Don’t settle, search after graduation

By Kaitlyn DeHaven | Digital Managing Editor

As a senior, the stress of getting a well-paying job basically envelopes me. Every time someone asks, “Do you have a plan after college?” or “Where are you living after college?” my heart starts speeding up, and my hands begin to sweat as I think of the black hole that is currently my future.

I feel that most seniors feel this way — desperate for someone to say they’re worthy and to give them a picture of how their life will look after college. Despite these feelings, seniors should not jump at the first opportunity handed to them at the first career fair they visit or after their first interview.

It’s important that we know our worth — our strengths, our shortcomings. When looking at a career option, make sure you dig in and discover what the company is about, what your job specifically would be and how the company culture is. In the long run, these qualities will be far more important than any salary.

One of the first things you should do before you even go to an interview is to do your research on the company. Look for its mission statement — what are their goals? Discover its history and see if your values align with those of the company. If they do, you’ll be much less likely have to do something that you disagree with or become burnt out.

After this, come up with at least one solid question you can ask your potential employer about their company during your interview. This will not only show that you’ve done your research and care about who you are working for but will give you a better view of the company as well.

The second thing you should do as you’re looking for a job is to learn exactly what you’ll be doing at work. If you learn your job will be something that does not align with what you want to do, or want to do someday, it might be best to look for your work elsewhere. You might not be doing exactly what you want to be doing in 10 years right now, but your job should enable you to grow and teach you new skills along the way. If you spend your time making coffee and running errands when in reality you want to learn the ins-and-outs of mechanical engineering, you might be at the wrong workplace.

The last thing you should do before you accept a job is probably the hardest the accomplish, but is also extremely important. Assessing a company’s culture is vital before you accept your job, because if you end up in a hostile workplace, you won’t enjoy the 40 hours a week you will be spending at your place of work.

If you visit the company for your interview, pay attention while you’re there. Do the employees look like they enjoy their jobs? Is it too quiet for you? Too loud? Then, during your interview, go the extra mile and ask the interviewer how they would describe their workplace environment. One of the things I’ve found most important at my place of work is constructive criticism. I enjoy receiving constructive criticism before my final product is presented, so if I were to work at a workplace where constructive criticism was not usually presented, I might not work at my full potential.

Thinking back to my sweaty palms and anxiety-driven heartbeat, and those of every other senior who is looking for work, I hope that these stresses don’t drive me or anyone else to take a job where we are not comfortable, nor valued. You’ve worked for this, you deserve it, now go out and find it.