Potential Career-Enhancing Options for New Grads

It’s the time of year new college grads are looking for jobs. And even though the economy is good, there aren’t any guarantees these young adults will land a job immediately after picking up their diplomas. If a recent grad can’t find work in his or her chosen field right away, what are the smartest steps he or she can take from a career perspective?

Who better to address this question than a college professor with more than two decades of experience working with undergraduate and graduate level business students?

That’s why I reached out to Professor Steven Cates, a key business faculty member at Purdue University Global, who said there are several viable, potentially career-enhancing options new college grads can consider “when their dream job has eluded them.”

1. Secure an internship.

Yes, internships work even post-graduation! Cates calls internships “a highly valued strategy” that will give college grads the chance to learn “real world applications that support their educational endeavors.” This, he says, “is experience that all employers are looking for and may differentiate the candidate from those who have no real-world experience.”

2. Tap recruitment agencies for temp jobs.

The benefits of this strategy are two-fold. First, companies often use recruitment firms to help them determine “the qualifications, motivations, and cultural fit of the temporary employee,” Cates explains. “This has a high probability of leading to a permanent job offer for the new grad.”

Second, if a job offer isn’t made — or if it isn’t one the young professional is looking for — the temp job still will have provided real world experience and given the recent grad more skills to add to their resume, Cates notes.

3. Focus on service.

Whether they’re not quite ready to commit to a career or simply can’t find the right position right away, committing to a stint with a local or national volunteer or service organization like AmeriCorps is an option that new grads should explore, especially if they have what Cates calls “a calling for service to others or believes there is a cause that needs to be met and fulfilled.”

According to Cates, there is one caveat: “The time spent away in service to others is time not spent gaining relevant experience in their chosen career fields.” That, of course, depends on the type of service and the graduate’s ultimate career goal. But no matter what, if it is something someone feels strongly about, that “time away” shouldn’t prevent them from serving. As Cates says, “…in the long-run this may not make much difference.”

4. Head back to the classroom.

Not everyone wants or needs an advanced degree. But as Cates points out, it can be beneficial over time. “The additional education may place the candidate in position to be considered for jobs that would be more advanced than those sought earlier with an undergraduate degree,” he says. In fact, it may ultimately lead to a job that would not have been available had the new grad accepted a position right out of school and tried to work this or her way up the career ladder, Cates says.


(Article written by Kathleen Furore)