I Graduated… What Now?

Lessons and advice on the job search from one recent graduate to another.

Life’s Tough, Get a Helmet.

Frustration coupled with distraction is to blame for my recent job-search “hiatus”. I must admit, for every ounce of me that pines for a break-through on the job front, another ounce counters with gratitude for a flexible, low-responsibility lifestyle. Honestly, how much rejection (or worse; neglect) can one endure from the business world before it takes its toll on our motivation? Is it wrong to weaken to the current job market and let our hair down for the duration?

Lately, I have spent less of my free time dwelling on possible job options, and more time on what I enjoy, which I feel is ultimately contributing to my future success: helping, socializing, and working.

I am helping my friend, Rob Coats, market his brand online (check out his new book- Connect and Grow Rich!). Meeting with him once a week feeds my creative fix, enlightens me on new ideas/ different views, and allows me the opportunity to sharpen my social media skills. Socializing keeps me connected to others (you never know who you will come across!), open to different things, and happy. Work obviously pays the bills.

I am glad to report that a few prospective job opportunities have arisen in the past few weeks. Sometimes opportunities are right in front of you. I think taking a step back allowed opportunities to surface that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.
I am not suggesting anyone out there looking for a job right now should give up entirely. I am merely stating that it’s OK to be OK with where you are right now. Cut yourself some slack, have patience, and let tomorrow worry about tomorrow.

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances. – Martha Washington

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December 7, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Life’s Tough, Get a Helmet.

22, Fabulous and Making Moves: Guest Blog From the CEO

By, JoVanna Bianco, CEO ILS, LLC

Although January will be the one year anniversary of my company, it still seems a little UNREAL to me. My goal was always to run my own company, where I make my own hours, and I call the shots, but could I possibly fulfill this BEFORE I even received my college diploma?

When my dad first proposed the idea of starting this company (ILS) it seemed almost too good to be true. The President of my own company?!  Then the reality of it all hit me. Can I do this? Can I go to school, keep my internship, AND run a company?

It was a little overwhelming at first. But if there is one thing I have learned from this experience it has been to not get discouraged.  It hasn’t been easy being twenty-two and getting professionals to take me serious. People have tried to take advantage of the fact that I was just starting out and fairly young. But I was persistent and made sure that I did my research. I wasn’t afraid to let companies know what I expected from them and that they needed to take me serious. When I was first starting my company I was even asked by an accountant “You do know how much time and commitment this is going to take, right?” At first it made me want to cry. But as I thought about it, it pushed me to work even harder.

Days like today when I am sitting at my computer filling out payroll and invoices I think how good it feels that I didn’t give up and made it to where I am today. I can’t say I haven’t made any mistakes along the way, but you learn from them and try not to make them again.

Don’t get me wrong, running a business is no picnic. It’s not a free-pass from keeping up with my homework or my internship. I still attend class and work for Battelle. I work hard to balance my time between all three, while still managing to have a social life.

“Because in this lifetime, the challenges that we face are what keeps life interesting, but it is the overcoming of these challenges that give life meaning.”

Thinking of starting your own company at a young age?

-Do your research (basic steps)

-Consult with experts

-Believe in yourself and demand respect

-Stay organized

Please leave your questions, comments, or suggestions on this post in the comment box below!

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Here. I HAVE To.

With each year of my life comes less and less self-doubt. Maturity is coupled with wisdom and self-acceptance. Still, there are certain situations that unleash those middle-school identity crises.

img_1356_dance[1]One to pride myself on being an open-minded person, willing-to-try-anything-twice, you can imagine my surprise when, upon my arrival at a gay-bar for the very first time, my mind was filled with feelings of inadequacy and out-of-placement.

Cute flowing top- check. Tight black jeans and chunky heels- check. Hair and makeup in agreement with a night out-check. Self doubt- check. WAIT! WHAT?!

I couldn’t cap the worries fast enough: Could they smell my heterosexuality a mile away? Did they think I was a poser, or worse, a mockery? Was I going to be exiled from their community and stoned for attempting to enter? It’s funny how a new situation can be a non-stop ticket back to that awful 6th grade lunch where you found yourself silently begging for an invitation to that weekend’s “popular” party.

I can best identify these anxious feelings to those I had towards social media. Though both worlds intrigued me, I felt they were not places I belonged. My knowledge of social media did not branch far from Facebook and mass-texts, and I was not personally gay. Who did I think I was and what did I have to offer this gay bar, or this social media world?

