It is almost summer, and the end of another school year is coming up! For some, this might be your last semester before graduating. If you still need to, this is the time to reflect on your educational experience and begin planning your next steps. What are your immediate plans after graduation? Are you thinking of applying to graduate school and furthering your education? Do you want to go straight into the workforce and land a job? Would you like to take a gap year and travel?
Planning for Graduate School
A post-graduate degree is an opportunity to advance your knowledge in a specific discipline and gain in-depth information that will allow you to become an expert in your field. For some, enrolling and completing a graduate program is necessary for their intended career, while a bachelor’s degree will suffice for others. Whatever your reasons may be for going to graduate school, here are some questions you want to ask yourself:
- What necessary educational qualifications or specialization do I need for my career?
- Do I have the financial resources to commit to a graduate program?
- What are the admission requirements for my graduate program(s)? GRE? GMAT?
Here are some resources you might find helpful in planning for Graduate School:
- How to Prepare for Graduate School
- How to Choose a Graduate Program
- Your Search for Graduate School Starts Here
- Find your Dream Graduate School
Starting your Job Search
If you are graduating this semester and hope to land a job as soon as possible, you first need to consider your location. Do you want to stay in Los Angeles/California, or are you considering relocating? Where you are willing to work can significantly narrow your options but ensure you are located where you see fit to live. Whether you stay or relocate, you should start preparing for your job search!
- Put your resume together: Your resume must reflect relevant experiences and highlight the necessary skills and qualifications for the job. While havinge a general resume for your specific industry is good, you must also tailor ite to each position you are applying for. Using the verbiage and incorporating the themes emphasized in the job posting is good practice. Refer to the following resources available at the USC Career Center to help you with your resume:
- Start or update your resume by reviewing the USC Career Center’s Guide to Effective Resumes, Cover Letters, and LinkedIn Profiles.
- Get immediate feedback on your most updated resume through the 24/7 AI resume critique tool, VMock’s Smart Resume.
- Practice interviewing: An interview is your opportunity to tell your story and highlight your strengths and qualification related to the position you are applying for. It is essential that you practice so you are comfortable and confident during your interview. An interview is also a two-way street. The hiring agents are determining if you are a good fit for their organization, but you should also be thinking about the same thing. Do I see myself in this work environment? Do I like their training processes? How will this benefit my professional growth? Refer to the following resources available at the USC Career Center to help you with practicing for interviews:
- Make your following interview your best interview by utilizing Big Interview, a powerful AI-enhanced tool that gives you 24/7 access to interactive interview practice opportunities tailored specifically to your industry, job, and experience level.
- Learn about different types of interviews, how to prepare for an interview, tips on how to answer behavioral questions, how to follow up after an interview, and more by visiting the USC Career Center webpage on Interview Preparation.
- Want to practice interviewing with someone? Schedule an appointment with one of our Career Advisors at the USC Career Center through connectSC to receive feedback on your interviewing skills and how to answer interview questions better.
- Gather 3-4 references: Professional references allow hiring agents to verify your qualifications in your resume and your answers from the interview. It also allows the hiring agents to learn more about your work habits/ethics and personality. It is important that you choose people who can attest to your abilities and have seen your professional dispositions in play, as this may be the determining factor for the hiring agents in teetering between you and another candidate. People who you might consider asking as references:
- Bosses or co-workers from previous/current job
- Supervisors or coaches from organizations/clubs
- Professor or academic advisor from school
- Begin search: Dedicate time to navigating different job platforms and officially begin your job search! With finals and graduation coming up, figure out a manageable time and realistic goal while still honoring your responsibilities and well-being. Below are some job search platforms you can use to begin your search:
Job Search Platforms for USC Students
- connectSC: Job search portal for jobs and personalized recommendations.
- Trojan Network: The “Opportunities” tab provides jobs, internships, and other professional opportunities. You may also conduct informational interviews with USC alumni and expand your network!
- CareerShift: Includes millions of jobs and contacts for networking, tap into the hidden job market, and identify recruiters from diverse organizations and industries.
- Interstride: An interactive career platform designed by international students to enhance career exploration and job-search experience for international students.
- GoinGlobal: Provides career information regarding working in different locations in the United States and abroad. Great platform for international students.
- Handshake: A supplemental job-listing portal available for USC students and Alumni.
Other Common Job Search Platforms
Note: When determining the job search platforms you want to use, make sure you are wary of potential fraudulent platforms.
A gap year is a year off between graduating from undergraduate and starting graduate school or pursuing a job. There are various reasons why students may take a gap year. Some would like to work and earn some money before going to graduate school, while some might want to use the time to travel. Whatever your reasons, this is also a great time to increase your professional development and personal networks. Check out the USC Career Center’s page on Gap Year preparation to view some options on what you might want to do during your gap year and the Gap Year Association’s guide for tips on planning a successful gap year.
Enjoy the time you have
While you need to be prepared for your next steps after graduation, you should also enjoy the time you have left at USC. Graduation is a momentous event, so make it memorable before closing this chapter of your life. Savor every moment with your friends, classmates, roommates, colleagues, professors, and advisors.
The pressure of figuring out your next plan is daunting, but remember this is a personal journey. Don’t rush into a career, and don’t settle for the wrong fit in the fear of being “left behind.” Find a job that you will enjoy while also being surrounded by people who can enrich your work experience and contribute to your career development.
If you require further support in any topics discussed in this article, please do not hesitate to reach out! You may schedule 30-minute advising appointments with one of our Career Advisors through connectSC or stop by during our drop-in hours at the USC Career Center (STU 110) to discuss your questions or concerns. On behalf of all the USC Career Center staff, we wish you a happy graduation!