How New Grads Build Great Careers


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Jenni Luke, CEO of Step Up, shares advice for kick-starting your career after college.

Connect: Professional Women’s Network is online community with more than 325,000 members that discusses issues relevant to women and their success. The free LinkedIn group powered by Citi also features videos interviews with influential businesswomen, live Q&As with experts and slideshows with career advice. To learn more and join the conversation in the largest women's group on LinkedIn, visit

Published in: Career, Business
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How New Grads Build Great Careers

  1. Jenni Luke, CEO of Step Up, shares advice for kick-starting your career. HOW NEW GRADS BUILD GREAT CAREERS BROUGHT TO YOU BY
  2. Meet Jenni Luke! Jenni recently answered questions from the members of Connect: Professional Women’s Network. Here is some of her most popular advice! Jenni Luke is CEO of Step Up, a nonprofit membership organization inspiring women to inspire girls. Under Jenni’s leadership, Step Up empowers girls from under-resourced communities to become confident, college-bound, career- focused and ready to join the next generation of professional women. Jenni also sits on the advisory board for the National Conference on Girls' Education and frequently speaks on various topics affecting women and girls.
  3. Transitioning from college to a career means building your skills, experience and network.
  4. You should also maintain and build relationships with professors and others at your school who can serve as references for job interviews and perhaps open doors. These relationships should not be overlooked.
  5. First things first: Take inventory of your skill set, being careful not to undervalue the things that come easily to you. List all the things that make you great––hard skills as well as ‘soft’ skills. If you’re great at building consensus amongst difficult personalities, that is a very important skill and shouldn’t be left off. Share this list with your closest friends or work colleagues and ask them to add to it.
  6. ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS ! TO EXPLORE: -  What do you like to do during the day? -  What have you enjoyed most about prior jobs? What have you not liked? -  What have you been consistently told you are good at? -  What do you enjoy in your free time? -  What do you like to learn about? -  What piques your curiosity?
  7. Strengths + Passions = Career Path. After gaining clarity on what your skills are and which you’d like to use and want to build, think about what jobs you might want to transfer these skills to. Begin building the story of how your past experience points to desired traits in the job posting.
  8. Challenge yourself. If you are experienced in everything they are looking for, then you are likely not reaching high enough. Seek something that you are now under-qualified for and express your desire to learn.
  9. No candidate has 100% of what the employer is looking for. Just because they say their ‘ideal’ candidate will have 3 to 5 years of experience does not mean they will not consider someone just out of school. Explain how your experience in internships, part-time work and school translate to experience in the areas they’re looking for.
  10. Don’t doubt yourself. It can be challenging to find your footing when you’re new to the professional world, especially in fields that are very competitive or where women are not the norm. Be persistent and confident in your abilities while interning, interviewing and during the job hunt.
  11. Attitude is everything. Keep in mind that part of any job qualification is excitement about the position and a desire to learn. If you can express that, you may leap in front of someone with more technical experience but with less enthusiasm.
  12. Applying to multiple fields means creating multiple resumes. Speak in their language about how your skills are transferable. No doubt your work history and skill set are impressive, but tailoring it to fit the needs of each audience will be more effective at getting in the door.
  13. Show–rather than tell–an employer where you want to go. Even if you aren’t interning or working in exactly the department you are interested in, you are still in a position to learn a lot. Focus on what you are learning and what you bring to the job. Add value to the company by taking what they've given you and turning it into insights that will help them do better.
  14. A tip for connecting with colleagues: Ask yourself how can you help them do their job better. Don’t do it for them, but add your thinking in a way that engages them while demonstrating your capabilities. Same in an interview process: What have you learned about the company and what is your unique take on their work? Show them the value of your input.
  15. Learn from those you look up to. Network at the company where you intern, and not just with peers, but with supervisors and others. Create your own opportunities to meet people and learn from them. Asking someone for 15 minutes of their time to share career advice is most often seen as a compliment.
  16. Connect in new ways. Volunteer doing something you love and get to know people in another context. You will meet like- minded people who may become personal and professional contacts.
  17. If you’ve learned all you can at a job, the culture is not a great fit, or you just made a mistake and are working in a field that doesn’t interest you, then by all means move on. Just make sure you’re ready to explain your work history in a comprehensive way when interviewing for your next move.
  18. Life is a giant experiment. Understanding that trial and error is part of your career is an excellent place to start.
  19. The good news is that whatever experience you gain at this point will teach you something new that you can take forward with you.
  20. ©2014 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Join the conversation! Connect: Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi, is an online community on LinkedIn that helps women achieve the careers they want and discuss the issues relevant to their success For more great insights from Connect members, check out the discussion: Hi, I’m Jenni Luke, CEO of Step Up, here to answer questions about entering the workforce. Visit for more information and to join the group for free! 1: Rawpixel/Shutterstock 2: Photo courtesy of SUWN 3: tedconference/Flickr 4: pio3/Shutterstock 5: Natasa Adzic/Shutterstock 6: Peshkova/Shutterstock 7: tedconference/Flickr 8: Eillen/Shutterstock 9: baranq/Shutterstock 10: Andrey Bondarets/Shutterstock 11: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock 12: Ammentorp Photography /Shutterstock 13: romrf/Shutterstock 14: Rawpixel/Shutterstock 15: Stuart Jenner/Shutterstock 16: tedconference/Flickr 17: JJ Studio/Shutterstock 18: BrAt82/Shutterstock 19: Sunny studio/Shutterstock PHOTO CREDITS:
  21. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK©2014 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 21