3 Tips from Recent Graduates to Save Yourself the Post-Grad Panic Attack

You have two semesters until graduation, a mediocre internship and no set plans for the future – anxiety sets in. Sound familiar? Feeling lost about where to intern or what career path to take?

Two recent graduates, who landed jobs at the largest privately held agency in the world, light the way to show us how to graduate confidently. Whether your goal is to work at an agency or some other career venture, these tips will help anyone journeying into the career world.

Andrew Cook and Krista Winward, in their last year of college, both had a lot going on and no set plans post-graduation. It is hard to figure out what you want to do and what experiences you need to get where you want to be. If you can relate to this feeling, these tips will give you hope.

Andrew Cook behind a PRSSA podium

Andrew Cook when President of PRSSA

1. Get Involved

Senior year of college was a busy and stressful year for Cook and Winward. They were highly involved in many clubs, activities and internships. Cook became the PRSSA National President. Winward worked in her university’s PR firm, while also working on other internships. These experiences helped them gain skills to move from one thing to the next.

Winward and Cook found that all these activities were worth the stress because, ultimately, they led to new opportunities in discovering passions and unearthed potential career paths.

2. Connections Get You in Doors

Photo of Krista Winward

Krista Winward

Cook claims that his involvement in PRSSA as president was the biggest reason he ended up at Edelman. While traveling for PRSSA, he recognized one of the employee experience team members from Edelman while at the airport and was able to connect and get a foot in the door. Making connections and networking is simply building relationships. It is essential to approach and befriend new people, as well as continue to strengthen relationships with the people you have previously connected with.

Winward echoed Cook’s words as she spoke of the people she met at her internship in Salt Lake City and how they helped her make the jump from Utah to Washington D.C. She said to work your connections, “I would email them and say, ‘Here’s my resume, no expectation to share, but feel free to share with your contacts.’” By doing this, she spread her name and landed an internship on Capitol Hill working for (former senator) Jeff Flake.

While in D.C. on this internship, Winward made the effort to go introduce herself to the companies she was applying to and that set her apart as she applied.

3. “Wait for the Best Opportunity”

“It’s worth it to be patient,” said Cook as he reflected on graduation and not starting a job immediately following graduation. He said “you’re not going to have it figured out right away,” it might take a few jobs and internships to find where you want to be.

Cook also suggests to think more about a career than just looking at the job. Keep in mind the long-term perspective and remember, “your first job will have a great impact.”

Be patient and wait for the right opportunity. It is easy to get anxious not knowing the next step but not jumping on the first opening allows you to make sure where you are going is in the direction you want to go.

As a student, I have had many fears about employment after graduation but as I talked with Cook and Winward, I gained more confidence in approaching a career and now look forward to new opportunities and experiences ahead.

Look over these tips and apply them. With patience and your eye set on where you want to be, you will get there!

Progressions shared a similar helpful article about gaining experience in entry-level jobs. Also, a CNBC writer shared additional insights on finding your first job out of college and Forbes has published yet another helpful article with tips going into the job market.


Photo of Natalie BaughNatalie Baugh is a communications student at Brigham Young University, and was feeling lost and stressed approaching her senior year of college and decided to find the secrets of not only surviving but thriving and graduating, confident in whatever lies ahead. She is involved in PRSSA. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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