Five Things I Wish I’d Known as a New College Graduate

As a new graduating class prepares to leave Auburn for a bright future, I remember my own college graduation. I felt unsure about what to do next as I faced life after college. Here are five things I wish I’d known when I first entered the “real world,” bachelor degree in hand.

1. You still might have no idea what you’re doing. And that’s ok.
Imagine that your best friend just landed his dream job, a position directly related to his major (and one he’s dreamed about since he was eight years old). You’re terrified because you majored in something you really liked, but have no idea what you’re doing next. Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Don’t worry, because here’s a secret your friend doesn’t know: Almost everyone changes their career path every five years. This means that even if you try out a new job and hate it, it’s likely you won’t be there that long. That said…

2. One opportunity leads to another.
You will have choices to make in your personal and professional life. Lots and lots of choices—even if it seems that you’re facing a dead-end, career-wise. You may not be able to use Jedi mind tricks to force a potential employer to offer you an interview, but you do have the power to get to know the people at your current position, volunteer at an organization you care about, or request an informational interview. Be wise about your choices—because you’re making career choices all the time. How to be wise about choices…? Well…

3. You should get to know yourself.
Now is a perfect time to assess about your values (I know, you just want to know what you should do for a job. But trust me, you can (and should!) get to know yourself at the same time). What, in your opinion, constitutes a life well-lived? What professionals do you admire and why? What do you like doing? What makes you feel alive? Use this data to guide your choices. Say “yes” to assignments, positions, and relationships that bring you a little closer to fulfilling a value. Understand that you might have to make some compromises along the way because…

4. There is no such thing as the perfect career (or life). 
Once you start getting to know yourself, you’ll discover that there is no way you can have everything you want out of life, both personally and professionally. This is an unalterable fact. This is why it is important to not only discover your values, but intentionally prioritize your values and then act accordingly.


5. The Career Center Isn’t Just for Resumes
At the end of my senior year, I visited the career center just once. I wanted to learn how to write a resume. Little did I know there was so much more that university career centers have to offer! We can teach you how to reach out to professionals, show you online job search tools you may not have heard of, facilitate a discussion about prioritizing your values, and help you practice interview skills. We serve alumni up to five years after graduation, so now is the time to begin using our services (if you haven’t already!).

Congratulations on your graduation from Auburn! 

Post Submitted By:
Shari Black
Counseling Psychology PhD Student
Career Center Graduate Assistant

Student Perspective: The Gallup Interview

Ali, a student assistant in the Career Center, recently participated in a Gallup interview as a part of her internship interview process. These tips can help you prepare for a similar type of interview situation.

A Gallup Interview is an interview to determine your strengths and personalities. This is designed so the company you are applying for knows your strengths and will determine if they match the strengths the company wants. Before the interview, I researched and asked my other peers who have had a Gallup Interview before. Each person I talked to said the same thing. They said you cannot prepare for this, you just have to be yourself because they will ask you the same questions three different ways and are wanting the same response. However, I did do some research on and found some questions that they may potentially ask me. But the best advice was, to just be yourself. During the interview my interviewer was very animated and enthusiastic about the questions he was asking. He did ask the same questions three different ways on multiple occasions. The questions ranged from yes/no questions to short answers and during the yes/no questions he would then, most of the time, ask me to elaborate or give examples. When you are asked to elaborate or give examples this is the time to impress them because the interviewer does not have your resume in front of them and they do not have any prior information about yourself. This gives you the opportunity to sell yourself! The interview was also rapid questioning, so you need to be constantly on your toes and listening carefully. They also love when you are assertive, confident and answer with enthusiasm. Overall, I enjoyed the interview because it was different paced. Advice for future Gallup Interviewees: BE YOURSELF AND SELL YOURSELF!

Post by: Alexandra Britton
Employer Relations Student Assistant

Part-Time Job: Big Time Gain

College is expensive. 

This concept is not a new one; we all know, little things add up quickly. We like to indulge on late night snacks, the daily Starbucks coffee, and the occasional concert or two, in addition to the cost of tuition, fees, books, living expenses, and maybe even the occasional parking ticket.  The university experience may seem priceless, but when you add it up, the average student has to look for ways to offset these expenses.  This reality often results in the practical consideration of part-time employment. 

 According to the U.S. Census of 2011, nationwide there are 19.7 million undergraduate students, and 72 percent of these scholars are employed.  On the Auburn University campus, more than 5,000 students are employed on-campus, and many more off-campus in our local Auburn and Opelika community.  These students have embraced the challenge of working while enrolled, and while it does offset their surmounting expenses, there are other reasons to pursue part-time work.

