If you’re wondering how to find a job after grad school, you’ve come to the right place! Once you complete a graduate degree, you’re ready to start sending out applications. Graduate-level education prepares you for higher-earning positions and more responsibility at work. Employers know that you’re a specialist in your field and that your academic accomplishments earn you the right to be selective. Finding the right place to send your application materials can be overwhelming, so we’re going to go over the steps you can take to find a job that can help you deliver on what you wrote in your grad school career goals statement.
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Landing your first job after grad school has the potential to influence your career trajectory in a significant way. You will want to employ a strategy for not only constructing an application that effectively communicates your professional attributes and intentions but for choosing jobs to apply to. What responsibilities are involved? Do you need a research resume? What opportunities has your education prepared you for?
Because you have additional qualifications that the average applicant might not have, you know that you will have a competitive advantage. However, that doesn’t mean finding the right job will be easy. If your dream job requires that you have a certain degree and X number of years of experience, you can’t get away with having nothing relevant in your work history. That said, the role you accept and the company you work for can have a significant impact on the skills and experience you need to eventually earn that dream job.
Let’s take a look at some strategies you can employ to help you find a job after grad school:
Establish Where You Want to Work
The first step to finding the right job is to establish where you want to work and what you want to be doing. Otherwise, you will end up sending out applications aimlessly, which is an inefficient way of finding a job that aligns with your qualifications and career objectives. A work environment that fits your interests and capabilities is going to determine how productive you can be. Ask yourself, “where do I envision myself working?” You might, for instance, prefer to work from home, or in a hybrid setting. Others might thrive in small groups, and others in larger, more complex settings. It all depends on your skills, disposition, and the field in which you earned your degree. At this stage of the application process, it’s beneficial to be flexible with where you want to work because it’s often worth compromising on your preferred setting if the job position is strategically optimal for your career. You can look back on your graduate school resume to help you brainstorm.
Research the company environment to gather information about what they do and who they employ. Check out your school’s repository for potential career options for people who graduated from your program. Then, using these keywords to guide your search, find companies with open positions and research the work environment. Visit their pages and read the job postings thoroughly to find out more about the environment prospective employees will be working in.
Leverage Your Connections
Making use of your connections is a great way to find jobs that you’re suitable for. Your graduate school program allowed you to meet classmates, professors, and professionals in various settings, especially if you graduated from a program with a practicum or placement component. You can use these individuals as referees for your reference letters, which can make your candidacy more appealing to potential employers. You can also reach out to the people who wrote your grad school letter of recommendation. Make sure that the people you request letters from have experience collaborating with you or instructing you in a class, so they can produce a reference letter of significant quality. Chances are, some of the people who you worked with during your graduate degree will have jobs already. Ask around to find out who works where, what they do, what the company does, and if there are any job openings at their company. Sometimes, your connections can put a good word in for you and help you land an interview.
Ideally, you want to start networking during graduate school. If you’re nearing the end of your program, it’s not too late to start getting involved with your peers and professors. There are a number of ways to do this, even if you’re completing your degree remotely. The first option is to participate in extracurricular activities. Schools typically offer sports, community service, and student clubs as common options. However, there are also program-specific ones, like clinics for law students or literary journals for creative writing students. You can inquire about all extracurricular activities by visiting your school’s website.
Need graduate school statement of purpose tips? Take a look at this infographic:
Ask Your Professors for Guidance
This is a great option for fresh graduates. Most professors don’t mind offering advice to students exiting graduate school, especially if you take an interest in learning about their background. Ask your professors or a graduate school advisor in person or in an email if you can discuss potential jobs or career options. Make sure you’re asking professors who work or have worked in the field in which you want to build a professional career. For example, if you have a graduate degree in philosophy, ask one of your philosophy professors for advice on where you should apply now that you’ve graduated. Here is an example of an email sent to a professor to request career advice, which you can use to create your own:
Hello Prof. Harmon,
I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to extend my sincere gratitude for the interesting course on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, which inspired a great deal of my thesis. Your advice and guidance have proven indispensable, and I cannot thank you enough for your continued support.
As someone who just graduated from the Master of Philosophy program at X University, I wanted to ask you about job prospects. I am preparing my application materials at the moment, and I’m in the process of searching for places to apply. I’m inclined to positions with a strong writing and collaborative element, though these are not exclusive criteria. If you are willing, I would appreciate any advice you have to give.
Thank you for considering this request. I look forward to hearing from you.
Research Your Local Area
Another method of finding an available opening for recent graduates is to research your local area. Even if you’re willing to work remotely or in another city, province, state, or country, your local area is a good starting point. Find organizations in your industry and research where they operate and what they do. Some companies and organizations will host hiring events where you can meet with other job seekers and professionals in your field. This will give you an opportunity to discuss job prospects with potential future employers. Keep in mind that you should start to develop these professional relationships while you’re still in graduate school to give yourself lots of time to learn about opportunities in your local area and meet professionals who you might work with in the future.
The job market is also contingent on the region in which you’re seeking employment. If you graduated with a Master of Psychology and you’re seeking employment as a social worker, you might have certain preferences for the demographic you want to work with. In this case, you would find out about which organizations exist in your local area, what groups they work with, and what kind of work they do. If you find that your region lacks resources for a certain group, you might want to move to another city or start an organization of your own.
