You have your degree! Congratulations. Finally, it’s time to apply your new-found knowledge and channel your ambitions into something that offers a paycheck.
If you don’t have a job lined up, don’t panic. You can boost your chances of landing a job when you approach your search with a plan of action and an eye on internships and entry-level jobs posted in APA’s Jobs Online. Employers are ready to hire recent graduates and APA is where they go to find candidates.
Now, about that plan of action. Being able to articulate your talents, knowledge, and skills is essential. Connecting with a network of professionals and building relationships needs to be part of your search strategy.
- Be clear about what you’re good at and what you want to do. There must have been times when you lost yourself in work and “got in the flow.” What were you doing at those times? The answer will differ for everyone, but one thing is certain, you know you can focus on those activities with sustained energy. That’s going to help you discover your strengths and where you can apply them.
- Just about all the mid-career planners I’ve talked to have passions that intersect with their work. The planner who volunteered with a local historic foundation became a valued player in revitalization efforts; a planner committed to social justice found a career in community health. I
- Have an elevator pitch. When someone asks you what kind of position you’re looking for, be prepared with a clear, specific, and practiced answer. It’s the most effective way to capture someone’s attention. If you don’t have a clear answer, no one will be able to help you.
- Your job search should include a mix of on- and offline tactics. Online is a good way to identify likeminded people, areas of interest, and places where you’re aligned with a mission. Tip: join the APA LinkedIn group.
- Don’t just click — get out and meet people face to face. Say yes to networking coffees and events. Visit your local APA Chapter website for events nearby. Join an APA Division to connect with planners who work in a particular specialty or who share your area of interest. Get involved in division leadership. Make meaningful connections — you’ll learn a lot from others’ talents and experience; you are building your career through relationships.
- Network with purpose. What goals do you want to accomplish? Think about what you can give rather than get. Talk about a common interest or issue. Be sure to listen; you don’t need to sell yourself until the interview. Be curious. Go on a fact-finding mission. The teacher will appear and you may leave with a mentor. Think quality, not quantity. Focus on learning. You may find that networking is energizing!