When I asked our faculty and staff what advice they had for graduating seniors, most of the answers actually applied to sophomores and juniors. That should tell you something. Planning for life after college graduation starts far before your last semester.

Building that plan, even if it’s loose, is very important. It starts with little things like keeping up with your participation in organizations and volunteer work, starting a LinkedIn account, regularly updating your resume, seeking out internships and shadowing opportunities, and talking to people who work in your field of interest. That’s why universities provide so many career fairs, networking luncheons, professional speakers, and more. We want to enable you to do the work that needs to be done to start your career. We can give you a great education, but we can’t actually get you that first job. You need to take responsibility for yourself and your future.

Our faculty and staff at HBU provided some great advice for preparing for graduation and your life after college. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read their words of wisdom.

Dr. David Davis in the School of Humanities gave some simple advice I think all students need to hear multiple times – “Be patient and relentless with the job search, and don’t expect the ‘dream job’ right out of college.”

Start building your resume on day one.

Beginning as a freshman, keep a list of clubs and organizations and the leadership positions you held each year. You will use this list for building your resume and on graduate school/job applications. – Cassie Sorrell, Campus Recreation

Make sure you have a quality resume, portfolio, LinkedIn account, etc. – Dr. Matt Boyleston, School of Fine Arts

Research careers early.

It’s never too early to research various careers that might interest you. Just because you’re a biology major doesn’t mean you have to be a doctor. There are many health profession-related careers. The same is true for other majors. Dig a little deeper into other opportunities. – Dr. Lisa Ellis, College of Science and Mathematics

Find an internship that matches your career interests.

Choose an internship that aligns with your major/career field. – Dr. Lesli Fridge, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Find something that will help further your experiences for your career of interest. Some will pay stipends (salary), and some don’t. Some will provide housing while others do not. Search for those that meet your financial circumstances. Consider going outside of Texas, especially if you are from here. Branch out and learn about other regions and cultures. Take the opportunity to expand your professional network. – Dr. Lisa Ellis

As a junior it is definitely time to find your first internship. There are several opportunities to do this on campus. In the Office of Career & Calling you can join the Community Internship Program and begin applying for internships in the area of your major. – Debra Bell, Career and Calling

When trying to find an internship, speak with our internship department, your advisor, and your professors. There are many opportunities out there. – Dr. Matt Boyleston

Value your relationships.

Start networking and making professional connections as soon as you can (through relationships with faculty, internships, people you know at church, etc.) because finding a job is often about who you know and who can put in a good word for you. – Dr. Saul Trevino, College of Science and Mathematics

Life is ALL about relationships. The relationships you formed during your summer jobs, those at your church, or in your neighborhood and during your time at HBU all matter! Don’t hesitate to call on those friendships to help in your search. Our HBU founder, Stewart Morris, says that “the world turns on personalities.” It’s that very observation that can make us successful in life if we embrace others! – Charles Bacarisse, Office of Advancement

As you leave the smaller circle of college life to move into the next season of starting professional life, it is important to make sure you have an established tribe. Who are the three to five people with whom you will share details of life? This means people to challenge you, pray for you, encourage you, and push you when you need to be pushed. Sometimes we forget to establish mentors in our lives and try to “go it alone.” Remember to have different people who can speak into your life professionally, spiritually, mentally, etc. Carefully seek and ask people and then be transparent with them to allow them opportunity to offer wise counsel. – Dr. Kristie Cerling, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Create a list of people who will give you a positive recommendation. This list should include academic and professional contacts, for example – professors, advisors, staff mentors, organization advisors, etc. Be sure to ask their permission first! – Cassie Sorrell

Use campus resources.

Connect with employers through career fairs, recruiting booths, on-campus interviews, and Hire-A-Husky! Career and Calling can assist you with developing your 30-second elevator pitch and branding as you begin to seek a job in your desired industry. – Debra Bell 

Use the resources offered at HBU! Career and Calling is dedicated to making sure you are prepared and confident when applying for jobs, sending out your resume, and going to interviews. – Cassie Sorrell

The job search should begin two semesters before a student graduates. If graduation does sneak up on you, speak to your professors or career services to see what opportunities are available. More often than not, students are employable but don’t realize where to begin looking for jobs or how to market themselves. Professors can help students imagine many more options than students can themselves. – Dr. Matt Boyleston

Keep a checklist and know deadlines.

Don’t wait until the last minute. Keep a checklist of things to do that includes due dates, etc. Keep in touch with your advisor, and make a visit to Career and Calling. Don’t graduate without a “what do I do now” plan! – Dr. Lesli Fridge

Pay attention to deadlines for job postings, graduate or medical applications, or internships. Give your professors plenty of time to write recommendation letters. – Dr. Lisa Ellis

Enjoy being a college student.

Enjoy your last few weeks at HBU, soak it up as much as possible. – Dr. David Davis

Trust that God has a plan

It was easy for me as I left college to go where the wind blew me, and God was definitely guiding the opportunities that developed, but looking back, I wish I would have prayed more about where I was going and reiterated every day that I was relying on Him. As you leave college and move into the unknown, you have so many chances to choose to trust God. I hope you will. – Joannah Buffington, Office of the President

Be open to God’s plan for you and be willing to change your plans. – Dr. David Davis

Thank you to the Houston Baptist University faculty and staff who contributed to this blog.

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Blog edited by Joannah Buffington

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