Strategies for Leveraging Your Degree

So you received your diploma—congratulations! Now, you are ready to embark on a new journey. The benefits of earning a college education include better-paying, higher-skilled jobs, and opportunities for career advancement. Below are a few strategies to help you leverage your degree and advance in your career.

Set Goals
Decide early the kind of organizations or industries that are a good fit for your background, skills, and experience. Be strategic about the kind of companies you want to target, and then set goals for the types of positions you want to acquire at these organizations.

Understand Who You Are
It is important to know your natural tendencies and preferences. When starting down a new career path or preparing for career advancement, you are more likely to find a more fulfilling role when you are aware of your values, skills, and interests. Having a full awareness of these things can help you identify job opportunities that are a unique match for your background. This can help you make a more smooth, successful transition.

Build Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand is about who you are and what you want to be known for—both online and in-person. Identify what makes you, you. Establishing your personal brand will help you with making a good first impression. First impressions are the most lasting impressions, and you only get one chance to make a good one.

Find a Mentor
As a new graduate, you may want to consider connecting with someone who can provide guidance, motivation, and emotional support throughout your professional journey. If you are entering into a new career field, find a mentor that is in that industry. They can offer you valuable advice on what it takes to get ahead, help you identify skills gaps, and suggest expertise you may need to obtain to help you be more successful.

Make Sure People Know About Your Successes
If you have been involved in key projects within your organization, others may not be aware. Ask your manager for permission to share some details of your success. You can also share beyond the workplace. Your LinkedIn profile is a great place to include details and even attach an example of a project.  

Make Connections
Reach out to your network on a regular basis. Make an effort to engage with other people, and remember that it is not just about what you can get, but what you can give. To make a lasting connection, you will need to be helpful and generous. Look for opportunities to give advice and expertise. You will be known as a resource for them.   

Now that you’ve earned your degree, it’s time to put it to work to take that next step in your career. Use these tips and let us know what you find to be most valuable in your professional journey!

Keep in mind that UMUC Career Services is available to help you in every stage of your career. Click here to set up an appointment with a UMUC Career Advising Specialist.

Rhoda Smackum is a career advising specialist at University of Maryland University College. She is an associate certified career coach and a certified master of career services. Her areas of expertise include career transition, career exploration and job search strategy.