Right now, it may occur to you that this time isn’t like any other transition you’ve ever made before. It’s not like going from high school to college. It’s not like moving from one town to another. It’s more like getting on a spaceship all by yourself and leaving this planet without being fully trained to pilot the ship’s controls, including how to lower the landing gear so you make a safe and secure landing.

Graduating as a Communication major can be particularly confusing in part because you know you are qualified to do many different things, but none of the job openings align with the courses or activities you excelled at. For example, you won’t find job titles like Mass Communication, Message Design, Intercultural Communication, or Interpersonal Communication. You won’t find job titles like Club President or Rush Chair. Yet all the knowledge and skills you acquired translate to many different occupations and careers.

You do have a head start if you loved the work you did during an internship or had a rewarding part-time job. In that case, you have already applied the knowledge and abilities you gained at school. Perhaps you found that social media or customer service was the perfect fit for your talent and personality. You might have spent time at a non-profit that suited your values, skills, and personal traits. Even if you had a less than ideal experience, you at least know what you don’t want to do. That’s a head start because you know what to avoid.

But what if you are graduating with absolutely no clue, no leads, and no network? What if your ideal job just isn’t available right now because, for example, you love events and right now there aren’t events jobs available? Another hurdle might be you simply don’t understand the jargon of work, the duties described in job openings, or even the meaning of the job titles you see. Maybe you don’t know what titles to look for.

How can you launch a successful career when you’ve had a great academic and extracurricular experience but are feeling more than a little lost about how to make the transition from a great student life to a great working life?

A little-known fact of this transition is that everyone feels at least a little sadness about leaving school. It’s natural. You’ll miss your friends. You’ll miss the rhythm of life that up until now has been measured in semesters and summers. It’s also natural to feel a little anxiety about what comes next.

So, accept that at least a little of your confusion comes from how you feel, irrespective of what you do and don’t know about what you want to do with the rest of your life. As a Communication major you’ve learned how to express your feelings and thoughts in writing, so now is a great time to journal. A good prompt for your first entry would be: “What will you miss about being a student?” Let all your thoughts and feelings come out on the page.

Then, open an Excel file and title it: Topics I’m Interested In. In the first column list every idea that comes to mind. It’s a little like playing a word association game. Let one idea bubble up the next one. For example, you might list sustainability, cycling, architecture, healthy food, luxury travel, people, Nike, clean water, solar energy, bikinis, video games, design, video, TikTok, advertising, writing, and helping others.

The next step is to make friends with the Jobs tab on LinkedIn. You’ll be welcomed by the prompt: “Start your job search here.” The first box prompts you to “Search Jobs.” Put in one of your topics. Let’s pick sustainability. The next box prompts you to “Search location.” You can put in any place in the world. For this example, we’ll choose Los Angeles.

When you click, you’ll see another set of boxes that allow you to narrow your search. The very last box asks you to choose the experience level. Pick “entry level.” According to LinkedIn, there are 412 job openings that fit our example criteria. Among all those openings, some good prospects for Communication majors include: Project Coordinator in energy for the Southland Corporation and an Editorial Services Specialist at the law firm of Latham and Watkins. As you read each job description in the list that pops up for each area of interest, if you have 60% of the job qualifications: apply!

Like every other skill you’ve ever acquired, launching a successful career just takes a plan, patience, and practice.

Next Steps

  1. On your Excel sheet, open a tab for each one of your topics.
  2. Use LinkedIn Jobs to conduct your search.
  3. Keep track of where you’ve applied, the job title, a few salient details from the job description, plus the date you applied.
  4. Make it a goal to apply to at least 10 jobs every week.
  5. Update your topics as your mind naturally bubbles up more ideas.