No job at graduation? No problem. It’s nice to have the freedom of summer looming before you without it being cut short by a job start date in the middle of June. But if you don’t have anything lined up, summer should be about busting your booty to have something lined up come fall—not just tanning by the pool all day every day.
If you haven’t identified target jobs and/or companies, start there. Build a list of places with opportunities that align with your area of expertise and your professional desires. Regularly check to see what kind of openings they offer. If you find openings that align with what you want to do, stop tanning and start applying. If you can’t find anything you’re looking for, make sure that company actually offers the opportunities you’re seeking.
Even if you don’t find any current openings that fit what you’re seeking, establish an inside contact. See if your friends or family know anyone who works there, see if your school has alumni working there, or just find the contact information of a recruiter or HR specialist. If you can figure out how one employee’s company email address is formatted, you have everyone in the company’s email address. It’s not creepy to reach out with targeted inquiries—it’s smart.
As you consider places in which you may want to sit at a desk for at least 40 hours per week, don’t limit yourself. Remember there are tons great places to work that aren’t named Google or Apple. Branch out beyond the massive mainstream names and target companies that truly offer what you’re looking for, not just companies with the shiny brand name. If your dream position is actually with Google or Apple, keep the dream alive. But if you can’t get your foot in the door, don’t be a brat. Look elsewhere. You’re not entitled to have a shimmery brand-name job handed to you. Plus it’s easier to get a job once you already have a job, anyway.
Finally, brand yourself. Seriously. It sounds strange, but you want to make your name and your brand desirable in the same way that people want t-shirts just because they don the Nike swoosh. Your core interests, values, skills, and professional areas of expertise should be on full display in everything you do. Reflect your brand through your resume and cover letters, reflect it through your social media presence, reflect it through what you say and how you act whenever you’re networking and meeting new people. Your brand is your personal currency as you’re trying to figure out what the f*ck you’re going to do next. Make it strong and consistent and it can set you apart from every other degree-holder just like you.
Enjoy summer, but make it a time of productivity and developing personal capital, too. You can always find openings while you’re tanning by the pool, but don’t slide into fall and realize the only thing you did for the past three months was tan.