College Grads Get Ready for Work

Question: In May I'm graduating with a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley, and I'm thoroughly unsure about what I'm going to do, want to do, and what I'm expected to do with my postgraduate life.

I'm not sure what avenues I would like to pursue (career-wise), although I would love to move out of the Bay Area to either Southern California, New York or somewhere overseas. Is there a job out there that incorporates my interests -- my love for learning about different people and cultures, traveling, art, the beach, Spanish, world politics, design and urban planning. A job that I would qualify for, keeping in mind I really don't have much experience? And if there is, could I actually get paid in a career I love? My goal is to be able to pay rent, bills and loans, while still being able to save some money for graduate school. I feel like I will have to win the lottery to make enough money to meet my financial requirements … and we all know the chances of that.

Ideally, my perfect job would come and find me. Is this possible, and if not, how would I find it?

Tory Johnson: It's OK to be worried and excited about how you'll find your passion and pay your bills.

The good news is that your school has incredible resources to offer students who feel the exact same way as you do. It's up to you to take advantage of those programs and services.

Make an appointment with a campus career services adviser to evaluate your options. A career services adviser can do a range of things such as administering personality tests that provide insight into your true passions and strengths, which will lead to identifying natural career paths. They can also provide a list of positions that recruiters from a wide range of industries and businesses look to fill on college campuses. Such a list often provokes excitement because you may come across a job description that has your name written all over it. That could be the "aha!" moment you're looking for. Also, ask for salary stats on what new grads are being offered in various industries. That might drive your thinking.

You should also connect with alumni with the same degree you're about to receive. Find out what they're doing professionally, since you might become inspired.

Question: I am quickly approaching my 52nd birthday, and I will soon be graduating from the University of Phoenix with a B.S. in business management. I am getting excited as the graduation day approaches. I am considering auditioning as a speaker at my commencement ceremony.

But I am getting concerned that I am getting too old to use my degree effectively in the job force. I am also very concerned about repaying my student loans. I work at Macy's and would really like to move up the corporate ladder. It's a great place to work, they just don't pay much money. I have a lot to think about in the next year.

Tory JohnsonHave a candid conversation with the HR manager at Macy's. Be clear that you love your position as a sales associate, but mention that you're eager to develop a career path that would use your other skills and enable you to grow with the company. Ask if the company sees such opportunities available to you in the next three to six months, and if so, what steps do you need to take to move in the right direction.

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