Top 3 Things Every Graduate Must Do After Commencement

Written by Emily Stark, Career & Employer Outreach Specialist at Ashford University

The graduation stage has been swept off, confetti is in the trash, Ashford alum décor is hung in offices and on car bumpers across the country. Ashford staff and faculty are back to their day-to-day work; I wonder what the graduates are up to?

I volunteered to write this article focusing on post-graduates to address next steps to keep the momentum of graduation moving toward their career development. As I began to research the topic, I found the majority of post-grad literature is directed to young twenty-somethings who are debating whether or not to move back home with their parents. Ashford’s average student age is in the 30’s, and in many cases, Ashford’s non-traditional students ARE the parents having to juggle children, bills, and work whilst embarking on their next steps. The list below is written especially for the non-traditional, life balancing Ashford students and alumni I speak with every day. Here’s your quick, post-grad to do list:

  1. Treat Yo’ Self!

Like many people, you might get swept up in the many things you must do so that you don’t take a moment to breathe and reflect on your accomplishments. Before you move through the next steps, treat yourself! Think back on your time at Ashford, and congratulate yourself on all of your hard work. Make a list of ALL of your accomplishments during your time at Ashford, and find a way to celebrate all that you’ve done. This celebration can benefit you both personally and professionally. Cheers!

  1. Update Everything

Social Media Makeover! Your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles are probably ready for an update. You’ve attended an online university, so people in your network may not know that you have graduated and hold a shiny, new degree, potentially making you eligible for exciting opportunities in your career. An updated profile shares your new degree status with your network, recruiters, and potential employers. Senior Recruitment Business Partner for internal Talent Acquisition Team for McAfee says, “Candidates can help themselves by keeping their profile up to date…If it’s not, there is a huge risk that a recruiter would just lookover the profile and move on to the next (2017, Secrets of the Internal Recruiter: David Cherry at McAffe, com).

Hello, I’m your resume! Remember me? Your resume may have been neglected due to attention being paid to school work. Now that you’ve earned your degree, take the time to update the education section of your resume. If you are transitioning your career, you may add some projects you’ve participated in which align with your career goal. Reference the list you created in step 1. Lily Zhang, a Career Development Specialist at MIT, encourages integrating academic projects in your resume in stating, “It’s important to note that those [academic projects] are fair game and should definitely be included in your resume” (2014, What To Put On Your Resume When You Have No Relevant Work Experience, Displaying your relevant projects and coursework notifies the potential employer that you have education and academic experience in the industry which you’re pursuing.

  1. Identify Your Career Allies!

Are you currently employed and hope to use your degree to grow with your company? You may want to reach out to your human resources department to discuss why you attended Ashford, where you see yourself going in your career and opportunities to grow with the company. The specialists in these departments may be looking for a candidate for your dream role! Opening the line of communication between an HR representative, and potentially your manager, exposes your career goals to important stakeholders. This communication can put you on the path toward creating positive opportunities for your future.

If you’re not currently employed, you have a team of career allies through Ashford University. (That’s me and my colleagues!) We are more than happy to speak with you about unique post-graduation steps toward optimal career success. Reach out to [email protected] for our support!


Graduation is a busy time. It’s important to celebrate, and also to make moves in the right direction. Pat yourself on the back and look toward all of the possibilities which lie before you; you deserve it!



  1. Sundberg, Jorgen. Secrets of the Internal Recruiter: David Cherry at McAfee.
  2. Zhang, Lily. What To Put On Your Resume When You Have No Relevant Work Experience.