You’ve Graduated… What’s Next?

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Guest Author Dana Primeau 2016 MATD Graduate

Being a candidate for a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development must mean that I have my plans after graduation neatly organized and planned out right? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

As excited as I am to graduate and “be done,” I am secretly freaking out. My palms get sweaty and my heart beats a little faster when the inevitable question of “what are your plans for after graduation?” comes out of the mouth of EVERYONE who knows of my impending graduation ceremony. As exciting as it is to graduate, whether it’s with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctorate, we all have to figure out “what’s next.”

I’ve put together a list of the top 5 helpful tips that apply to anyone who is graduating (or will graduate in the near future):

1. Make a Plan : You’ve just graduated and you want to take a break from writing, thinking, and reading. My advice is to keep the ball rolling. What I mean by this, is spend a chunk of time making a plan for yourself. Make goals that inspire you to keep working towards what it is you want out of your career. It’s not realistic to think we will all land our “dream jobs” after graduation but you can definitely start heading in that direction. Where do you want to be in 6 months after graduation? How about a year after graduation? Set your sights on where you want to be, write them down, and map out how you are going to get there.

2. Network, Network, Network: When people tell you to network and get your name out there, they mean it. When looking back at my previous jobs, most of them have been referrals from people I know. It is more likely that an employer will hire someone as a referral from someone they know and trust, then someone who they know nothing about. While this isn’t always the case, it doesn’t hurt to make yourself known to a prospective employer through networking. Networking can be done in the form of social media, such as LinkedIn, but it can also be done through professional networks and pastor current colleagues. Do your due diligence and figure out how you can benefit from who knows who!

3. Have a Few Sets of Professional Eyes Look at Your Resume: Your resume will likely be the first glance into who you are by a prospective employer. Make sure it’s a good one! Having a professional look at your resume and give you constructive feedback will only benefit you in your job search. It’s important to make sure your resume doesn’t only show what your skills are, but it’s important to give specific examples. Use your resume as a way of showing your prospective employer how you can benefit their organization. Put your experience on display and use your resume as the outlet to do that!

4. Keep Learning: You’ve graduated and received your diploma so now you are done…. Not so fast! A degree program is just the beginning of your lifelong learning. Earning your degree has given you the knowledge needed to enter a career field, but working in the field is what gives you the experience. It’s said that one doesn’t truly master something until they are able to teach it to someone else. Think of what you have learned in school as just the beginning to your quest in experiencing maximum proficiency in your area of interest.

5. Be Humble and Don’t Give Up: Looking for a new job or position can be challenging and it can take time. Don’t become discouraged if it takes longer than you anticipate. While interviewing, you might receive feedback that you didn’t expect, which can be tough to hear. Instead of feeling frustrated or discouraged, be humble, and use it as fuel to keep moving forward. Putting one foot in front of the other and doing all the right things, is the only sure way to get closer to the position that is right for you. Keep your eye on the prize!

Questions for discussion:

  1. Are you planning to stay in your current organization or seek a position at a new organization?
  2.  What key phrase will you use to position yourself on your resume?
  3.  What are your short- term career goals? What are your long- term career goals?

Congratulations Graduates!


Acuff, J. (2015, May 6). 21 Things Nobody Tells You When You Graduate College. Retrieved from

Matt, S. (2016, May 11). 7 Things You Have To Look Forward To After Graduating From College. Retrieved from


  • Please check out this book: The Two-Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton. He wrote it for MBA students at Duke University Fuqua School of Business. As a career coach, I recommend it to all my clients as it is a very disciplined, metrics-based approach that maximizes technology. And Steve is formerly from Chicago – check his LinkedIn group, too.

  • Great post! The section about network network network is so true and this is an important skill. I would not be in the position I’m in if I had not networked.

  • Thank you for this post! When I finished my bachelor’s degree, I also didn’t have a plan on what I would do immediately after graduation. I did end up taking some time off and now I’m in a doctorate program and I do hope to continue in my current organization with a promotion after graduation. Networking and continuous learning are both important as you continue through your career.

  • I agree with all of the 5 tips. When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I had no idea what I was going to do. All of my friends with the same degree were lining up jobs with connections they made over the summers or while working in school (I didn’t do any internships or work during school). I 100% agree that networking is very important. Another tip that sticks out to me is to keep learning. Once I graduate from pharmacy school, whether I have a job right away or not, new medications and new guidelines will be coming out very frequently. It is my job to keep up with these and learn then myself.

  • This article makes so many valid points! The one that really rings true to me is the need to keep learning and educating ones self. In the pharmacy field there are new medications and innovations that arise on a daily basis, and it will just continue to grow and evolve in the coming years. It is so important to stay up to date on all the new changes, whether good or bad, to keep yourself informed in order to provide the best care possible to your patients!

  • I love people who share real information! I have found it disheartening in my career change people will not give real world examples on how to make it through once you are finished with school. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • This is a great post and has hit home for me! For me the most challenging part is I’m already working a great job in IT but getting my MAOD to transition out of IT. Most people ask me the same thing and ask what will I do with my degree when I graduate soon. I’d love to say I can now jump over to the HR or T&D department or go to another organization and get a job in the field. But it has proven to be difficult because if you’re not already working in that area, it’s hard to actually use your degree to get further, especially when you’re trying to jump from IT to T&D or OD. Almost every posting I’ve seen has asked for at least 3 years experience in OD or TD.
    Many that I have talked to in the field have suggested to re-write a resume and gear it towards T&D or OD. While it sounds easy, it’s not easy to change, for example, an IT related task to a T&D or OD related one. But little by little, I’m working on it. The next option is networking, as many mentioned here. I think this is probably the better option as you can verbally discuss your experience, your schooling, and how together they can benefit an organization. This is my goal for now. I welcome any feedback or suggestions. 🙂

  • Great post, This is hits home for so many college graduates. It use to be that if you had a high school diploma you had a great chance to get a job. Then it was if you graduated college with a Bachelors degree. Then it was if you graduated with a Masters. This is not so any more. There are thousands of people with masters degrees that cannot find work. Your degree is only a tool. It is not something that automatically gets you a job. You have to do the hard work like this article stated. Don’t give up, market yourself. You are the only one sometimes that believes in you. If you don’t get out there no one can do it for you.

  • This is a simple, yet very helpful piece of advice. I will be sharing this with our Men’s Basketball players for sure. The key is to keep momentum going. I totally agree 100%.

  • Hi Dana,

    Great Article!!! I am Graduating soon and I am petrified! I am looking at different events in the TRDV area to network and meet new people. Its going to be an interesting ride!

  • Natasha Thomas

    I really apprecaited this post since I graduate in 3 days(SO EXCITED). I plan on staying with my current company and feel as though I’m in the right role. There is room for growth which is encouraging. One sentence I always use is “As a creative facilitator I’m proactive, enthusiastic and agile”. One of my short term goals is to earn ownership of the leadership program within our dept. Currently I’m assisting the owner and providing content curation. Long term is still a little abstract. From what I feel I know I would love to create e-learning content and facilitate.

  • What a timely article! I have bookmarked this for future use. Continuous learning is necessary for all fields, but it’s prevalent in the T&D space. Delivery methods and platforms are ever-evolving, and we must stay on top of our knowledge to stay relevant. Immediately after graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I enrolled in a course to obtain my PMP. I found value in this because I was able to apply some of what I learned in the course, and now things make sense.

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