I took a bit of a hiatus over the past few days, a lot has been going on. Work has its ebbs and flows, but the real reason is that my fiancee has been in town and I’ve had all my focus either on work or spending time with her. We get married in 21 days!
Anyway, here is part three. Don’t Despise Entry Level Work.
I very much understand the ridiculous irony that entry level positions often require 1-3 years of experience in a related field. It seems to be ridiculous until you actually get into the field and realize that there are all kinds of things going on that your supervisor doesn’t have the time or won’t take the time to train you on. This is pretty common now. I’m not defending this position, but here is my take on the reasoning behind it. Many companies, still hurting from the all too recent recession, have focused on inward capacity building. This means holding onto the people that they have while making them more efficient in their jobs while promoting from within. This makes is particularly difficult for new graduates to get positions.
Here’s a reality check for millennials: You’re not going to step into a position making more than a living wage out of college. You’re not going to have a corner office your first (or even thousandth) day on the job. You might not even get paid vacation time. You may have to hold down two jobs at first. I was lucky to get a good job right out of college… but then again, it took me moving to Afghanistan to do it. I have several other friends from college who got decent paying jobs right out of university but they were the people who were already holding down jobs, doing internships, extra-circulars, and other things. (They volunteered to do stuff and worked hard to make ends meet.)
Another thing, we all know you have student debt. Thanks, the rest of us do too. You made the decision to go to a four year college you couldn’t afford instead of taking things slower and incurring less debt. I feel your pain, I did the same thing, but the rest of the world is tired of hearing about it. I’m sorry that you’re neck deep in debt and that life hasn’t lived up to the promises that you thought it made you, but you have to keep going. You’re not going to be able to afford all the things your parents have for a good long while, get used to it.
Entry level work is needed. Unless you’re in a specialized degree like teaching or nursing, you might not find the dream job without a master’s degree or some relevant certification. For high-schoolers, I would recommend getting your associates degree at a small community college and then transferring to a larger, more illustrious school for your bachelors degree. It’ll save you a crap ton of money. Meanwhile, always be researching/applying for scholarships, honors programs, and other things. Every little bit you don’t have to take out in loans will help in the long run.
For those already out of college and unable to find work in their field; here are a few things that I would recommend doing. 1. Find someone who can help you with your resume (career services at most colleges and universities will help you with this). 2. Learn how to interview! There are likely a lot of people out there with similar qualifications to you. With that in mind, HR managers and bosses will be looking for someone not only with the qualifications to do the job, but someone with whom they can enjoy working. This is SO important. As for me, I talk in front of a mirror, monitoring my facial expressions, practicing eye contact, trying to think up questions and answers in advance. With my most recent interview, I actually wrote out answers to questions I thought might be asked. I didn’t use those notes when asked those questions, but it made sure that my thoughts were fresh in my mind. 3. Become a storyteller but don’t be a babbler. So much of my generation is afraid of “awkwardness”. Newsflash, silence is not always awkward. Stop using the word “awkward” to cover your insecurities. Learn to embrace silence. Banish filler words such as “like” and “um” from your speech. It helps you to sound more intelligent. As for storytelling (particularly important in interviews), come up with some short but poignant anecdotes that can describe your proficiency in a real life situation. 7-8 sentences should suffice.
I guess this has been more of a post about things you can do to try to prepare for a job. Meh, oh well. I guess my point is, you’re going to be entry level somewhere. Don’t despise it. Everyone starts there. Stop looking at is as a stepping stone to the next position and start treating it as a learning experience. Once you start to understand just how much you don’t know, then you are probably on the right track. Learning to learn graciously is a huge step that you have to take before you can be successful anywhere else. Work on improving the company while improving yourself. Your work will not go unnoticed!