What Now? ZGK Foundation's Advice for 2018 Grads

The ZGK Foundation is fortunate to support graduating students who are on the verge of taking the leap into their next chapter of life. The Annual ZGK Awards have helped graduating seniors from Salisbury University to pay student loans, move to take their dream job, and even purchase their first interview suit.

This past April, Board Member Jerry Knight and his colleague, Bob Smith, met with the graduating seniors of Salisbury University's, Kappa Sigma - Pi Sigma chapter, for some real talk about life after college and how to navigate the job market. From Interview Prep to the Do’s and Dont’s of your first job, here are Jerry & Bob’s tips for 2018 Grads.

Interviewing

Do Your Research

  • Who will you be meeting with? Use LinkedIn and the company’s website to get some information on your interviewer, their role at the company, and any connections you might have.

  • What is the company’s elevator pitch? What does the company do and why do they do it? Who are their competitors? How does the position you are interviewing for fit into the big picture and future plans? If you can’t find the answers to these questions online, be sure to reference your research and ask for clarity in the interview.

Dress to Impress

  • Business attire is standard for most interviews. This may mean a suit and could include an appropriate dress for women. The culture of the company is important to consider, but even if the day to day attire is casual, you should always err on the side of overdressed for an interview. If you are working with a recruiter, it is appropriate to ask about the office dress code and they will likely give you some pointers on interview day attire.

  • Presentation is more than just your clothes. Ensure that you look professional from head to toe. This includes covering  any tattoos and removing any visible piercings on the face or body.

Actual Interview

  • Practice answering questions. Be prepared to explain why you are interested in the position and what makes you the best candidate. If you don’t have any relevant job or educational experience, be prepared to tell a story about how another life experience (sports, volunteering, etc.)  has helped prepare you for the role.

  • Be concise in your answers. It’s better to take a pause and think about your answer than it is to ramble in circles around your point. If you feel like you rambled, check for comprehension asking: “Did that answer your question?”

  • If you don’t understand the question or don’t know an answer right away, it’s fine to take a pause and/or ask for clarification. “That’s an interesting question” or “Let me make sure I understand your question…”

Post Interview

  • Follow Up
    • Send a thank you note to everyone that you interviewed with. An email works, but a handwritten note or ecard is a great touch.
      • Your Thank You should be a formal note, and should not include slang, curse words, or grammatical errors. Have someone you trust read through any communication before you send it.

So You Have the Job - Now What?

Communication

  • Understand the tools and expectations around communication methods. When in doubt - over communicate: If you aren’t sure that an email requires a response, acknowledge that it was received.

  • Make sure that you have complete understanding of the task/project/ job you are assigned. When in doubt, repeat the request. Ex: Just so I understand, you would like me to..].. It sounds like I should start with… would you agree?

  • Ask for feedback. Some organizations have regularly scheduled reviews and manager check ins. Regular feedback can also be less formal. For example, you can ask your manager if there was anything they would have done differently in situation you found challenging. Your manager wants you to be successful and will appreciate when you ask thoughtful questions about how you can improve.

Commitment

  • Under promise and over deliver. If you commit to a deadline, you need to meet that deadline. If you find that you will be unable to do this, suggest a realistic completion date and/or another item that could be re-prioritized in order for you to meet the original deadline.

Learn the Norms

  • “Who you know can get you through the front door, how you act will determine what floor you’re on.” - Bob Smith.

  • You will quickly understand what is normal for your office culture. What does casual dress mean? Make sure you dress business-casual for the first “casual Friday” and then base future wear on what you notice.

Pay it Forward

Save money

  • Set realistic goals for what you’d like to see in your savings account by year-end. Slowly chip away at those goals and monitor your progress.

Credit

  • Companies like Capital One have lower tier credit cards perfect for recent graduates looking to build credit. If you waited until post-grad, don’t wait any longer!

Give back

  • In recent years, ZGK Salisbury award recipients have started giving back by contributing a portion of their award to their Kappa Sigma Chapter. Even though college is over, there are still a multitude of volunteer opportunities in every community. If you’re moving to a new city, try finding a local branch of your favorite organization. This is a great way to put down roots in a new place and can help build your network. Who knows where those connections may lead!