Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.
– Jack Ma
I remember stepping onto campus my freshman year of college. It felt as though the world was at my feet, begging me to jump in. Even when the long sleepless nights, late night study snack binges and hours spent juggling a social life, part time job, full academic load, and unpaid internship began to set in, it was the excitement of what was to come after graduation that kept me going. So when I did graduate 3 years later, I was ready to jump into adulthood. Degree in hand, it was time to apply for those career level positions I had been eyeing while I was in school. But to my surprise, after sending in countless applications, I received no interview and in most cases not even an email confirming a rejection. To say the least, I was crushed. Heartbroken may even be a better word.
While I was working a job that I had taken over the summer prior to graduating, it had nothing to do with my major and my applications continued to fail to catch the attention of employers, making it harder to come into work each day. I spent one too many nights feeling down and not good enough. I constantly asked myself why it was taking so long to land the career I had worked so hard to obtain. But after expanding my network and speaking with professionals at my job who had shared a similar experience, that’s when I realized that it was okay to not have everything go as planned. That life will take its course the way it’s supposed to and when the day does come, it will be well earned and much anticipated. Now with a great network of people, new attitude, and updated professional presence I go into each day with a new confidence that I hadn’t had before. I know many college students and graduates are sharing a similar fear or experience and that is why I want to share a few tips that I have learned over the past months:
- Get a Mentor – the sooner the better! Whether they are in your career field or not, mentors can provide great professional advice to help get you to that next step in your career. If you’re in school, take advantage of the professors around you or your career center. If you’ve already graduated, use LinkedIn, Facebook, and company websites to your benefit to identify core people in fields that you’re interested in. One simple email sharing your background, interest in what they do and a request for what advice they may have to share can get you one step closer to your dream job.
- Network – If you’re never heard the word before, study it, learn it, and ingrain it into your mind. Networking is one of the greatest ways to land that position you’ve been waiting for. Every day is a new chance to network. Start a conversation with a stranger and request a business card, see who the people you already know may be connected with, or take a look at prevalent companies/faces on social media and start a conversation through a quick message or email. If everything goes well, stay in touch every month or so that way you stay fresh in their mind in case any opportunities may come along that they can share with you.
- Don’t Burn Bridges. They May Come in Handy Later – From your classmates to your coworkers, you never know where they might be in 5 years. Sometimes that small conversation you shared during a group project or a stressful shift, may be the connection you need from someone in your past that can help get you to where you need to be.
- Don’t Give Up – This is the most important piece of advice I have to offer. Whether you land your dream job right after graduation or it takes some time for you to get there, just know that it’s okay if everything doesn’t go as you planned. Sometimes the beauty of life is the twist and turns of the journey. You may even realize that those jobs that turned you down, all happened for a reason. Trust me, your future career is out there and as long as you don’t give up hope, continue to chase your dream, and remain confident, that amazing day will come when everything falls right into place.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I would love to hear any additional tips you may have to share!