So, other than money, why work?

Build Transferable Skills
Employers look to hire recent college graduates with demonstrated competency.  Employers want graduates with experience – “2 to 3 years” is often the way it is cited in the endless entry-level job descriptions sorted through during the full-time job search.  The question often considered for recent graduates is, “How do we gain experience if they will not hire us?”  This answer has been knocking on your door the entire time; the experience does not necessarily have to be directly in line with the position you are seeking, rather you need to translate the skills gained from part-time employment, internships, and other valuable experiences into ways you are prepared to take on this new challenge.  Part-time employment (regardless of the industry) demonstrates your ability to verbally communicate, work in a team structure, solve problems, and prioritize (to name a few).   It is important that you sell yourself accurately when the time comes to apply for your full-time position by demonstrating these skills on your resume and cover letter.

Create Balance
When considering whether or not a college job is for you, the big decision should not necessarily be where you work, rather how often; balancing your schedule and becoming an expert time manager is not always an easy task.  With academic demands alongside co-curricular activities, initially it may appear that part-time employment may only add to those stressors rather than alleviate your burdens.  However, part-time employment can assist you with balancing your time and help you find moderation in the midst of an otherwise hectic schedule. Auburn University encourages student employees to work no more than a total of 20 hours per week in an effort to maintain a solid focus on academic programs and to promote academic success.

Create a Social Network
When we think of social networking, our first thoughts may go to the unreasonable amount of social media apps we continuously glance at throughout the day.  However, think outside the realm of your phone or laptop when considering the creation of your social network.  There is some truth in the old adage, “It is not always about what you know -- it is who you know.”  Through part-time employment and other skill building opportunities, you can start to shape a network of connections that will be great references and mentors throughout your career. 

Now that you have considered reasons to pursue part-time employment, you are most likely anxiously trying to figure out the next steps to finding your ideal job.  The Career Center provides a unique service called the Tiger Recruiting Link which assists students with locating on and off-campus part-time employment.  Check out the Tiger Recruiting Link at; sign in with Auburn user ID and password and boom! Jobs are at your fingertips, waiting for you to apply. 

The extra money you will earn as a part-time employee will certainly be nice, but the other benefits you will gain will greatly enhance your college experience and better prepare you for what is next beyond Auburn University.  So, stop sitting here reading this – get on the Tiger Recruiting Link and find a job!

By: Lauren Hobbs
Student Employment Coordinator

How Not to Dine and Dash... Your Hopes and Dreams Upon the Rocks of Unemployment and Shame: An Interviewers Guide to the Meal Interview

Your interview has presently been ongoing since 8:00 AM that morning.  Volley after volley of questions have been hurled at you.  You have framed and re-framed in innumerable ways the value you would bring to the organization, deftly discussed your weakness without intentionally taking aim at your foot with a high caliber bullet, and gracefully recovered from that ever so awkward moment when your mind mercilessly emptied and left you unknowing your own name (much less where you see yourself five years from now).  Now as you sit listening to your potential supervisor extol to you in meticulous detail how they are a magnificent human being, your thoughts wander to the perceived oasis that is the lunch portion of your interview.  First, stop mentally wandering.  Second, you aren’t out of the woods yet.

As long as you are with an agent of the organization you are being interviewed.  Strolls through the hallway, small-talk during breaks during the day, and especially at the dining table you are being evaluated, critiqued, and cataloged.  Many an intrepid interviewer has met their demise at the hands of the formal place setting and a too casual response to questioning.  Before we tackle the questions let us first acclimate to our surroundings. 
  1. Place your napkin in your lap while seated.
  2. If you’re unsure which is your drink and bread plate make “b” with your left hand and “d” with your right.  B is for Bread, D is for drink.  Should your interviewer be so uncouth as to take either of yours, discreetly ask your server for a replacement, do not continue the vicious cycle of mannerlessness and steal one of your other dining companion’s items.
  3. As a general rule one should work their way toward the plate with the various forks, spoons, and knives.  Forks on the left, knife on the right (should you be unrolling from a cloth napkin).  The sharp edge of the blade should always be facing your plate.
  4. Do not concern yourself with the wine glasses.  You are on an interview, not an evening on the town.  Politely decline if encouraged to do so, your friends may love the intoxicated version of you, Ferguson from accounting likely will not.
  5. Order something simple enough that you do not need the finely honed concentration and dexterity of a trained neurosurgeon so as to eat without spoiling your clothes.  Ultimately you are here to talk, not engorge yourself.

