Finding the Job You Want

Q: I'm going to graduate in the near future, but I have no idea what I want to do or what kind of job I want. Help! -- J.L., from the Internet

A: Crossing the line from undergraduate to diploma-carrying job seeker can be daunting, indeed. Heck, many a Fool has triple-majored or gone to graduate school just to avoid this sort of thing for as long as possible. Still, it's inevitable -- when the real world beckons, you'll have to answer the call. While there's no one solution for everyone, we can offer a few thoughts on the topic:

-- Take a deep breath and chill. Panicking will get you nowhere. You likely have just gone through 16 straight years of schooling. While your dad might not agree, you deserve a reward for your accomplishment. Now might be the time to drive that 1985 Buick cross-country. Visit EuroDisney, hike the Grand Canyon, bungee jump off something -- anything. Once you're locked into a job, you may not have the time to get away.

-- Don't expect to get your dream job right out of school. That's not to say you won't get a job you really like in the near future (though we understand that openings for court jesters are few and far between). It's more of a statement on the flux of the American job market. Over the course of your lifetime, you're likely to not only change jobs several times but to change your career entirely -- more than once.

-- Your degree may or may not have anything to do with the jobs offered to you. We know you studied four years of intense Latin and you believe you have important work ahead of you. Translating all of the Grateful Dead's songs may be your crowning achievement one day, but you probably won't make a whole lot of money doing it. Still, that doesn't mean you don't have the knowledge and skills that an employer will find valuable.

-- Get an internship and live with the parental units. Need experience? Get it by interning at a company that interests you. Granted, you might not get paid (hence, the excuse to freeload at home a little bit longer), but many companies are more than willing to take on interns. You'll gain some practical skills; they'll get the extra help needed to round out their staffs. Heck, we might even consider you here at the Fool if you're a decent pingpong player.

-- Think less about finding a job and more about finding a great company. It might be easier to find a company you want to work for rather than a job you want to do. A good company will allow you to grow with it and expand your knowledge and skills. It might even broaden your interests so that you end up taking positions you never even originally considered.

-- Treat everyone as a potential contact. You don't need anything more than the gift of gab to network. You're interested in the Internet and your new girlfriend's father works for America Online? Excellent. You're interested in publishing and your barber just inked a deal for his first book, Barbers Across America? Sweet. Keep yakking, Fool. You'll find that court jester opening somewhere.

WHAT NOW?: For some Zen advice on job hunting, get advice from someone who finds people jobs for a living -- The Headhunter. Check out his tips at

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