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  • Writer's picture The Vindicator

You’re Graduating, What Now?

A step-by-step process of the job hunt.


Written by Campbell Pratt




You graduated last semester. Or maybe your walk date is at the end of the spring. Or maybe your senior year is creeping up. No matter when you get handed your diploma, the feeling of being done — or close to it — is terrifying. We’ve spent almost our entire lives in structured and meticulously-planned schedules, with somebody else in charge of our day-to-day.


There’s an entire world of adventure in the palm of your hands. Who knows where you can go? At the end of the day, your plans can take you somewhere you couldn’t have even imagined. Coming from somebody who has back-up plans from A to Z (or more like E, to be completely honest), I’m willing to accept going off the beaten path — but I would like to have an idea of where I’m going. For me, I’m in the process of applying to graduate school and grown-up jobs (clarifier: a weekday 9 to 5 with benefits).


Both processes are scary. One has more resources than the other, though. There’s so many guides to applying for graduate school. CSU Career Services and the English department faculty have always been reliable people when I’ve asked them for advice. Getting a job, though? Yikes. Googling job advice leads to fear-mongering Reddit posts and corporate recruiters offering their services. From somebody on the job market, here’s my advice.


  • Job Boards: Everything is digital. Work with it. Indeed will have the most options, but that’s more difficult to parse through if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Handshake and LinkedIn are going to have more personalized positions, but make sure to filter out unpaid internships and part time work. With Handshake, I’ve also noticed a lot of temporary positions. Career coach Liora Alvarez has a database of inclusive job boards for minority and marginalized applicants, organized by industry. When you’re applying, make sure you have professional references! Applications ask for two to three references to account for your character. 

  • Cover Letters: They take so long to write. They’re so boring. Nobody likes cover letters, but it’s one of the first things you should do. Pick two or three qualifications from the job posting to highlight in relation to your experience in your cover letter. 

  • Resume: A resume is not your curriculum vitae. While extensively reporting your academic history and accomplishments are important to your CV, a lengthy resume will kill your application. Resumes are recommended to be one to two pages, so utilize all the space you can when you’re formatting. Google Docs and Microsoft Word both have templates if you’re unsure where to start. What you absolutely need to include will be prior experience — whether that’s long-term retail positions, residencies or internships —and your skills. This is where you’re going to list your hard skills (tasks you’ve learned to perform through school or previous experience) and your soft skills (personal attributes that make you a more desirable candidate). Some of the proficiencies I list are data curation, Microsoft Excel, time management and empathetic communication. The first two would be hard skills, and the last two are soft skills. Make sure you’re writing your resume in a Serif font with readable sizes. You can use color for headers, but the bulk of your resume should be in black text.

  • Interview: You did it! You’ve got an interview. This is your time to make an impression. Make sure you’re dressed in clean professional clothes (I typically go for slacks and a sweater for in-person, or a button-up for remote), and you’ve done the proper self-care prior. Be prepared for the interviewer’s questions. You should have a detailed answer describing your previous work experience, why you fit the role you applied for, and questions about your working habits and values. They may ask you about conflict-resolution, in either reference to your previous positions or the position you’ve applied for. At the end of your interview, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. It’s customary to have one or two questions about the company, or the interviewer themself. It’s okay not to have a question — in my last interview, I was so eager about the position that I forgot to prepare a question, and it caught me off-guard. This is avoidable with the proper interview preparation!

  • Post-Interview: Send a thank-you note to your interviewer. A handwritten note would be lovely, but an email is good, too! Thank them for their time. Reference a talking point they made during your interview. Explain in one or two sentences why you’re a qualified applicant, but make sure it’s something that was brought up by either yourself or the interviewer. Finish up on a short sentence making yourself available if needed during their decision-making process. It’s a little old fashioned, but it sets a good tone moving forward. 


Figuring out what you want to do without the constraints of school is scary. Applying for jobs will be even scarier. We’ve spent so much time having our lives planned out in front of us that having control over what we do is almost unimaginably intimidating. Remember this: your worth is not determined by the rejections you’ll face as an entry level applicant, or a bad interview, or a job offer you’re not excited about. You’ll find your way in your own time. All you can do is breathe, make sure your application materials are in order and wait it out.

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