A-Z Index Statewide zzusis WSU Home

Washington State University

Wellbeing Online

Washington State University

Wellbeing Online

Next Step Career Planning

Next Step Career

You're about to graduate.....Then what? 

Many graduates face questions like, "Have you found a job yet?" or, "What is your plan?" When contemplating answers to these questions  recent graduates feel lost without a plan. You don't have to be lost or confused. Take the next few minutes to tune in to the strategy suggested below and find resources to help you answer those tough questions. 

Game Plan

Professional career counselors agree that there are a few simple steps to developing a personal career path. 

Step One-The first part of this journey is self-awareness. Take a beat to reflect on these following questions.

  • What motivates you? 
  • What have been you major accomplishments? 
  • What are your professional strengths and weaknesses? 
  • What have I enjoyed and disliked about past work experiences? 

Step Two- Contact a career counselor. As a WSU student or Alumni you have access to the Academic Success and Career Center. The specially trained career counselors can help you increase self-understanding, workforce know-how and professional decision making skills. They also offer career assesments that will identify your personal interest, values, skills and personality. Another free resource is the FOCUS 2  website. To obtain the access code for the FOCUS 2 please send an email to ascc@wsu.edu with the subject line: “FOCUS 2.”

Talking with a career counselor and completing online assesments should help you explore the questions listed below. This is also a great time to examine career ideas within your assessment results and review labor market projections for specific jobs. 

  • What broad career categories am I best suited to? Why?
  • Are any of these of interest?
  • Which ones surprise you?
  • Which ones did you expect to show up?

Step Three- Focus on your primary career plan and investigate how this choice will meet your requirements for work conditions, values, schedule, family plans, financial goals, and similar factors. Working closely with an Academic Success and Career counselor can be incredibly helpful as you explore. 

  • Analyze each career field to determine specific jobs that meet your interests, abilities, and values.
  • Which ones meet your expectations in terms of work conditions, hours, knowledge required, salary, benefits, challenges, and opportunities for advancement?
  • Investigate job projections for your top choices by looking at labor market conditions, rates of pay, and job creation statistics-how do your choices measure up?
  • Investigate existing employment options with different employers. What do they require and will your training provide you with the minimum requirements?
  • How much risk are you willing to take in choosing a pathway?
  • What is your next career step if you choose a particular path over another?
  • Will you need additional training and what time frame are you going to have to commit to? 

Step Four- Create an action plan and timeline. Up to this point the most of your energy has been focused on research and collaboration with a career counselor. Check out some of the tips below to help you start your job search. 

  • Create a working timeline for your desired entry into the workforce.
  • Will you want to start working right away or take a break?
  • Take a serious look at your finances and find options that will foster success. The loan grace period is time limited, find options for repayment.
  • Examine deadlines for applying to specific jobs.
  • Read job listings and application requirements carefully!
  • Consult with your career counselor for feedback on your resume, personal statement
  • Approach professional and personal refrences before using them. 
  • Attend a mock interview and etiquette skills workshop if available. 
  • Have all important documentation organized and ready to provide to potential employers. 
  • Set goals for reaching each stage of the application process to the jobs you have chosen.
  • Plan to take any entrance tests and further training that is required and allow time to prepare.
  • Identify your short term career goals and where you want to be in 5 years.
  • Obtain a professional outfit that can be worn to an interview
  • During your job search add to your resume by volunteering and interning
  • Examine your social media presence and design it to reflect your professional values. 
  • Identify any hurdles or barriers that could pose a problem for your acceptance. 
  • Ask for help if you are struggling. 

Life after graduation can be intimidating. With a solid plan and the support of family, friends and a savvy career counselor anything can happen.