“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
-Galatians 6:9 NIV
With some of the latest reports posting in the millions filing for unemployment, there seem to be many more candidates out there vying for the same jobs as college graduates. Seasoned employees have been laid off or furloughed and are back in the market searching for a new career. School districts across the country are making huge budget cuts and thus are not hiring new teaching staff leaving new teachers looking for other work in the interim.
This can be frustrating, depressing, and scary for new grads, most of which are graduating with significant student loan debt in repayment after six months of graduation. Don’t lose hope though. Follow these tips to get stable and then work your way into your dream role. It may not happen overnight, but you will be in control of your future rather than wondering what will happen next.
The first thing a new graduate needs to do is get a job, any job that will help support their basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, etc. It may not be the dream job that you went to school to get, but millions of Americans are out there scrambling just like you are. It is important not only financially, but mentally as well that you continue to use your skills in a day job while you continue to look for your dream job.
This may take some time and it won’t happen overnight. Don’t be discouraged! Once you have stability you are able to pay the bills, keep the lights on, and pay the payments on those student loans. You now have some breathing room to start making steps toward that dream job. It all starts with becoming stable. While you are in this season of your life, start connecting with others.
In the marketplace today, it is true more now than ever that it is who you know more than that what you know. Think about your dream position 5-10 years down the road. What does it look like? What role will you be filling each day? While you are working the day job, find people who are doing what you want to eventually be doing. Don’t be afraid to talk about your dream to other people! Let others know what roles and positions you want to be in. The people that you meet might know someone that you can connect with to learn more about how they got to where they are today. If you don’t have any immediate connections, LinkedIn is a great start for this process. You can search for people in roles that you are considering all across the country! No matter if you are meeting for coffee, a Zoom call, or sending them a message, see if you can have a few minutes of their time to ask these questions:
- What do you love about your role/position?
- What do you dislike about your position?
- What was your journey like to step into this role you currently have?
- What can I do now to make progress towards a role like yours someday?
If you approach the person out of humility, respect, and hunger to learn more about the role, these connections will more often than not be very supportive of you on your journey. As you are making connections with others, get to know others in the company, school district, etc. that you would like to work in. Build positive relationships early on, as it will pay dividends when your resume is turned in to the hiring manager.
Do What It Takes For As Long As It Takes
As you continue to work in your day job for stability, look to find time in your schedule to meet with your connections regularly. For example, if you want to be an elementary school teacher and you have Wednesdays off, try to volunteer or substitute teach on Wednesdays to build relationships with the staff, students, and the administrators.
Giving of your time to learn and grow speaks volumes of a person’s determination, and their desire to work in the company. Even if you don’t get paid, what you are learning from veteran employees in those roles is priceless and will be valuable to you down the road.
Plan, Prepare, Perform
When the position comes available that you have been looking for, make sure that you plan, prepare, and perform. There will be many others looking to step into the same role as you, so you need to leverage your connections, and your experience to land the interview. Contact your connections when the job posting becomes available. Ask them if they would endorse you for the position and physically hand off your resume to the one doing the hiring. This will speak volumes to have a trusted employee vouching for you as a great candidate for the position!
Once they call you up to schedule an interview, it is now time to reflect on your experience and what you know about the company to prepare. Make sure you get in touch in your connections to ask about any details about the position that might make you stand out during the interview process. Do your research on the company’s website- know their mission statement, services, and how you could add value to their school, company, etc.
Use all of the information you gathered and synthesize it onto a notebook page. You can use it as a quick reference during your interview. Give yourself some words of encouragement and helpful information that you might otherwise forget because you are nervous, etc. Above all else, be yourself!
Your Career Is Just Around the Corner
The journey might be a few weeks or months, but stay positive and keep those connections going with others in the industry. Exercise, eat right, and get plenty of sleep to keep yourself in good spirits. Remember, keep the day job until you are able to step right into the dream job. Go, and be a light to those around you today!