I had an interesting conversation last week with a representative from Kaplan University, which offers online degrees and distance learning programs, about job-seeking tips for 2010 college graduates. At the top of her list was being willing to relocate. My own addendum to that is being willing to relocate overseas.
Betsy Richards, Kaplan's director of personal brand strategy, told me that not a single student has asked her about employment opportunities outside of the U.S. She suggested the fact that what we hear in the news about what's happening overseas is typically negative might have something to do with that. But when I pursued the issue, she stressed that students should definitely not avoid going overseas:
There are opportunities that are overseas. In my experience what happens is an IT graduate gets an entry-level job, for instance, with Siemens-I actually worked with a student that this happened to. She accepted the position, and six months later they transferred her to Germany. So there are international opportunities, but usually within a company that's based in that country but also has operations in the United States, or vice-versa.
Richards added that Kaplan has seen an increase in enrollees in its School of Information Systems and Technology, despite the fact that students in general are often dissuaded from pursuing a career in IT due to concerns about job availability. She attributed that in part to the maturity of Kaplan's students, whose average age is 35.
Richards' other job-seeking tips for 2010 grads:
- Take a good look at small companies. "The big deal right now is the number of small, entrepreneurial companies that are opening. And they're hiring."
- Leave no stone unturned. While it's painful to admit, the perfect job will likely not fall into your lap immediately.
- Don't rely solely on your school's career center. While they'll provide tremendous support, go to both big and small job boards as well as niche sites. Follow professional organizations and career help websites via Twitter.
- Never discount the value of the smallest networking connection.
- Find jobs that need to be filled, and fill them. You'll broaden your skill set, but most importantly, you'll join the professional world, which will bring you one step closer to finding career satisfaction.
- Think broadly, but honestly about your skills. You want to think creatively, but realistically about what makes you desirable as a job candidate and where you might fit.
- Consider job openings that fit your skills but may not require your exact major or resemble the career you pictured for yourself.
- Gain experience in your desired field. Consider an internship, part-time or even volunteer work in your field.