Ok. Here I am. At the bar. Desiring acceptance by this elite group, and not wanting my insecurity to ruin the night for my friend Michael, who was so ecstatic to finally be somewhere that he was the majority. I HAVE to get comfortable. social-media-people

I’ve found that it’s much easier to realize what you want once you verbalize it. I WANT to be accepted at a gay bar. I WANT to be a member of the public relations professionals.

Ok. Here I am. In the midst of the job search. A desire to be the newest edition to a public/media relations group, and not wanting to limit my abilities. I HAVE to familiarize myself with social media.

Social media, like sexuality, is about being confident, open, experimental and adaptable. People respect you in each group when you are willing to try in spite of the possible failures. In my experiences, they welcome your attempt and help in any way they can. Disregarding my question of what I had to offer either group, I jumped right in. Maybe it wasn’t about what I could do, but rather, what I could gain? I got in the middle of the dance floor sans friends, void of any unease. I couldn’t find Michael. I started my Blog. I didn’t wait for an employer to show me the ropes. I Googled WordPress and taught myself as I went. My blog led into other social media accounts such a Twitter, Brazen Careerist, LinkedIn, Etc. So what if I failed- at least I attempted.

Not surprisingly, through my social media and gay-community endeavors, I’ve gained valuable friendships, knowledge, and experience. I’ve found like-minded people who I can identify with and gain value from. You do not have to change who you are. You don’t have to be a guru, and you don’t have to alter your sexuality. You DO have to put yourself out there, try new things, and be vulnerable. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish when you get past the fear.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | Leave a comment

22, Fabulous and Making Moves

Global_Woman

While driving down the road with my friend JoVanna, our Spice Girls jam session was abruptly cut short (I wasn’t behind the wheel so there wasn’t an accident!). Peeved that she decided to mute “Spice Up Your Life” mid- song, I questioned her actions.

JoVanna defended that the bank we were pulling up to 1.) did not share a mutual appreciation for our anthem; “Never Give Up On The Good Times,”  and 2.) may not take her tax payment seriously if we didn’t act mature.

Of course I was amused that my friend pays her own taxes, never having seen a tax form myself, but was amazed to learn that she was paying taxes for HER company!

That day I learned about my friend’s start-up business, ILS: Industrial Labor Services.

Earlier in the year she spoke with her father whose company (IWC: Industrial Waste Control) hires temporary labor for many of their projects. They decided that instead of hiring an outside contractor, this was a possible business venture.

So, this past January, Jovanna, an OSU student who was already holding the computer science & engineering/ programming internship position at Battelle, set out to start her own staffing company.

She taught herself QuickBooks through software tutorials and consulted with lawyers and accountants. She ordered her own paychecks and figured out how to document W2 forms and insurance applications.

She set a one-year goal: get the company registered, running, and maintain her first client.

She has not only met these goals- she’s exceeded them! She currently employs 11 workers in 3 states and has exclusive staffing privileges to her first client!

Only 10 months later and she has cashed her very first paycheck from her company!

Now, I’m not saying that everyone is wired to start and manage her/his own company. But, I am saying that we mustn’t let opportunities pass us by.  JoVanna saw a void and took it upon herself to fill it. She didn’t wait until she graduated, she didn’t excuse it because of a lack of knowledge and she didn’t hold it in the back of her mind as a mere possibility. She JUST DID IT!!! (Nike was on to something all those years ago).

So many of my friends (all very talented and highly capable) have what I consider “pipe dreams” (restaurant owner, travel writer, personal stylist, etc.) My question is: Why not? Find the skills, resources, funds to make them a reality. The worst that’s going to happen is that we fail.

As we pulled away from the bank that afternoon I asked her what her biggest fear was. Her response: “Not getting it all to come spice_girls_500x375together or running into some legal obstacle that [I] wasn’t aware of. Not having enough time to do it all- the company, Batelle, school…” I gave her my vote of confidence then she cranked up “Spice Up Your Life” and we went back to being 22 year-olds.

“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” —  Henry Drummond

A more in depth look into starting a business with low overhead and JoVanna’s personal story are soon to come!

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s Your Turn To Ask Questions

Ever thought about seeking out an informational interview? This situation is reverse-role, allowing YOU to seek out the information you want, and puts the professional in the hot seat.

Informational Interviewing, a session where you seek advice from a professional rather than a position, is a great way to learn more about the field you are interested in, or gain additional knowledge about careers you are thinking about pursuing.

Most employers are open to this type of interviewing, as you are not asking anything more of them than to share their knowledge. Also, this gives them an inside look into what job seekers are looking for.