Apply for Internships
Applying for an internship is a great way to open networking opportunities while gaining relevant experience. The benefit of doing an internship is that many of them are paid, which means you can start earning while you learn the skills that will help you transition into a higher-level role. Even unpaid experience will be a valuable addition to your resume. And if you impress the people you’re working for, they might offer you a position at their company once the internship expires. If your graduate degree was in a science field, plenty of internships will give you the opportunity to fulfill a research position. If your career objective is to work in research, then doing an internship can give you the experience of working in a research environment that you need to land your ideal job. You can also refer to a research interest statement sample to help you prepare for a post-graduate position in this area.
Internships will give you the direction to find a job that’s more aligned with your qualifications. For instance, if you completed your graduate degree in creative writing and you’re looking to find a job in the publishing industry, most major publishers won’t hire anyone with no experience. Publishing houses offer internships for different departments, such as editorial and marketing, where interns will learn the particularities of the position that prepare them for professional work. Again, you might have a strong resume and the right academic credentials, but experience is often an area that graduate students lack. Internships can compensate for this lack of experience and equip you with the skills and knowledge to qualify for a wider range of positions within a company.
Tailor Your Application Materials to the Job You’re Applying for
When you’re applying to jobs after grad school, you need to tailor your application materials to the jobs you’re applying for. This will require extensive research of the company. You need to find out what they do, how they operate, and what they’re looking for in a candidate. In the pursuit of a meaningful career, you should find a company that aligns with your values. To determine what a company values, research its leaders and the company’s operations. What do they sell? How do they promote their products and services? Do they use ethical practices? Are they committed to corporate social responsibility (CSR)? These are a few of the questions that you can lead with when you’re conducting your research. Take note of the mission statement but be sure to access financial reports and employee reviews to corroborate what a company says about their values and goals. Business journals can be a great resource for this kind of research. When you’re constructing your written materials, you can refer back to your graduate school cover letter to help shape what you want to say.
Once you have a decisive list of jobs you want to apply for, start crafting your resume and cover letter. Depending on the job, you might also need to submit a portfolio, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and writing samples. To optimize your appeal to employers, you want to show through your application materials that you align with the company. If a job posting mentions strong communication and word processing skills, you will want to emphasize this on your resume in a skills-specific section. If you have experience in areas shared with the job in question, be sure to include details regarding this experience. You want your application materials to reflect the job you’re applying for. For example, let’s say you completed a Master of Public Health and you’re applying for a position as a health promoter; the job you’re applying for mentions that candidates must have the ability to work with a team, review articles, ensure compliance with company standards, and conduct background checks. In this case, you should highlight these attributes in the work experience section of your resume as well as your cover letter.
You can also contact a grad school essay tutor to help you update your personal statement with recent achievements. This can be especially useful when sending letters of interest to companies that appeal to you but that may not be hiring for a specific position at this time.
Interested in knowing more about how to write a grad school CV? Check out this video:
Read Research Papers of People in Your Field and Find Out What Their Job Titles Are
If you scan research databases for papers that were published in the last five years or so in your field, you will find results for people who work in your industry. Locate the names of the individuals who worked on a particular project and search their names on the Internet. You could also check the staff directory at the institution under which the person published if you can’t find any information on Google. The results of the search should show you where each person currently works, and what their position is at the company. Note that many of these authors will still be in research positions, but if you find enough names, you will notice variations in current job positions. This information can help you determine a viable career path based on what others did in your field. Make sure the research papers you use were published at least a few years ago so that you can find graduate students who have moved on into different work positions.
Compile a list of all the names and job positions and use this to guide your job search. For example, let’s say you find a researcher who now works as a quality assurance engineer; you know you may also qualify for this position based on your education. Be sure to take note of the education level of the contributors so that you know your research will yield individuals in a similar position to your own.
Finding a job after grad school isn’t easy and transitioning from academic life to work life can be a challenge. Using some of the strategies we mentioned in this blog, you can start to look for opportunities that align with both your skills and personality, but also with your educational background. Take some time to reflect on what you’re looking for in a job and how it will affect your career prospects. If you’re having difficulty deciding on where to apply, start with an internship. It will give you the tools and experience to become absorbed in the position or to find a new one with another company.
1. Should I put my GPA on my resume?
It’s advisable to put your GPA on your resume if it’s above 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. A high GPA can imply several desirable applicant characteristics, including high achievement and commitment, but a low GPA can do the opposite.
2. How can I start the application process if I don’t know where to apply?
Start with the simpler step of establishing where you want to work, and what you want to be doing. Research your local area to find out what organizations are in the industry you want to work in and check out the employee database to see what positions are offered at those companies.
3. How can I improve the quality of my job applications?
Tailor them to the job you’re applying for. This means that if a company mentions that they’re looking for people with excellent client service skills, then you will want to state and emphasize instances from your work or volunteering history that exemplify that quality.
4. Why should I research a company before applying to it?
Researching the company beforehand allows you to identify what the company is looking for so that you can accentuate the right qualities in your application. It will also help you decide whether it is a place where you really want to work. Finally, should you be invited for an interview, you will already feel quite well prepared.
5. How can I network remotely?
You can still join clubs at your school that are run remotely. Examples of these would include book clubs, debate, gaming, chess, and others. You can inquire about online activities by consulting an advisor.
6. Who can I consult for advice on how to find a job after grad school?
Asking your professors is your best option. You can visit them during office hours or send them an email to ask for advice on where you can look to apply. You can also use professors who you connected with in your classes as a reference.
7. What should I look for when I’m researching companies?
You will want to look for mentions of specific skills, traits, experience, and responsibilities to make sure you align with what they’re looking for.
8. How can I prepare for an interview once I’m invited to one?
You should thoroughly research the company and position and be prepared to discuss both your grad school experience and your work history as it relates to the position.
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