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First of all, I don’t want to mislead you. This isn’t a blog about how to prepare every aspect of your life after you graduate from Pickens Technical College. You won’t find out how to move out of your mom’s house, get your graduation gown, or find out how to receive your diploma if you don’t want to attend the ceremony. This is a blog about how to find a job if you don’t have one lined up already, further develop your skills for a long, lucrative career, add new skills that will be useful in your work, and set yourself up for long-term success.

You can do it in five easy steps leading up to and immediately after graduation from PTC:

1. Set Up Your Network

Teachers at PTC make an effort to connect with their students and become a resource for their success in the professional field. Think of your instructor as your first contact in your growing professional network. Chances are, by the time you reach graduation, you already have the groundwork for a network of other workers in your industry who can help you as you develop your career.

Visit your teacher during office hours, ask questions. If you think you’ll need a letter of recommendation, ask your teacher for one. See what they have to say about how to find jobs and advance your career. Talk to your classmates. They can be helpful parts of your network, and you can help them out as well, especially if you’re entering the same industry.

2. Focus On Your Weaknesses

During the last few weeks of the school year, it’s crunch time. You’ll be working hard to pass your exams and complete your final projects. By this point, you should know which skills you’re strong in and which you need to work on. Take some time to focus on the skills you’ll need to develop to be a better worker in your field. Remember that in order to get a job in your chosen field, you’ll need to add value to an organization or to your work itself. Focus on how to make yourself more valuable before you leave PTC and many of the resources to help you behind.

3. Develop Your Job-Seeking Materials and Skills

You’ve heard the saying before: “Finding a job is a job.” It’s true. You need specific skills to find a job in just about any market. If you don’t have a job lead by this point, don’t panic. It takes months sometimes for even the most skilled workers to find jobs. (Years if you got a Humanities degree like me— that’s a different article ). Instead of freaking out, use this precious time before graduation to set yourself up for success in Job Land.

If you’re not doing it in school, download a resume example or template and write one for yourself. Once you have the first draft of this all-important document, you can work on tightening up the structure and language to catch an employer’s eye. Learn how to write cover letters if necessary. Practice eliminating your awkward interview tendencies. Arm yourself with the skills to get a job and if you aren’t already looking for jobs, start.

4. Gather Information

You did it. You graduated, you celebrated, you created ways to connect with your teachers and classmates after graduation, and you have a killer resume to hand out. As you’re looking for jobs and getting interviews, it’s also important to gather as much information about the industry you’re getting into. Connect with people in the industry, ask them questions. Learn what a typical job in your industry entails and what to expect once you get hired. Get as much information as possible.

5. Develop Your Management Skills

As I mentioned above, it can take a while to find a job you’ll love for many reasons. Once you have a sweet gig working for an organization and people you like, it’s never too early to start taking on more responsibilities and push yourself. Most employers like workers who go above and beyond. As long as you’re focused on your immediate duties, you’ll get better at handling them.

If you want to advance, you have to develop your people and management skills. Employers are always looking for talented workers they can promote from within. They’d much rather promote you than hire someone else to take a management position. If you’re running your own business, you’re not trying to impress management, you’re trying to impress customers and clients.

The key is preparation for each stage in your career. Opportunities will come, but you must be ready to grab them when you can. It’s never too early to prepare for success.