Advice To The Class of 2017
As the summer calendar speeds by, most of us are thinking about juggling our professional responsibilities while also making the most of every last leisurely moment of summertime.
Some, among us, however have something completely different on their minds. The graduating class of 2017 have packed up their U-Hauls and are out in the world – looking for their first jobs as college graduates. No longer is the job hunt about making a little extra cash or getting a little extra college credit. Now they are looking to make a living…and if I think back to what it felt like back in my day – it was nothing short of daunting.
So, I thought that I would use today’s post to make some suggestions to the class of 2017. You’ve already gotten all of the speeches about cleaning up your social media presence and writing your resume. Now it’s time for the brass tacks.
Use Your Connections
You might be saying “what connections. I just graduated!” But, everyone has connections, you included. Your parents have friends, your friends have parents, your professors have peers, and your mentors have associates. If you look hard enough, I know you can easily think of 5 people who you could reach out to.
Okay, you’ve thought of them. Now, what? Now it’s time for the dreaded cold call…but it’s a warm call, really. Because you both have one person in common, already.
Practice in the mirror before you call. Know exactly what you’re going to say.
“Hi, [name]! this is [your name]. I am friends with/a student of/an associate of [referral name]. He/she knows how interested I am in finding a job in [industry] and thought you might have some wise words of advice for me. Is there any chance I could meet you somewhere that is convenient for you, buy you a cup of coffee, and ask you for 10 minutes’ of your advice?”
Whether your contact meets with you or chooses to spend their time on the phone with you, this is a big opportunity. Here is what I ask of you: know exactly what you want to learn from your connection going into it and make sure you make the most of your time. Be clear about what you are looking for – be it, a job in the tech sector with a focus on coding, or a creative position where you can focus on your interest in brand identity. Then, ask your contact if they know anyone that you should be speaking to.
That’s it. Be specific about the kinds of contacts or leads you’re looking for, get out a pen, and start taking notes.
After that, send a written thank you card and repeat.
Keep an Open Mind
If there is one thing I’ve learned…careers are fluid and the great ones often come together in an organic way. There is no ONE job you need to land today in order to do what you want to be doing in the long run. And if you don’t even know what you want to be doing in the long run, that’s okay too. You’ve spent 4 years merely starting to learn what your truest talents are. You’ll spend the next 10 years continuing on that journey before your career path begins to show its patterns and provide you with direction.
Right now, your job is to get a job and frankly, who knows which one is the right one…yet. You’re fresh off the boat. You’ve got to get to the dinner table before you can decide which dish you like. Don’t worry too much about the title, or the location, or the benefits even…this is the time in your life when the stakes are low. You (likely,) don’t have a family to feed and your responsibilities are limited. Take advantage of this time to try every dish at the buffet and start to develop a taste for something special. This is the easiest time in your life to explore…don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity to dabble and enjoy myriad experiences.
At the end of the day, employers will hire the person who they want to sit in the same office with, at 8-hour (at least,) stretches, for 220 days every year. So while experience is important, personality counts for a lot. Being assertive or goal- oriented is great, but being kind and authentic is even better. That doesn’t mean you need to be a pushover, but do work hard to let your true personality shine through when you meet a potential employer. Moreover, if you don’t get the job, realize that there will be another job where your unique personality traits will flourish.
Don’t be discouraged. It really is about finding the right fit.