Since graduating from college about a year ago (wow, that’s weird to say), I’ve been through the ringer in terms of finding a job. I’ve had an internship, an externship, and since then I’ve been on the hunt for a real, lasting job. Which honestly feels like Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego? at this point.
It’s been tough, I won’t lie to you. Your first job or internship is a tough learning opportunity. Job searching is even worse. You could always have one more skill or be doing something more. You may have one or two years of experience, but you need three or four. You’re qualified, but just not qualified enough. Maybe you don’t live in the right area. Maybe you don’t know anyone at the company. The list goes on and on because there’s always something that makes an opportunity imperfect. So we get to sit around and catch up on Netflix until you literally get sick of it. If you thought that wasn’t possible… I’m here to tell you, it is. It’s a very sad story. On a scale of one to Marley and Me, it’s about a 6.
Whether you have your first job or internship, your second, or you’re still on the hunt, I think these tips will be helpful to you. From one recent grad to another, we’ve got to help each other out. Like Brooke and Peyton or Rory and Lorelai. I hope these tips will help you make the most of whatever situation you’re in and learn a little more quickly than I did.
1. Show passion and drive for everything you do, even if you think it’s useless.
Your eagerness to learn and help will never go unnoticed. In fact, it will probably help you stand out amongst everyone else who is just trying to get by with minimal effort.
2. Your first job may suck. It may also be unpaid. That doesn’t mean it’s beneath you or not worth your time.
Every opportunity is a learning experience. When you’re just starting out, that can be some of the most useful payment.
3. Keep a record of everything you do.
Both in class and at work. You may need that skill later and it’s best to have proof.
4. Show up, dress up, and never give up.
This is my favorite motto to keep in mind because it reminds me to try my best every day, even if I don’t feel like it. Doing your best can be as simple as getting up, wearing something that makes you feel confident, and not letting anything get the better of you.
5. If your job doesn’t fulfill all your passions, gain those skills on the side.
There is no excuse not to learn something you really want to learn.
6. Once you find a job, don’t stop looking.
You should always be networking and learning from others. You’ll be happy to have that security net already in place when you’re ready to start something new.
7. Network, network, network.
Meet and have coffee with anyone, even if they can’t do anything for you. It’s good to have connections, whether or not it will eventually help you. The more people you know, the more chances one of them will be able to help you out one day.
8. You don’t have to take every opportunity that presents itself to you. But do keep an open mind.
Only you can know if an opportunity is right for you and what you want. You’re an adult now and you are capable of making this decision for yourself. Don’t let anyone else make it for you.
9. Over-prepare so you can go with the flow.
Nothing will ever go according to plan. That’s the only thing you can count on. Interviews, projects, meetings… whatever. This is my favorite piece of advice to set yourself up for success with so much unpredictability.
10. It’s OK to make mistakes.
Everyone does it. Take them as learning opportunities and don’t let them make you feel like a failure.
11. Never be complacent.
You may get to a point where you’re no longer learning. You should always be gaining new skills and being challenged. If you’re not, it may be time for something new.
12. It’s not always going to be easy.
You’ll have many days where you’ll wonder if you’re doing the right thing, or you’re questioning your abilities. But don’t let anyone take away your confidence. You have many skills and where you are lacking, you can always learn.
This list is obviously not exhaustive, but these are the most important pieces of advice I’ve learned in the last year. Plus, twelve is my lucky number, so it felt like a good place to stop. Don’t judge me, I really need the luck!
Hopefully these tips help you on your journey (ugh, now I just sound like I’m on The Bachelor) and if you have any tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments!