren’t sure of the answers to the second question, ask your classmates or professors. You might be surprised to find out just how many skills you have, and they can help guide you towards improving the skills you want to grow.

A completely different industry can be your ticket to success, if you choose the right internship.

If you are not entirely sure about the answers to these questions, consider applying to an internship that will help you practice, refine, and develop many of these skills. Even if you are making little to no pay, an internship is a great first step in your career. An internship will give you an opportunity dip your toe in the water, and if it is a little too cold for your blood, step back and find a new swimming hole. If it feels like a good fit for you, then you are already on your way, as many internships will open the door for a job opportunity.

I wasn’t always interested in marketing, myself. In fact, I majored in music production at one of California’s state colleges. When I did an internship in the music business I learned a few things. The two most important things were that it’s unbelievably amazing how much talent some musicians have, and that it’s even more unbelievable how much time I spent doing work that had absolutely nothing to do with producing music.

I now had a better picture of what I was good at, and what I actually wanted to do. I packed up my things and headed north from sunny Los Angeles, and found another internship at startup in Palo Alto. I was making less than minimum wage for my first 3 months, but I had embarked on a career path that not only sparked my interest, but took advantage of some of my best assets. I was able to use my past skill sets and develop new ones that complimented my college education quite nicely. Ultimately, I was offered a full time position and my first professional job was underway. It took me nearly eighteen months after graduating to get to this point, but I was where I wanted to be.

From what I have gathered from friends and colleagues it is not uncommon for it to take upwards of a year for a new grad to land their first job. Don’t get discourage and keep your eye on what it is that you actually want to do. Timing, networking and determination will help you find the right opportunity to start your career.

WPS Office can help you with this process, as you make the first steps in your transition from life of the party to Chairperson of the Board. Use the tabbed viewing feature in Writer to help you edit and polish a couple variations of your resume, and cover letter template, for each industry you are applying to. Use Spreadsheets to track the companies, positions, and dates that you have applied to, as well as follow up letter tracking, and interview notes. And, finally, use Presentation to add that extra pop to your submissions. In today’s workplace, a well-designed and engaging presentation is a powerful tool, and it may be the ticket to getting your foot in the door.

For more tips, guides, and information on using WPS Office, please visit our Online Knowledge Base.