Copyright - Fastcompany
How to find a great first job
- source: Fastcompany -

So you still have no plans for the fall? Don't worry. Most of your classmates who rushed to sign on with one of the big companies that came to campus had no clue what they were getting into. "Many people accept offers without having any idea what they'll be doing," says Cheryl Matherly, director of career services at Rice University, in Houston, Texas. For those who don't want to be among the clueless, here are a few things to consider.

Narrow your options.
What are your passions? Which industries give you the most exposure to interesting work? When Jason Rosenblatt started his job hunt, in the winter of 1998, he put investment banks, consulting firms, and the commercial bank First Chicago side by side.

"Investment banks have about zero interest in your professional development," Rosenblatt says, recalling horror stories told by friends who put in 100-hour weeks. And, while he knew that consulting would offer him the chance to move from project to project, he figured that he would have little control over what those projects were.

So he chose to become a First Scholar at First Chicago, signing up to do six-month rotations in various departments while the bank put him through business school. The result: good pay, great exposure, nice long-term potential. "I wanted to make an impact right away," he says. "My input may not be vital, but I want it to be valued, and I want to be included as an equal member of the team."

Pick your boss.
Loyalty hasn't disappeared entirely from corporate life. "Loyalty these days is between individuals, not between people and companies," says Bruce Tulgan, of RainmakerThinking Inc. Bad bosses can ruin a great job, and good bosses can make a so-so job feel fantastic. The type of boss you have can also make or break the next step of your career. So, once you're offered a job, talk to people who have worked for your boss-to-be.

If you can't pick your boss, then find a coach -- someone who has the power (and the desire) to look out for your interests, someone who can pull you off bad assignments and keep you informed about great assignments. At First Chicago, Vice President Janet Leong plays that role for First Scholars: She's on the lookout for a Hong Kong posting for Rosenblatt, who speaks Chinese and wants experience overseas.

Open your mouth.
What do you want out of a first job? Money? Skills? Tell someone -- preferably the person who is dangling that offer in front of you. "Don't be ashamed to let people know what you want," says Jessie Woolley, president of Crimson & Brown Associates, a recruiting and publishing company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "If they have to guess, they may guess wrong."