Knowing what to do mechanically at the table is only part of the puzzle, you must also have effective conversation.  The food portion of the interview is, thankfully, a more casual opportunity to discuss you.  In many respects it is flattering to be the center of attention, but when you remember that your words carry the weight of your future upon their syllables it is no longer quite as fun.  Often employers and potential colleagues are looking to see how you would fit into the already established office culture.  As clich├ęd as the advice may sound, it is important during this stage to be yourself.  Authenticity and earnestness are important character traits, and traits which individuals who conduct many interviews will have a talent in discerning in their potential employees.  You might say that’s all well and good, but what do I actually talk about?  If it would make your grandmother blush or be uncomfortable, it is probably not in good taste to discuss at the table.  Furthermore, allow your host to lead the discussion, and if you don’t know anything about the topic at hand, do not pretend that you do. 

Interviewing is rarely an activity that many of us look forward to, but it holds the opportunity to be an enjoyable experience.  If you’re concerned about your upcoming interview and want to speak more about it feel free to come to the Career Center, and if you’re especially concerned when the when the crab cracker or the honey dipper should be used we can help with that as well.  

The Best of Business Etiquette

Business etiquette provides the framework for creating successful professional relationships. It is essential to make appropriate first impressions, and it all comes down to the way you present yourself. Specific manners and rules are to be followed both in the workplace and in social situations to not only present yourself as a working professional, but also to improve communication and establish respect with other professionals. Business etiquette include both verbal and nonverbal communication, ranging from how you introduce yourself to your body posture at a professional luncheon. Etiquette also benefits the workplace as professionals are learning to work together toward specific tasks and goals in a professional manner. It forms group cohesion so that a diverse set of individuals can successfully work together. So now you may be wondering, what does this business etiquette look like? Here are some tips to help you get started: 

  1. Handshakes
A firm handshake is essential when being introduced to another professional. Always state your full name when introducing yourself. This gesture communicates politeness and approachability which can set the tone for professional relationships. Do not be afraid to smile! You want to come across as a professional, but it is important to be friendly as this will serve as the foundation for building future relationships. If you are seated when being introduced someone, stand to greet them with a firm handshake and a confident smile.

  1. Be On Time
Whether you are attending a meeting or a social event, you want to communicate that you value other’s time, so make sure you are on time. You may consider arriving 5-15 minutes early to ensure you are not late. You can also offer to help set-up or gather any materials to make good impressions. Being on time shows that you are committed and dedicated to your job, and this is a subtle but sufficient way to achieve this.

  1. Meal Manners
There are various “Do’s” and “Do Not’s” when it comes to etiquette during a meal. Throughout the course of the meal, take cues from your host. Do not start eating until they start eating, and make sure you focus on any questions the host may ask you and/or the conversation they are initiating. Place your napkin in your lap, and when you are finished eating, it is proper to place your utensils across your plate. Try and refrain from ordering any “messy” foods or foods that you eat with your hands. Also, do not order the most expensive thing on the menu as the host will most likely be treating you. Visit and access our virtual Job Search Guide for more tips!

  1. Dress for Success
You want to make sure that your attire reflects a suitable level of professionalism. Appropriate attire can give a good first impression and show that you take your job seriously. If you are attending a work-related social event, do not be afraid to ask about the dress code. When in doubt, it is more appropriate to overdress than under-dress, as being under-dressed can communicate a lack of professionalism. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed, without any wrinkles or stains. For more examples of professional attire, visit our Pinterest board ( for the best looks!

  1. Express Appreciation and Gratitude
After an interview or a work-related social event, thank you notes can go a long way. This is your time to let the interviewer or host that you value their time and you are thankful for the opportunity you had to meet with them. With an interview, mention that you look forward to hearing from them in the future to communicate your continued interest in their company. If you are not confident in your handwriting, go ahead and send them an email. If there were multiple interviewers or hosts, make sure to send separate emails to each individual.  

As these are just a few tips, make sure to go to for further information on business etiquette. Following the proper etiquette will help you become a successful professional in your future career. If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything regarding business etiquette, please feel free come in to our office during our walk-in hours or make an appointment to meet with a career counselor. We would be more than happy to help you learn about the best of business etiquette!

Post by: Kaela Jimenez
Career Center Graduate Assistant