No matter how prepared you think you are to join the workforce after you graduate, entering the real world can be a shock. This is especially true if you struggle to find your dream job, or any job for that matter. Finding work can be tricky with the economical ups and downs, and sometimes we feel we need to settle for a less-than-perfect position.

Believe it or not, this does not have to be the case! Regardless of the state of the economy, it is possible to find your dream job right out of college. You and your parents probably spent a significant deal of money for that degree, so you should start getting a return on your investment as soon as possible. Here are several tips for landing that dream job right after graduation.

We’ve all heard it before…but network, network, network

You might be sick of hearing the word “network” but in today’s competitive job market, networking is a powerful tool. Whether you are still in school or you recently graduated, you need to start networking yesterday. Even if you meet someone at a coffee shop or in an elevator who would serve as a helpful connection, ask for their business card or email address.

You can start networking by attending job fairs at your university or even getting in touch with professors and advisors from the past. If you ask for help from a colleague, friend, family member, or professional connection chances are you’ll get it. Keep in mind that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Start searching before you graduate

The best way to start working right after graduation day is to start job hunting early. During your last semester of college you should be networking, attending job fairs, and visiting the career office at your university.

As graduation looms nearer, you should be focusing on perfecting your resume and brushing up on your interview skills. Mike Simpson of the Interview Guys states that preparing for an interview is essential, and you can start doing so before you even graduate. You should be updating your resume on a regular basis and editing it based on each job you apply for.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good first impression

When you finally do land an interview for your dream job, remember that first impressions are lasting ones. As we mentioned before, always prepare beforehand and make sure your resume is up to snuff. Always arrive to an interview looking professional and show your confidence with a firm handshake.

Show your worth during an internship

Taking on an internship position during college is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. Some internships are paid while others are not, but even if you are not getting paid for your time it can be completely worth it. You might fall in love with the company you are interning for and it could eventually lead to a full-time, paid position.