From President Obama to “Glee” actress Jane Lynch to screenwriter legend Aaron Sorkin to funnyman Steve Carell, college graduations around the country were rife with celebrity commencement addresses as A-listers took to the podium to dispense their sage advice to bright 20-something-year-olds.
While some tackled the ensuing Wall Street crisis, others took a more comedic approach and talked about how much college has changed since they attended – you know, at a time when individuals still courted and the expression “friend me” didn’t exist.
And although some big shots made mention of technology, and of how it can be used during the impending job search, there are perhaps a few tips that should have been better harped on. So, for the Class of 2012 (and any underclassmen who may be reading this), I give you my valedictorian speech – a speech chock full of my astute suggestions for how to navigate the post-college life in a world inundated with technological innovation.
Clean up your social media accounts
With college graduation comes the inevitable rights of passage like “Senior Week,” Cinco De Mayo celebrations, and various themed frat parties which, of course, make for prime picture opportunities. Well, prime picture opportunities if you keep those pics of you dancing in a lei with a coconut bikini buried in your nightstand. After all, these are not pictures you want your potential employer viewing.
When you are in college you most likely don’t think twice about every lewd, inebriated picture that is posted to Facebook (News - Alert), the inane Tweets you share about hangovers and bombed midterms, or sophomoric posts written on friends’ social media walls.
Now is certainly the time to care as employers all over are increasingly asking prospective employees to turn over their social networking passwords so they can see what your private profiles entail. Moreover, employers are using past Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert) dalliances as reasons not to hire you.
So in a time where half of your graduating class is without a job, do yourself a favor and spend a few hours (err... weeks) going through every single piece of your timeline and Twitter history. You’ll thank us later.
Network, network, network
Did we mention network? In this struggling job market not only are one in two college graduates jobless but they are also making significantly less as students who graduated during the recession – from 2009 to 2011—earned a median starting salary of $27,000.
So how do you become part of that lucky 50 percent that is enjoying the 9 to 5 grind? By networking. Networking is one of the most beneficial tools in the job search today as LinkedIn (News - Alert) and Facebook are brimming with contacts. Whether it’s that old college professor you had sophomore year who might have connections in your city or that past supervisor at an old internship, start up a conversation with past acquaintances, keeping in mind that you can never come right out and ask for a job. Rather, forge a relationship. Ask them about how they broke into their respected fields, what advice they would have to make you a more competitive candidate and how you can make your resume have that “wow” factor.
Another tip? When you find a job posting online, search for the company name on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections, or second- or third-degree connections. Then, ask your friend to connect you with that person who works at your dream company so you can make sure your resume lands on the right desk.
Buy your domain address
Worried that there might be another Brian Smith out there? Well you have good reason to be because not only might there be two of you but the other Brian Smith might be soiling your online reputation. Perhaps that Brian Smith was arrested for marijuana possession or maybe he has a blog about how he hates the government?
Either way, there are certain tactics you can employ to make sure your doppelganger doesn’t completely eradicate your chances for gainful employment. The first place to start is to buy your personal domain, such as BrianSmith.com. Not only are you ensuring that no one else can buy it and scam you, but you are also giving yourself the motivation to do something positive with your personal brand. Use that site to put up your most recent photography work. Use it to host a blog about your thoughts on the debt crisis if you want to ultimately get into economics. Or use it to display pictures from your latest architecture project. Your personal URL will become your new resume in this technologically advanced world and increase your chances of being scouted or recruited.
Since 50 percent of you are without jobs and are looking down a long path filled with endless job interviews and cursory “Thank You” notes, now is an optimal time to challenge yourself and enhance your skill sets, and the first place to start is by singing up for an online continuing education class.
I know, I know. You are thinking: ‘Register for a class?! I just finished four years of school!’ Well, the first thing to help you get off the daunting path of interviews is if you can show a prospective employee that you have not been spending unemployment basking in the sun and road tripping to Bonnaroo. Rather, you kept your mind fresh and ready and perhaps even dabbled in something new.
If you were an economics major, challenge yourself to a creative writing class. For you journalism majors, take a stab at a business management class. These classes will keep you busy and focused, as well as present you with an array of networking opportunities as you get to know the others taking your online class.
So, to the Class of 2012: I hope that this “Valedictory” address inspired you. It might be a dark time right now but remember that your future is bright and technology is one tool at your disposal that will catapult you down the road towards company-issued health insurance and salaried positions.