Congratulations! You’re enrolled in an online university, taking your classes, and on your way to that infamous degree that will help raise your earning potential and give you multiple options for a career. Now, what’s next?

Before beginning classes towards your online university degree, you probably gave a lot of thought to the area of study you wanted to pursue and what career path you wanted to take. And, if you’re like most students, you’ve probably changed your mind a few times along the way. Whether you’re certain of what job you’d like to have after graduation or if you’re still undecided, career planning should be something you continue to focus on throughout your online university experience.

Develop a Plan

Maybe you already know your career goals, but how do you get there? By developing a career plan you can focus on exactly what it is that you want to do and spell out the steps you need to take – relieving a bit of the anxiety of getting there.

• Consider your interests, skills and strengths to narrow your career options down to just a few specific positions.
• Research the requirements needed for those positions. Do you need a specific online university degree? Experience from an internship? Additional training or certification?

Explore Your Options

As technology and industries advance, the job market continues to change. Positions may exist today that you never even dreamed of before deciding to get your online university degree. That being said, it may be beneficial for all students to explore their career options prior to graduation.

• Talk with your academic advisor or professors. These professionals are immersed in their fields and are constantly receiving the latest news on employment opportunities. Additionally, they should be able to give you personalized advice since they have seen your strengths and weaknesses throughout your university experience.
• Contact your online university’s career center. The people who work in this office are trained to think like a hiring employer, so they will be able to help you with everything from your resume to a job search. They know what positions are available in every field and may be able to help you determine what career best suits you.
• Review job descriptions on job search websites. There are a lot of online job databases out there and they all have very detailed descriptions of positions available, nationwide. With a little searching you can find salary range, training requirements and past experience needed for the jobs you find interesting.

Get Prepared

• Perfect your interviewing technique. Job interviews, like public speaking, can make anyone a little nervous. Practicing your interviewing techniques with professors, family, students, or other professionals can help prepare you and calm the jitters you may have prior to a big job interview.
• Create the perfect resume. A concise, organized resume is your key to getting an interview. Learn the necessary details to include and how to highlight your strengths in order to have the best chance of standing out. Have an advisor or someone in your intended career field read over your resume and provide you with constructive feedback.
• Draft a cover letter. A cover letter states why you are the best candidate for a position and serves as an opening to your resume. It should be very well-written and focus on your qualifications. To learn more about cover letters and resumes check out http://www.gradpower.com.
• Make a list of personal and professional references. Many employers will ask for references of both a personal and professional nature. Usually relatives are not permitted to be references. Ask a few contacts ahead of time whether they would feel comfortable providing a reference for you, so that they are prepared if they are contacted.

Start Applying

Now that you have your online university degree, you’re ready to start applying for positions that interest you. Keep in mind that the process can be a long and sometimes frustrating one. You may have to spend many hours searching for worthwhile positions and then several more sending out resumes and cover letters. It may take weeks to hear from employers about your application, or you may never hear from them at all. It is important to stick with it, though. Here are some great resources for finding a new position after receiving your online university degree:

• Contact your online university’s alumni association
• Local employment office
• Check your local newspaper’s want ads
• Browse online job websites
• Ask family and friends for any recommendations

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