Although I’m not graduating until December, I have already taken several steps to prepare myself for life after college.
I’ve been attending networking events, updating my LinkedIn profile and applying to jobs and internships in D.C. and around the country. There are no shortage of opportunities in D.C., and I utilize every chance I can to make a connection, whether I’m in a professional setting or at the mall.
Just the other day, I took a Lyft and ended up sparking a conversation with the other passenger. I found out that she works at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which is an area of interest for me. Before she got out of the car, we exchanged business cards and she said if she sees any job openings, she would contact me. A day later, I sent a follow-up email along with my résumé so she could keep me in mind for future opportunities.
The Washington Center (TWC) has helped me see all that I can be doing now to prepare myself to enter the job market and (soon) launch a career. However, I was also curious about what other soon-to-be graduates are doing to lay the foundation for their next steps.
Emely Diaz from Monmouth University shared the following insights about her experience. “My internship and TWC’s program have definitely provided some clarity into what I want to do post-graduation. I wouldn’t say that I have it completely nailed down, but with the experience that I’m gaining and the professionals that I am meeting, I have more insight into what want out of my career.
I’ve made an effort to meet with alumni from my university who live in the area. This has been really fun because I’ll get some really insightful advice on job searching but then we’ll also talk about school and how much we hate/love New Jersey. This has made networking less stressful because I’m meeting influential people who share a very similar experience with me.”
Don’t just make friends with your peers - make sure you engage with professionals at your internship site, people who come to speak at TWC and even TWC staff members...These personal relationships could open the door to professional opportunities and help you expand your network.Domonique Williams
Stevie Massey, from the University of Central Arkansas, told me how she made the most of her time in D.C. to build her professional network: “At one of the networking events hosted by TWC, I was able to meet a senior executive in the Peace Corps and engage with her on a personal level. Thanks to this event, I have a connection there and a leg up in competing for a volunteer position serving for the Peace Corps. At another event, I was able to meet a State Department Foreign Service Officer that was kind enough to talk to me about my future career and give me advice on the Foreign Service Exam.
She went on to say: “I’ve learned that it's okay to consider many career paths, that I should be very confident in choosing a master's program before spending thousands of dollars on it and that it's okay to not know exactly what your life plan is.”
Domonique Williams (pictured top), from Monmouth University had this advice for seniors attending TWC: “Don’t just make friends with your peers - make sure you engage with professionals at your internship site, people who come to speak at TWC and even TWC staff members. Everyone is more apt to remember the intern who always smiled at them and greeted them. These personal relationships could open the door to professional opportunities and help you expand your network. It never hurts to remind people of your humanity!”
Looking back, I’m grateful that I took the opportunity to be in D.C. during one of my last semesters in college. It can be nerve-wracking and bittersweet to leave your campus behind (especially so close to graduation) but I know that this experience and the people I’m meeting here will impact my career in ways that I can only imagine.