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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

Top 10 jobs after college

10 min read
Top 10 jobs after college
Artwork by:Sasha Knokova
Some students understandably don’t worry too much about getting a job after college, but others plan their first career moves meticulously. Here are ten popular jobs for someone who has just left college. You need to start somewhere.

Some may wonder about the point of all those years of education when they struggle to get a job after college, but you need to have faith that all that brain training and intellectual discipline will come good for you at some point.

Many do not land their dream job immediately after college. Having said this, there are many lessons to be learned in even the most common roles. What you get out of the job depends on what you put in. Whether you are an admin assistant or a sales associate, post-college work life can get off to a great start if you put yourself out there, take some risks, and learn from those around you.

In this blog, we look at some of the most common jobs after college and what they involve. There are few requirements in terms of college major for most of these roles, although part-time work experience during college will help your cause. In this blog, we’ll look at:

  • How important is the first job after college?
  • Top 10 jobs after college
  • What if I want to run my own business after college?

Most importantly, remember that you are on your own journey. Resist the temptation to compare yourself with others. You never know when opportunities may come along, so put your best foot forward and go after the job that feels right for you at this moment in time.

How important is the first job after college?

While the first job after college can prove crucial in setting the direction for the first decade or so of your working life, employers understand that this is a period for young professionals to explore what they want out of their careers. Gone are the days of being in a “career for life.” As long as you can show that you have added incremental value for your employers, the first job after college need not hamstring you to a certain career path.

Whatever the first job, the most important experience is the formality of turning up to work every day and the responsibilities that it entails. You can build professional networks and connections that may help to shape your career going forward. Studies have shown that a successful first job after college has a positive impact on the following years of work.

Top 10 jobs after college

While there are a huge variety of roles that may suit a recent college leaver, here are ten of the most common that do not require a significant amount of experience.

1. Retail sales associate

Retail sales associates work in retail stores helping to replenish stock levels and serve customers, balancing operational and sales activities to maintain customer satisfaction. The ability to work in a team is important. The requirement for product knowledge varies depending on the sector. You will be expected to work with a wide range of retail technology.

Key skills: customer service, listening, product knowledge, sales orientation, dependability.

Average salary: $30,200

2. Admin assistant

Administrative assistants provide admin support to enable efficient office operations; answering calls, scheduling meetings, and completing admin tasks for a variety of stakeholders. You might be managing travel arrangements one minute and ordering equipment the next. Are you the type of person to get involved in everything and anything?

Key skills: managing processes and people, analysis, inventory control, and communication.

Average salary: $44,312

3. Marketing specialist

When you provide support to the marketing department, your day will be filled with presentations, brand campaigns, performance reporting, social media curation, and company branding. The role is highly varied. As technology takes over the more mundane aspects of the role, the requirement for creativity is growing.

Key skills: written and oral communication, creativity, organization, interpersonal skills

Average salary: $46,124

4. Junior project manager

Some projects will go off the rails scarily quickly if there isn’t someone to take note of the details and knit everything together. Coordinating strategic projects involves resolving problems, identifying trends, determining potential improvements, and implementing change. You also need an eagle eye for the financial impact of the team’s decisions.

Key skills: organizing others, presentations, critical thinking, budget tracking, negotiating

Average salary: $55,729

5. Teaching assistant

Teaching assistants may be embarking on an incredibly rewarding career. As a graduate, you have just finished your education. Maybe it is time to contribute to the education of the next generation. Amongst other things, you will support lessons, create teaching plans, prepare teaching materials, mark schoolwork, and work directly with students.

Key skills: Good with kids, literacy & numeracy, communication, subject matter expertise

Average salary: $29,600

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6. Financial analyst

The business is counting on you to analyze current and past data and make suggestions to inform business decisions. Your work may center around cost analysis, P&L optimization, and project budgeting. Data will be at the heart of everything you do – a focus on detail is essential. Financial analysts are the gatekeepers of sound financial practice.

Key skills: Finance and analysis, problem solving, detail orientation, influencing, organization

Average salary: $63,392

7. Social media manager

Acquiring customers and clients over social media is a competitive venture where only the most determined and the most creative succeed. If you do your market research and target your activity suitably, the sky is your limit. Reaching people isn’t so hard. Retaining their attention is a whole different matter. Social media managers are marketing gurus.

Key skills: Social media skills, creativity, customer focus, tech-savviness, networking

Average salary: $49,407

8. Research assistant

A research assistant is the intellectual workhorse of the team. When one of the lead researchers has a hunch, you are the one to investigate, but this does not mean that your thinking is constrained. Using data to construct models that support your hypotheses, you may uncover breakthroughs that only the most intense research allows.

Key skills: data modeling, applied research methods, statistical analysis, report writing

Average salary: $36,929

9. Junior data analyst

Developing and managing information systems to support business decisions is the role of the junior data analyst. You will likely be keen on data analysis and will have studied computer science, so this is your perfect introduction to the world of big data. You will work closely with engineering teams to design the most suitable data architecture.

Key skills: data architecture, big data experience, spark, hiveSQL, data analytics software

Average salary: $57,608

10. Intern

While not permanent employees, successful interns may be taken on at a later point. This is the perfect introduction to the world of work. While interns are there to help those around them, they often learn so much from their more experienced colleagues. Interns also often ask questions that only an outsider can ask. Curiosity is a superpower.

Key skills: organization, communication, customer focus, adaptability, positivity

Average salary $35,254

Starting your own business after college

It is unlikely that you will graduate and begin a start-up business the next day. Many young entrepreneurs will have been testing and proving their fledgling business ideas part-time during their education so that once they come out of college they already have an idea of what might work for them. 

Gone are the days of students being restricted to bar work and holiday gigs. Many successful businesses actually started at the college desk, discussed with friends around a beer, and road-tested whilst burning the midnight study oil. If you have a burning desire to plow your own furrow after your studies and have a financial cushion to fall back on, go for it. Future employers may admire your courage.

Key takeaways

Whatever job you take after college, you can be sure that there will be a lot to learn. Working life is a shock for any recent student, so ease yourself into the workplace gently.

  • Pick a job that will teach you skills for your desired career.
  • Choose an industry that interests you – passion is important.
  • Think carefully about how you present your lack of work experience.
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