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Make sure not to waste anyone’s time, including your own. This is your chance to pick the brain of someone who holds the position you think you’d like. Be sure to have well thought-out questions prepared and have a goal in mind. Great questions include: How did you get where you are now? What are the benefits/downfalls about your field? What advice do you have for those aspiring to be where you are now? What skills sets are most important to be successful in this position?

Informational interviewing has been around for years, in the form of career shadowing days and guest speakers in class. But, it can also be very beneficial to those looking to enter the job force. Take it upon yourself to find someone that is where you want to be, and set up an informational interview.

P.S… Don’t forget your thank-you note!

November 5, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | 1 Comment

Try Before You Buy

“The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.
The sure-thing boat never gets far from the shore.”
– Dale Carnegie –

http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2054-Job-Search-Try-Before-You-Buy-How-to-Get-a-Job-That-Doesnt-Exist/?sc_extcmp=JS_2054_advice&SiteId=cbmsn42054

I found this article of particular interest. The idea of “Try Before You Buy” pitching to companies sounds like a unique way to get yourself noticed. But, does it really work? Is a company who is on a hiring freeze, or worse, letting people go, really going to find the finances to  support this temporary offer? Personally, I like the suggestion to skip the cover letter and go for the elevator speech in writing, at least for the industry I’m interested in. I’d love to hear what you, the job seeker and employer think!

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | Leave a comment

Look Around Once in a While

Time

Impulsivity has kept me from enjoying this gap period between school and work. Instead of enjoying my flexible schedule and free time, I’ve been fretting over what my next move needs to be. Only last week did some unexpected turn of events lead me to the realization that if you don’t stop to enjoy the moment, it’ll most certainly pass you by!

With my new found outlook I was able to accept that this was not a gap period, but rather an unexpected detour. Not only has my time as a server allowed me to travel and enjoy things I may not have had time for, I’ve recognized how it’s helped me to grow as an individual. Here are some highlights of my lessons learned:

Patience

There are some times you have no choice but to be on someone else’s time.

Teamwork

You cannot succeed in any industry, especially the restaurant industry, without working together

Diversity

You learn to successfully communicate, understand, and work with people of all backgrounds, education, beliefs, values and work ethics.

You will not love everyone you work with

But you will have to learn to work with everyone.

Dedication

No matter how much you hate your job at any given time, you better be there the next day if you want your paycheck.

Innovation

There are only so many options on a menu. But, there are endless ways to pitch them. Learn to read people and figure out how to best accommodate them.

How to bite your tongue/pick your battles

The costumer is always right is not a saying- it’s a mind set- and a lifestyle during work hours. Whether a co-worker or a guest, some times it’s better to let things go.

The immediate affects of divisional functioning of an organization

The results of each division of an organization aren’t directly apparent faster than in the restaurant industry. Managers, servers, bartenders, food runners, cooks, chefs and bus staff operate as a unit, each executing their own responsibility in order to run an efficient company.

So, the next time you are stressed and feel like the ship has sailed while you’re still at check-in, take a look around and improvise. I guarantee you can take something positive from the situation. In the meantime,Look there’s always happy hour 🙂

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | Leave a comment

Keep Your Search Straight

clever-miss-multitask-lg-83513889Lists, journaling, excel spreadsheets- whatever method best suits you- get started!

I recently spoke to a family-friend who is investing his time in helping me get connected to the right people. His first question was: “What have you been doing on your own?”

No matter how much you’ve done so far, it’s important to keep track of everything. What would be more embarrassing than being put on the spot by a reasonable question, such as this, that we aren’t prepared to answer.

I feel that I’m reaching out to many people for advice, direction, and mentorship. To be honest, I laughed at my dad when he originally suggested that I keep track of everything, so I’m not confused. “Dad, I know who I talk to and I know what I’ve applied for,” was my response.

Honestly, he has a point (Although I’d NEVER admit that to him, and I doubt he even knows what a blog is.).  I can recall who I’ve talked to and what I’ve applied to, yet I wasn’t able to provide a sufficient response to this question. Organization keeps us from forgetting anything as well as keeps it in order. STEPS are important. A simple example:

  1. Emailed Joe Smith to inquire about a position with ABC company.
  2. Joe Smith put me in touch with his HR department as well as gave me John Doe’s contact information at XYZ corporation. He thinks they may be hiring.
  3. Got in touch with John Doe, who is forwarding my resume on.

