By Rachael Smith, Student at Radford University

The past three years of college have flown by so fast for me and my head is filled with just about every emotion available. I’m excited to start a new chapter of my life, I’m anxious to find a job in this disastrous market, I’m sad to leave my friends and – last but not least – I'm stressed about graduation!

Last fall, I was a junior when my adviser told me I could graduate a semester early. I jumped on the chance to save a couple thousand dollars and get a head start on a job hunt before all of the May graduates. However, it hadn’t struck me that there was so much I needed to do before actually graduating. Most seniors have a label called: Senior Year, but for me I had: Spring Junior Year/Fall Senior Year … and I would be done. Besides making a bucket list full of the things I want to do for fun at college before graduation, I practically ran to the Career Services Office as soon as I started my first week of school this fall.

I made an appointment with Career Counselor, John Liptak, who understands the stress that lives within graduating seniors.

"Like any big task at hand, we have to break it down piece by piece," Liptak said.

In order to avoid a panic attack in April of next year, you have to prepare for graduation by taking baby steps.

Perfect Your Resume:
Depending on your major, you might have a special way to create your resume; either way, take it to your university’s career center for someone to look over.

Next, put it out there early!

"While on job search websites, if you see a link that says 'post your resume,' do it. Every time," Liptak said.

He says more and more employees are searching for graduates by finding their resumes online instead of posting a job and receiving countless resumes.

LinkedIn is Your Friend:
LinkedIn is kind of like a professional Facebook. Professional people everywhere are using this to connect.

"Find a company you are interested in working for on LinkedIn and then don’t be afraid to message the manager," Liptak said.

It sounds intimidating, but new graduates have to be aggressive.

"Short and sweet is key," Liptak said. "Just say, 'I'm interested in working for your company. Are you hiring or know anyone who is?'"

Get on Your Feet:
It’s great to have the outlook: "I'll go anywhere. Seriously … anywhere," but it’s important to narrow your spectrum. Where do you really want to be working? On the West Coast? Only big cities? If you are close enough to a company you are serious about applying at, physically go there.

"Walk inside with your resume and introduce yourself," said Johanna Calfee, owner and managing editor of Prototype Media. "We hired our graphic designer because she did that and we knew she was passionate about our company."

Stay Organized and Keep Lists:
Writing down to-do lists really help students who have a lot of their mind and plate. This is a helpful tool to aid a forgetful mind.

"I have become more organized and make notes for everything," said Jennifer Werner, a senior. "From schoolwork to daily activities, I write it all down. I figured it would help me be prepared for post-college life."

Keep calm and finish, college graduates!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net