Expert Outlook

5 Tips for Recent Graduates: Landing Your Dream Job Right Out of College

Author-Brittani-Sieversby Brittani SieversJun. 14, 2023

Unsure what lies ahead after college? The prospect of entering the job market can be an overwhelming experience. But what if you could land your dream job right out of the gate? In season 1, episode 11 of the Southland Speaks podcast, Nikki-Ann Bosque, Project Engineer II, recounts her experience as a recent graduate joining Southland and how a chance introduction during a career fair led to her building a rewarding career track at Southland. In this episode, Nikk-Ann shares her perspective and offers tips that recent graduates can apply during their job search. 

Know what interests you, and what doesn't

With her mechanical engineering degree from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Nikki-Ann knew based on prior internships that a typical desk job wasn't for her. She craved something more hands-on — something where she could live her passion, but wasn't sure where to look. 

"I knew I didn't want to sit behind a desk all day and be secluded, and that's what I thought what engineering was," Nikki-Ann said. "I like the engineering process and figuring stuff out." 

During a career fair, she stumbled across the Southland booth, which prompted a conversation. The welcoming culture and interesting job opportunities drew her in. "They didn't have an opening in the design department, but they did have an opening for a project engineer. So, I said sure, let's try it out, and I interviewed." She added, "I felt connected to the people I interviewed with right away."

What's the secret to landing your dream job? 

One point to emphasize is the importance of researching the company before interviewing, which can help applicants frame their questions and demonstrate an interest in the job. The more curious and invested you are in the company, the more impactful your interview will be. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about not only the job opening, but also the organization to which you're applying. Throughout the interview process, use the conversations with different team members to drive your conversation and don't shy away from asking questions.

"The one question I asked everyone in my interview was, 'do you like working here'?" Nikki-Ann shared that one interviewer responded that they'd been with Southland for more than 15 years and that it was the only company they had worked for. "Well, if that doesn't say something — I'm guessing it wouldn't be a bad place to work," she laughed.

Company culture that supports you

Discovering the right company culture is key to finding your niche and exploring opportunities beyond your role. Nikki-Ann expressed the support she felt while interviewing and how the open culture helped her grow professionally while in her role. She was also impressed with how employees were forthcoming about their experiences and what they enjoyed about working at Southland. The focus on teamwork and providing a safe space helps employees feel supported and empowered to feel comfortable in their roles while identifying clear steps toward growth. 

"Having everyone be forthcoming and articulate what they like about Southland gave me that sense of comfortability and support." 

If you're supported, you'll love what you do

Nikki-Ann expressed that entering a role without previous internship experience isn't a barrier to success. Continually leaning, having a curious and humble mindset, and understanding individual needs and connections are essential. Being supported by your colleagues and supervisor allows you to grow personally and professionally. Communication is vital when interacting with a wide net of individuals and it's essential to know how to interact with different personalities. Knowing how to connect with people and providing support, in turn, will help you achieve your goals.

It's common for people to switch jobs, but it's crucial to evaluate if the company culture or the field itself isn't a fit. Nikki-Ann noted that she has friends who are on their third or fourth role out of college because they don't feel that they're in the right niche. She interjected by asking, "Is engineering not for you or is the company not for you?" She went on to say, "experience can challenge one's perception of a dream job, but with the right team support, you can succeed."  

Nikki-Ann shared that unlike her friends, she feels supported and said, "I can be open with my supervisor, I can be open about how I'm feeling, and I don't get judged for asking questions. This is a safe space, and this is the space where it's okay not to know everything. Having that sense of team and togetherness helps propel my growth and understanding."

Be yourself — if you know what you want, go after it

By being yourself and finding a career that aligns with your passions, you can create a sense of purpose and satisfaction in your work life. Whether you are just starting out in your career or considering a change, don't be afraid to take risks and try new things. Who knows? Your next endeavor might just be your dream role. Ultimately, when you prioritize being yourself, you'll set yourself up for a fulfilling and rewarding work life. 

"I personally don't want to leave. I think I'm very fortunate that I found something that I love and people I love to work with."

To hear the full interview or more episodes from Southland Speaks, listen here.