For the Undergrads
Graduating college is a big deal. A bigger part of that deal is finding a job that utilizes the many things you’ve learned over the past four years, and provides the paystub that you’ll use to start paying off those hefty student loans.
As Elevate’s newbie, resident young millennial, and freshly minted graduate: I present to you the steps and insights that helped me land a job at Elevate.
Step 1: Take Every Opportunity to Make a Connection
There are thousands of ways to meet the people who have a wedge for the door you’re trying to get your foot into. These opportunities can be obvious, like an alumni networking event or the college job fair; they can also be incredibly random like the person you sit next to on a plane, or a friend of the groom you talk to at your cousin’s wedding. Any opportunity you have to meet with professionals in your desired industry, take it. Any chance you have to meet with professionals, period, take it. Don’t discount small events that you assume no one important or helpful will attend. Chances are, other students (aka your future job market competition) are thinking the same thing — so you’ll have an opportunity to get a one up on everyone.
Step 2: Be Purposeful about Where You Spend Your Time
Now that you’re out and about, it’s important to make sure that while you’re at these events — you’re setting yourself up for success. You came, you saw, now it’s time to conquer! But first, prepare. If you’re headed to an industry-related event, read up about that industry (the Google News search is your friend). Find out who is speaking at events you attend, and look them up on LinkedIn — you can then find out where they work and focus your conversation around that. Find someone at the event who looks like they know their way around, introduce yourself, tell them you’re looking for an opportunity, and ask to be introduced to anyone that you need to meet (professors can be great at this).
Your goal at each of these events is to leave with contact information — and if it’s not offered to you, just ask! The worst they can say is no — and even if they do, you’ll still leave the building with the same amount of email addresses you came in with.
Step 3: Make a Power Move
As you begin to accumulate contacts and opportunities, you have two options: make a beautiful collage of all the business cards you’ve captured, or do something with them. I would advise touching base with your new connections within five days of your initial meeting. By staying fresh in their mind and following up with timely communication you can both prove your genuine intention and efficiency. Anytime you connect with a helpful professional, you have the opportunity to make a great impression — be it that you connect on the phone, in email, or in person.
Every time you meet with this person, think to yourself what the professional you aspire to be would say, know, and act like. Would your eleven-year-old self be impressed with you, or would your thirty-year-old self be thankful for what you did and said that day? Keep professionalism at the forefront of your mind and act in ways that push you towards your end goal. Boldness will get you noticed, preparedness will get you hired.
Step 4: RELAX
Did I forget to mention that you’re still in college? As your graduated unsolicited advice genie, I would also like to pass along the one tip that I think helped me most: RELAX, you have some time to figure it out. It came from my mom, who reminded me again and again that eventually I would get a job, with one caveat: it may not be the job I’ve always dreamed of (in case you’re wondering, this job would’ve been replacing Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives). Turns out that I have landed a great job that I love, but I wouldn’t have been in the right mindset during my interviews had I not known that it would eventually all work out.
An important thing to keep in mind when you’re looking at job postings, confused about what you are qualified to do, remember that no matter the job title, the first job you earn is always going to be just that: your first job — a place where you’ll learn an insurmountable number of new things, post about on Facebook to let your friends know you are in fact, not regretting attending every on campus event, and lets you experience the first rush of a paycheck … that goes right into that student loan payment I mentioned earlier.