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Your Post-College Graduation Guide: How To Use Thank You Notes And Other Touchpoints To Get Ahead

Jennifer Palmer  |  June 11, 2024

First comes college graduation, then comes the first job. Here's how to use handwritten thank you notes and other touchpoints to get ahead.

Your college graduation has come and gone. Now, it’s time to step into what so many people fondly call “the real world.” As an owner of a company committed to funding entrepreneurs, I see firsthand how strong leaders, early in their careers, develop the necessary tools to thrive and shine once they enter the workforce. 

After college graduation, most young professionals are focused on starting salaries and negotiation tactics rather than developing the skills they’ll need throughout their career journey. The lessons I try to teach my four daughters daily are the same ones a college graduate will need. As we adjust to new ways of working together, whether remotely, hybrid, or in person, many of these time-honored traditions, such as writing thank you notes, expressing gratitude, and always-on networking, might be the most powerful tools you can use to help land your first “real job” or a promotion. 

Take Time To Pen A Handwritten Thank You Note

I am pretty sure your mother, aunt, or mentor has advised you on the wisdom of sending handwritten – yes, handwritten – thank you notes, but here is another reminder. Send them! In the age of e-mail and text, you should follow every interview with a handwritten thank you note. Throughout my career, after a meeting with a potential client or business partner, I use my personalized stationery to convey my appreciation for the time we spent together and discuss the next steps.  So, I urge you to reconsider that thank you e-mail. The handwritten thank you note never died, and it’s now more important than ever as a sincere expression of gratitude.  

Being Grateful Is Good Business

It’s easy to get distracted by the challenges we face. But every day, I made time to practice gratitude. I would advise every young professional to make it a point to do the same post-college graduation. Not only is it important to practice gratitude on a personal level, but you should also express your thankfulness to those who support you. The best way to do so is by returning the favor. Cheer them on as you witness their successes and be someone they can lean on during the more difficult times. As women, we must always lift each other up professionally and appreciate the kindness and support we extend to one another. 

Networking Moves The Needle Forward

Networking is the business skill all professionals, at every stage of their career, need to master. As a young person, it is vital to see every personal or professional encounter as an opportunity to connect to someone who may be valuable to your career. Begin by joining professional organizations in your industry, attending alumni meet-ups at your college or elsewhere, and making LinkedIn a vital part of your connecting journey. The key is ensuring you are continuously investing in your relationships, making new contacts, and looking to grow your network of professionals. It will come back to you in spades. 

Don’t Wait For A Mentor To Find You

We all read and hear about the importance of mentorship and how valuable the right person can be in guiding your career. Mentors don’t arrive at your desk ready to dispel wisdom. They are in your organization or network, and it is up to you to build a relationship with them and ask for their support. Ask someone to be your mentor (you can get advice on how to do so, here). You will find that most people are honored to be given the responsibility and will take their role very seriously.  

The Bottom Line

After college graduation, it’s easy to be focused on kicking your career into high gear as soon as possible. As you work to land your first job, it’s important not to lose sight of just how important it is to develop the skills you will need throughout your career journey. Remember, thoughtful, personal touches along the way are a great way to build and sustain your network. The power of a handwritten thank you note, appreciating those who help to support us, and showing gratitude to those who lift us up will ensure a promising career path ahead. 


With 16 years of commercial finance experience, Jennifer Palmer launched JPalmer Collective, a provider of customized Asset-Based Lending solutions, to help achieve equal access to capital for women-owned/led businesses.


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