How to prepare for a career after college in just three steps

Step one

Ask your professors, career services officials, family/friends, etc. if they will grab a cup of coffee with you (they will).

Start off asking about their background:

  • How did they get into their field?
  • Where did they go to school?
  • What was their major?
  • In hindsight, what would they tell their 18-year-old self?
  • What was their first job?
  • How did they get their first job?
  • What did they like and dislike about their first job?
  • How did their career progress from there and why did they choose that route?

Next, explain what you are passionate about:

  • This is what I am passionate about and why.
  • I am motivated by these three things…. (Money, status, decision-making ability, development, making a difference, etc.)
  • I want to be with this size of company.
  • Ideally I would like to live in this part of the country.
  • I would prefer to travel or not travel.
  • Then ask them what career field they feel could align with your interests.

After the conversation, ask if he/she knows anyone in the career field you discussed. Then kindly ask for an introduction.

Step two

Meeting with introduced professional in your ideal field.

Start with their background:

  • Where they went to school?
  • What was their first job after graduation?
  • How did they find it?
  • What did they like and dislike about it?
  • What advice would they give their 18-year-old self?

Then learn about their current job:

  • What is their average day like?
  • What traits/qualities do they feel is a requirement for this field?
  • What do they enjoy most about their job?
  • What do they find most challenging?

Ask for Referral to HR/Recruiter:

I truly appreciate your time and insight today. It was extremely helpful speaking to you and I feel the company you work for aligns well with my personality and aspirations. Would there be any opportunity to speak with a hiring decision maker?

Step Three

Interview with hiring manager:

Build Rapport:

I have heard so many great things about your company through (referral source). Specifically (something about company you have learned) is why I am so passionate about exploring a career with this company.

Ask questions:

  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • What does a typical day look like for the position I am applying for?
  • What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate?
  • What will be considered success for this position in 90 days?
  • What is the top priority for the person in this position over the next three months?
  • Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?
  • What are some challenges that will face the person filling this position?
  • What, if any, are your hesitations about my qualifications?
  • What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?
  • Do you offer continuing education and professional training?
  • Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
  • What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?

Reinforce why you are a good fit based on the above answers:

  • My skills are (repeat skills for ideal candidate).
  • Address how you could help the team.
  • Address their qualification concerns if any.
  • Stress your work ethic, grit, positivity, reliability, resilience, competitiveness, ability to adapt, trustworthiness, ambition, and ability to work well with others.
  • Most importantly explain your PASSION and enthusiasm for this position.

Next Steps:

  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
  • Is there anything else I can provide you with that would be helpful?
  • Can I answer any final questions for you?

Congrats- Chances are, you are hired!


Ryan Rao is a Principal of Apex Franchise Development Group and is a franchise development expert who has grown multiple franchise based businesses into national and international brands. Franchising has allowed him to help individuals realize their dreams of business ownership, while permitting them to experience the independence, flexibility, and freedom that comes with being a business owner. He also serves as a franchise consultant, and is a personal growth advocate.

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