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Professional Development Tips For Recent Grads

When you graduate from university, it can be difficult to know where to go next. Whether you’ve never had any professional experience or have 5 internships on your resume, you’re probably looking for some professional development tips to aid your transition into the working world. It’s important to remember that your education isn’t over just because you have your diploma in hand. In fact, when it comes to your professional development, your education is just beginning. As you move through your first several years post-graduation, you’ll be constantly learning and growing as a young professional. Each and every experience in the early part of your career is important, as it will teach you important lessons and skills for the future. Keeping this in mind, there are several things you can do to take the reigns in your own education.

Here are 6 key professional development tips to help you succeed after graduation:

Read Widely

When you finally hand in your thesis and walk across the graduation stage for the last time, picking up another book might be the last thing you want to do. However, reading widely and with a critical eye becomes even more important after graduation. Today’s most successful global leaders are constantly reading, learning and growing. Whether you avidly read your National Geographic subscription or are on the library waiting list for the next bestselling novel, reading is an easy way to gradually improve your professional development skills and keep your mind sharp. Additionally, it will give you great conversation topics, and can even help you to become a better writer and speaker.

Professional Networking

In today’s competitive job market, blindly applying to jobs online is no longer an effective method for getting a position. Some jobs receive hundreds of applicants, who are screened by an automated program. Unfortunately, that means you might get rejected for a job before a real person even glances at your carefully curated CV! Because of this, the best and easiest way to get a job or internship is via referral. If someone inside an organization makes a recommendation on your behalf, you are sure to have a leg up on the competition! Building up strong connections with professionals in your field is the best way to ensure you’ll have no trouble finding a job in the future.

Find a Mentor

In order to continue professional development after graduation, look for people who have skills and positions you aspire to. A mentor is a perfect person to guide you through the early stages of your career. You’ll be able to get advice and assistance as you apply for jobs, grad school, and even internships. A mentor can help you identify your goals and next steps, and keep you on track!

Held Thursday, 2/8/2018, in Washington, DC, Ford School MPP students gathered with alumni for a conversation with Dean Michael S. Barr, moderated by Keith Fudge (MPP ’09), followed by a networking reception. This photo is available for free under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 International license. Mandatory photo credit may be attributed to: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan.

Find a New Perspective

Another beneficial professional development tip is to differentiate yourself as a young professional is by offering a unique perspective. International experience is an excellent way to do this. An international internship or volunteering in another country is a great way to gain a new perspective on your industry. This is something you’ll be able to offer to potential employers that will make you extremely valuable.

Start in a Startup

Finally, our last professional development tip is, if you aren’t sure where to start, find a position in a startup. Entrepreneurial organizations are at the heart of the business world and are the perfect environment in which to learn and grow. At a startup, you’ll take on more impactful roles, and have lots of room to move up in the organization.


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  1. College of DuPage Celebrates 50th Commencement, COD newsroom, CC BY 2.0
  2. Networking, by International Railway Summit, CC BY-SA 2.0
  3. 2018 DC Trip and Networking Reception, by Gerald R. Ford School, CC BY-ND 2.0
Blog by The Intern Group

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!