After spending four long years in college and maybe an extra 2-3 years in graduate school, you are ready to get out and get a job. If you are normal you want the job to be commensurate with your hard work and discipline.
In my experience though, expectation doesn’t necessarily lead to a job. My concern for the younger generation entering the work force in 2010 is that they give up on their career aspirations before they get started. The have an “expectation” of a great job, but are not
- equipped to finding this job
- enthusiastic and disciplined about the job search process
- willing to do what ever it takes to make a place for themselves in the work world
I stay very current with what the blog world, books and people’s parents are telling them about finding a job. I talk to clients about job search and career direction regularly. I am concerned because, however you want to look at it, we the advice givers, are only serving to psych you the graduate out! But, I am here to tell you that if you give up on your career now, you will hate yourself later!
If You Give Up on Your Career Now You Will Hate Yourself Later!
Here is what I see in new graduates approach to starting a career.
- before you even walk in graduation you have been told by people you trust that there are no good jobs available. The economy is bad and unemployment is high and even though you haven’t really looked you are convinced looking for a job is like sucking blood from a turnip.
- you become willing and ready to settle for any job that someone will drop in your lap, whether or not it is related to your studies, just so you don’t have to face the inevitable rejection prophesied by well meaning parents and advisors.
- you begin to hop from job to job, not because you are “creating your own way” but because you are too intimidated to really pour your heart and soul out into a career search. So you settled for whatever job a parent or friend could get you.
You read articles about how the younger generations find lifestyle far more important than work ethic. They romanticize this concept in a fashion that the Gen X/Y’s are smarter than the baby boomer parents who worked their life away with no balance or quality of life.
That sounds great in theory and I could buy it if I saw this generation in fabulous jobs that matched their training. I could embrace the concept if I was witnessing effective boundaries in action and a work hard at work and then go home and live life attitude. The reality appears more like an excuse they tell themselves for never putting their passion and talents to work.
My prayer for you is that you TAKE BACK your life. Don’t settle for what the pessimists are selling. Dare to be different and trust in God that if you do your part He has a meaningful life planned for you.
A Case Study
Here is a story of one young girl’s career path (I will call her Ann) that I think works for any generation and will work for generations to come:
When I took over the coffee house division for Community Coffee their were only two stores operating. On day 2 or 3 of my new job, a young 19 year old girl came knocking on my office door. She was dressed in a business suit and heels. I remember because she sort of stumbled into my office, being a veteran of sweatshirts and tennis shoes. She announced that she worked for me as a barista at one of the two stores. She proceeded to tell me that she was an advertising major at LSU graduating in the next year. She loved her job and didn’t mind starting at the bottom, but she wanted me to know that her sights were on a career at CC’s. She was willing to do anything and she just wanted to come and introduce herself and let me know this.
Over the next year this barista volunteered for anything and everything. If we needed people to take inventory, she was there. She would corner me anytime I walked into the store with ideas she had for that store, for marketing, probably for the CEO of the company for that matter.
She began to get promoted starting with Assistant Store Manager to Store Manager to District Manager to Marketing Manager. It really became known throughout the division that whenever we needed something done “Ask Ann to do it, she will do anything.” And when I say anything I just mean that no job was too small or large for her. If she was promoted to a new job and didn’t have a clue what she was doing she rallied people around her to help her. She seemed to lack any type of fear of failure. Granted we were running coffee houses, not doing brain surgery. She got that!
What were the Secrets of her Success?
- She asked for opportunity over and over and over. She didn’t whine or complain. She just volunteered or asked “what do I need to do to develop myself so that I will be ready for the next opportunity?” It never was on her timing. She wanted each job well before they reached her. But I knew she wanted the jobs and she consistently put herself out there to ask, work hard and be flexible.
- Her enthusiasm was boundless. She was so excited about what we were doing and she had so many ideas that you couldn’t help but want her around. She was solving problems that hadn’t even occurred yet. It was contagious and the result was a major positive influence on the people around her.
- She took networking to a whole new level. She was friends with everyone in the division and all of the customers. She encouraged others. She volunteered to help at other stores. She hung out at the different stores in her off time brainstorming with other employees.
- She wasn’t just talk. If another store manager needed help finishing inventory she would go to their store after she finished at hers. If another manager was short an employee she would send someone to help.
Think about it….as a hiring manager I want people on my team who are enthusiastic, have a can do attitude, are willing to start anywhere and show that they will work hard. She made mistakes. I called her to fuss at her many times. My challenge with Ann was how to contain and channel all of the energy and creativity. How often is that a problem in the work world today.
Don’t End Up Being Another Cog in the Wheel
Too often we end up becoming what Seth Godin frames as “cogs in the wheel”. Easily replaceable parts.
You just graduated!! You have your whole career waiting for you. God created you with your gifts and talents and He wants you to use them to glorify Him.
If it took 4-6 years, and a hefty investment, to finish your higher education, isn’t it worth making a proportionately relevant effort toward finding a job, or better yet, God’s calling on our life?
I met with a young person yesterday who had passion and energy towards beginning his career life. I was so excited about our conversation that we ran over by 20-30 minutes. I wished I personally had a job for him because I love these qualities of motivation, hard work, and enthusiasm. He also had a heart for God.
Encouragement (and Resources) for New or Soon-to-be Graduates
If you are recently graduated, or will graduate in the next year or two, I want to give you some encouragement. There are always jobs for people who are energetic, work really, really hard, are willing to step out of their comfort zone and don’t give up easily.
If you want to read about how to be unique and make a difference in your career I recommend Seth Godin’s new book Linchpin (affiliate link).
I understand it is a new generation and society is ever-changing. I believe in using new tools for job search such as Linkedin, Brazen Careerist, Twitter and such. But in the end if you want to create a career I firmly believe you need to have a foundation of enthusiasm, hard work, flexibility, dependability and perseverance. These may seem old school, but they are currently in scarce supply. If you need help translating these God given gifts and talents to a job search plan, we are also available to coach you through.
You will be working for decades. Love yourself enough to put forth the effort to make sure your career works for you!