The most stressful thing about graduating college is figuring out what your next step should be. Getting a job straight out of school isn’t easy — there are only so many entry-level jobs, and millions of college graduates.
So what’s the secret to jump-starting your career as soon as you’re done with school?
There isn’t any one particular answer, but Pat Wadors, the senior vice president of LinkedIn’s global talent organisation, emphasised that making connections is the best way to start getting real-world experience.
“Do your homework now,” Wadors said in an interview with Business Insider. “Get your connections done. And every opportunity you have to build that out, do so. It’s really, really important.”
Here are the biggest pieces of advice Wadors had to give:
- Don’t get hung up on the fact that you don’t have experience. It’s not about the job title or position, Wadors says. It’s about the experience — and if you don’t have any from the real world yet, that’s ok. You should think of the first decade of your career as “a journey,” according to Wadors. “It’s like backpacking through Europe,” she said. “Each job you do and skill you acquire is a stamp in your passport.”
- Go visit the companies you want to work for. If there’s a company you haven’t interned for that you want to eventually work for, try to introduce yourself. Asking the company if you could come see a tour of its facilities is one way to become acquainted with the people that work there. “Don’t say you’re looking for a job,” Wadors says. “You come there for the tour to make a connection.” Then, when you eventually reach out to inquire about internship or job opportunities, it’s more of a “warm and fuzzy” interaction rather than a “cold email” since you’ve already met at least some of the people that work there, Wadors says.
- It’s ok if you don’t know exactly what you want to do. Wadors acknowledges the fact that you’ll likely change your mind or switch paths when it comes to career choices. And there’s nothing wrong with that. “Recognise that you don’t have to have the career ladder your parents had,” Wadors said. “You don’t need to know what you’re going to be when you grow up. That’s someone else’s expectations of you, not your own.” She added that not every career change needs to be a literal step up — it can be a step sideways. “You will take lateral moves,” she said. “You will change industries. What you’re looking for isn’t a title; it’s an experience and skill. Don’t fixate on the title or incremental improvements.”
- Ask for feedback during your internships or first jobs. When you’re in school, you’re not used to asking for feedback often since teachers and professors grade you on your performance. There’s no rigorous grading system in the real world like there is in school, so it’s important to check in and make sure you’re meeting or exceeding expectations. “In the real world, you have to actually ask for feedback,” Wadors said. “And when you ask for feedback, you’re more willing to hear it.”
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.