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Today’s Question: In this special edition of Recruiter Q&A, we asked some recent grads to share some stories from their very first job hunts. Some are funny, some are surprising, but all of them hold valuable lessons for anyone else who is just starting their post-graduation life.
We’ve also included some insights from Dr. Mark Goulston, a leading expert on career success. If you want to hear more from Dr. Goulston, sign up for the upcoming webinar, “5 Ways You’re Getting in Your Own Way at Work (And How to Stop)“. Register today and you’ll receive a free download of Dr. Goulston’s best-selling book, Get Out of Your Own Way at Work: Conquer Self-Defeating Behavior at Work.
1. Your Education Doesn’t Define Your Career
I actually started my career while I was in college, working as a temp part-time for Edgenet, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm. I needed the cash while I pursued my nursing degree.
After a few weeks at Edgenet, I was surprised to discover I enjoyed the work I was doing there far more than I liked my health care classes in school – and that was a field I had wanted to go into for many years. Because I enjoyed it so much, I did really well at my job. And that stunned me, too. I didn’t realize how much can actually be taught on the job, but pretty much everything can. Your education is foundational, yes, but it certainly doesn’t define your career. That’s what happens after you graduate. How else would a 19-year-old nursing major with no technology experience be given responsibility for international, brand-name accounts for an SaaS firm after a few months on the job?
— Dana Becker, Edgenet
Make a commitment to continuously learn new skills so that you don’t become so incapacitated by fear when you have to learn something in the future.
2. Your First Job Is a Learning Experience – and It Can Get Really Awkward
The maybe not-so-funny/sad thing about graduating college is your first job in the field is a learning experience – exclusively. This is something professionals who are far removed from graduation can easily forget.
In my senior year at UNO, I was recruited by a one-woman marketing department to work on SEO for a blog (which was not communicated to me in the hiring process). The woman and I were both confused about who was supposed to be the expert here. I felt she assumed I knew everything about the professional world since I was a soon-to-be grad when I actually accepted the job as a mentee position of sorts. She was looking up to me as the “expert” to teach her. The result: We both spent most of our time shrugging our shoulders and feeling weird in her cold, stale office while she crunched away at a large bag of celery, kindly offering me some.
The job was very unstructured and a big, awkward misunderstanding. Walking into the office the three times I came in was a skin-crawling cringe-fest, but I’m very glad I got that over with before I found my real first job at Red Branch, where they actually understood I needed time to learn and explore my skill set.
— Noelle Murphy, Red Branch Media
When facing a situation where you think you can’t learn something, pause and think of three times in your life when you were convinced you couldn’t learn something but did.
3. The Job Hunt Never Ends – Not Even When You Get a Job
When I accepted the internship for my current full-time job, I had recently started a different internship for a marketing position at a men’s hair salon. After receiving a haircut to “experience the product” and working one full day, I quit. The job hunt never really ends. It was the right choice, because now I spend my days working in an awesome marketing company.
— Josh Trecartin, Red Branch Media
The most critical difference between success and failure is envisioning that your life can be different and taking the actual steps, however small, to move toward that dream. Even the tiniest thing that inspires you and makes you feel happy … makes a huge difference in moving your attitude toward a more positive place.