Thanks to my newly developed list, I will not get my connections mixed up, I will have record of initiatives and results, I won’t forget to follow up with John Doe, or to thank Joe Smith for his efforts, and I’ll now be able to give a detailed summary of the steps I’ve taken on my own. The friend will now be able to recognize my determination and dedication, thus assuring him that his own time will not go to waste. Also, I can refer back to my list to see what actions resulted in positive feedback, and which actions yielded little response.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Be Careful What You Tweet For

A flawless job-search experience would probably be asking too much. How do we learn without be critiqued? These are the sentences I found running through my head a few months ago, but I couldn’t lay them on thick enough to mask my mortification.

Earlier this summer I applied for an assistant account executive position with a local advertising agency. For those of you not familiar with this term, an assistant account executive is an entry-level position that allows you to provide support on accounts, yet limits the amount of independent decision making you have. This sounds perfect for a beginning professional! Or so I thought.

So excited by the possible new position, I contacted a friend who knew someone at that particular agency. My friend, whose advice and encouragement has greatly eased the stress of this horrific job search, forwarded my resume to her contact at the agency. What better way to get noticed than from the inside, right?

Now I’m really enthused! A recommendation from a respected professional! The next morning I woke up early and decided to check my Twitter account, only to find that someone had retweeted a post made by the contact at this agency.

A part of me died that morning. In 140 characters or less, this “professional” had made fun of my resume embarassing_45526.jpg_320_320_0_9223372036854775000_0_1_0for having Twitter listed under my proficiencies. Worse yet, another professional (not employed by the same company) found it funny enough to repost. Correct me if I’m wrong, but social media skills are a highly sought-after skill in most companies.

I understand that this woman meant no personal harm, does not represent the entirety of the agency, and I could have worded it in a more marketable way. However, I was taken aback by the lack of empathy and professionalism a woman, whose own company uses Twitter as a marketing tool, had.

A good laugh with some colleagues, in the privacy of their office, probably would have been a better choice. Thankfully, I got over the embarrassment, didn’t take my sister’s advice to continue my job search in another country, and checked off another lesson learned.

I never heard anything back from the agency, so my only impression of this company will forever be of this negative Tweet.

To those of us circling on the perimeter trying to break in, remember to ALWAYS present yourself in the best light both in person and on social media sites. There is a line between sharing our personal life, and making our selves look bad. If it’s on the internet- anyone can see it!

Share your most embarrassing job-search experience in the “comment” box below!

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | 2 Comments

May I Have Your Attention?

Are our cover letters and resumes being sent to outer space? Am I the only one that gets 1 response for what seems to be every 100 positions I apply for? Not even an automated response!

While at my waitressing gig tonight, I was offered some well-intended advice from a guest: “You need to just get your resume out there!

As fun as slinging meatballs can be,  if “just getting my resume out there” was all it took, then my passion for public relations would be far more than an aspiration.

After attempting to politely redirect the conversation, the guest continued: “All you need to do is get an entry-level position and you’ll work your way up!

Did my intentions come across as expecting to take over for Daniel Edelman tomorrow?

It takes experience to get an “entry-level” position nowadays. What a catch-22. There are no positions out there for truly “entry-level” professionals, yet we aren’t hired without experience. Hmmm….

Internships? I am on my fourth. Every professional in my chosen industry, although extremely helpful and encouraging, has offered me a different skill that needs to be mastered to be considered for a position. How much mastering does it take to land an “entry-level” position? Because I have gained great experience, skills, and contacts, I  continue to welcome unpaid internships.

Networking? I continue to connect with people I believe to be knowledgeable, respectable, and successful. I’ve gained so much valuable insight and suggestions, yet I’m still slinging-meatballs.

Here are some things I’ve found useful in gaining employers’ attention:

  • People WANT to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and opinions and definitely keep in touch with those you’ve connected.
  • I’ve received better responses/feedback from the companies I’ve sought out. Many positions have actually been filled by the time they are listed on the Internet.
  • Contact people in the industry you’re looking to enter into. So far, no one has been bothered by a polite e-mail inquiring about their position/company. In fact, I have yet to not receive a response. Even if there is not a position available, I’ve gained additional knowledge through each contact, as well as a new friendship. Bonus: now you’re on their radar. When a position becomes available, you are more than just a name on a resume.
  • Persistence rarely goes unnoticed.
  • Taking the extra step to follow up with a phone call or an e-mail shows you’re serious about the position and committed to the hiring process. Do a little research to find out the name of the company’s hiring manager, or even go straight to the president. Worst case scenario: no response.

Although I don’t have a solution (but welcome those you may have!) to gaining an entry-level position with little experience, I do know how to gain the attention of professionals. The next time you find yourself checking your email every hour for a response that you may or may not ever receive, why not take the extra step?

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | Leave a comment