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Landing Your First Job After College

April 6, 2022
by Beth Thomason

For college graduates, landing that first job after graduation can be intimidating and overwhelming. You’ve put in the work, crammed for exams, created killer projects, and earned that degree. Now what?

Here are a few tips for marketing and graphic design students to prepare for a successful job search – and life after college.

First things first… market yourself!

Treat yourself like a marketing project and create a stellar brand for yourself. Do you have a professional photo? Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? Is your resume organized and representative of your talent and skills? Is your cover letter generic or does it have personality and speak specifically to each company or job opening you’re applying for? How’s your portfolio?

For a marketing or graphic design graduate, a portfolio can help you stand out from the rest. Is the work you’re showcasing representative of your best skills? Is it in a format that will “wow” creative directors, HR managers, and marketing pros?

FUEL offers 25-minute portfolio review sessions for college juniors and seniors majoring in marketing and/or design. You meet with a member of our creative team for professional feedback on your portfolio and helpful tips to make it stand out and give your job search a strong kickstart. 

Keep your options open.

With a degree in marketing or graphic design, there are many avenues and industries to explore. Keep an open mind as you search for potential jobs and consider the different opportunities available at advertising and marketing agencies and in-house marketing departments for companies and organizations. Both offer strong opportunities to gain additional design skills and increase your knowledge in specific industries and areas of focus.

Network, network, network.

You’ve heard the saying, “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” There’s certainly truth to that, especially when it comes to hunting for a job. Connecting with people, whether they are in marketing or business people in general, is how you start to build your network and gain excellent communications and interpersonal skills. And when connecting with people, don’t ask them if they know of job openings. Ask for 30 minutes of their time to share about their company or industry, advice they have for entering the workforce, and other people they recommend you talk to.

Start building your network with your college professors. Ask them if they know any professionals they can introduce you to. Ask friends and family to introduce you to people they may know in the industry or at local organizations. Attend events hosted by business and trade associations, such as the American Advertising Federation. Get active on LinkedIn, connect with professionals, and ask for their advice on career opportunities in their company or industry.

Be willing to work on projects.

To get your foot in the door and build up your resume, offer to do a project as a freelancer. This allows you to showcase your work and talent while giving you the experience of working for an agency or company. It also shows your enthusiasm and commitment to working hard and doing what it takes to stand out and make a difference.

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