Erin Berthon

Erin Berthon, MA     Career Manager, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, at Chapman University

Graduating early? Sure this is great for the pocketbook, but it forces the new graduate to enter the job search a semester earlier. During the holidays, many companies are not hiring and recruiters are not active.

Time to find the bright side and grab a hold of the opportunities that do exist!

I suggest getting a jump on entry-level hiring at small or midsize companies. There are some companies and organizations that reorganize in January and build employment opportunities through their yearly budget. This can often present a favorable opportunity for our December graduates. Since many of those companies’ budgets open in the new year, they may just hire on the spot. It is also a great time to find job leads through networking with family and friends. During the holidays we all typically connect with more people than usual. Practice your networking skills at family parties, join Facebook and Linkedin groups, and definitely reach out to alumni.

Recruiters and potential employers will undoubtedly ask about the timing of your graduation, this is the time to shine. Be open and honest about your reasons – did you amass AP credits in high school, carry overloads, or stay an extra semester? No matter what your reason is, your answer is a chance to show responsibility, hard work, and persistence. In the interview, point out relevant internships or coursework that helped you accelerate to where you are.

Also, keep in mind that you still have the opportunity as a graduate to take a paid internship. January is not too late to look and apply. Most places will take a graduate up until 6 months after graduation. This allows you to check off those boxes of what you like and definitely the jobs you DO NOT like.

This is a chance to set yourself apart from the rest. You are unique because you graduated in December. A cover letter is a great place to explain why. January can also be a better time to apply for jobs because the resume stacks could be less compared to the stacks employers receive in May and June.  You are entering a calmer (and probably friendlier) job market.

Congrats to all the December graduates and view this early graduation as a career-building opportunity!