I finally broke down and watched "The Vow" the other night, and ever since then I've been dwelling on the moments of impact in my life (if you haven't seen the movie, the protagonist looks back on his love life, focusing on 'moments of impact,' decisions made that shape the future). I've got a half a dozen moments or more in my personal life, but there are two distinct moments of impact that have shaped my career.
At the end of my junior year of high school, I was finishing the registration process for the classes I'd take as a senior. I was crushed, and a little pissed off, when I was told I couldn't take Photography IV because I was lacking a vocational credit. Unable to picture myself in a welding class, I begrudgingly signed up for marketing. Mrs. Thennis and an entire semester of the hands-on learning she gave us playing "The Apprentice" opened my eyes to the world of marketing. Making it to the final two only to lose to the sole junior in the class was a bonus lesson, simultaneously teaching me how to accept a failure and how to push myself even harder.
During my first year of college, I threw a hail mary pass, applying for a marketing internship with our athletic department. I had always been a huge sports fan but had yet to realize I could connect my love of sports with my new found passion for marketing. What attracted me to the position, honestly, was the fact that it offered a tuition waiver. As the oldest of four in a one-income family, I was taking out loans to pay what my scholarships didn't cover. Long story short, I ended up getting the position and instantly fell in love with college athletics. I haven't looked back.
My mom always tells me that when God closes a door, he opens a window. If I hadn't been open to different opportunities (or forced into new ones, as was the case in high school), I wouldn't be where I am today. I spent three years with my alma mater's athletic department, did an internship with an MLB team, and was just hired on as a GA by a Big 12 school. I'm incredibly passionate about what I do and blessed to have stumbled upon an industry that I love.
I hope this encourages you to think back on your moments of impact... and to continue to "go with the flow" in life. You never know where it will take you!
Land a nice internship? Congrats!
Experience, specifically a student internship level, is crucial to cinching a big-kid gig after graduation. However, what you do while interning is more important than just sticking it on your resume Throughout my college career, I've had several different types of internships and made my fair share of mistakes while I was at it. Looking back, I've learned a lot and fine-tuned the process of being an intern; here are my thoughts on how to get the most out of your internship:
1.Take initiative. Always remember that the number one reason a company hires interns is to make life easier on them. Know that, and work it to your advantage- excel from the beginning at the seemingly menial tasks in order to quickly gain the trust of your supervisor. When they seen you mean business, they'll feel comfortable delegating more and more important projects to you. Actively pursue these opportunities. Figure out how you can add value to your team. Ask for feedback and advice when appropriate, but learn to be self sufficient.
2. Don't be afraid to fail. The main perk to being an intern is you still have the luxury of a safety net. Interns aren't expected to know everything, so you'll be forgiven for a mistake much easier than a permanent employee. I'm not saying don't be careful- mistakes are still a big deal and you should take the necessary precautions to avoid them. But don't let the fear of messing up keep you from taking on an exciting assignment- jump at that opportunity.
3. Maximize your exposure. Say you have an internship in the marketing department (yes, I'm bias). Don't restrict yourself to your desk in your corner of the marketing wing. Hang out with other interns. Jump in on meetings that you aren't required to be at. Ask for "informational interviews" with permanent employees of other departments. Learn as much as you can about the entire organization- you are more attractive as a marketer or as an accountant or an engineer if you are knowledgeable about how the whole system works. And who knows- maybe you'll surprise yourself and find a new interest.
5. Network. Why WOULDN'T you take advantage of the numerous opportunities to make connections while interning? Reach out to other interns (they'll likely be the successful ones in your industry), establish strong relationships with supervisors (they're going to be the ones called by future employers for recommendations), and connect with every person you come into contact with.
Take your internship seriously. Challenge yourself! Realize how lucky you are to have this opportunity, and squeeze every little bit of experience you can get from it. You're going to need it.
Everyone knows that the economy isn't what it used to be. No sense beating a dead horse and getting on a soapbox about that. It's harder than usual to find a job, but instead of just complaining about it, make yourself stand out. Believe it or not, the bad economy can be a good thing for you- because graduates are worried about finding a job, many are sending off dozens, if not more, applications in a small amount of time. This usually means that they aren't taking the time to customize them. Be the one who stands out. Do research on every single company that you are applying to. Tailor your cover letter to mention your skills and experiences that are actually relevant to that specific position. PLEASE don't send out standardized cover letters:
"To whom it may concern,
I found this position on blah blah blah. Please hire me because here are my skills blah blah blah."
Employers will read numerous letters of applications, and honestly will start to discard some that are obviously standardized to fit multiple positions. Here are some ways to show you care about each specific position:
1. Find out who will be interviewing you. I don't care if the original job posting doesn't state a person, or only says HR, do some research to find a real person who will be reviewing your application and address it to him or her. This is a small personal touch that goes a long way.
2. Look for key words in the job description (computer skills, budgeting experience, etc.) and mention relative experience or education that you have. Don't be afraid to nearly regurgitate what they have written: if you can back it up, its what they're looking for.
3. Let you personality show through. This is a tough one, and you need to find a delicate balance between showing your personality while still being professional. If you know that this position will be highly competitive, think about taking a risk. When I applied to work for an MLB team, I took a risk and threw some humor in my cover letter. I don't recommend that for everyone, but it worked for me and I was eventually offered the position. Do research- determine how much risk you is appropriate with each particular company's culture.
4. Do research! Another dead horse that I know I'm beating, but please. Do some research. Find out if the company has had any recent changes to structure, acquired another company, etc. Anything that you can "drop" in a cover letter or an email that shows you are knowledgeable about the company will place you miles above other applicants. Another technique that I can attest to.
Any more suggestions? Hope this helps!
I'm beyond excited about starting this blog. I'm passionate about what I do, and I can't wait to share my ideas, experiences, opinions with whoever wants to read! I won't spend too much time delving into what I'm all about (check out the 'about section' to learn more about me), and jump right into my first blog topic: the awful waiting period between submitting applications and hearing back.
I stumbled upon a blog post not too long ago where the woman was just finishing graduate school, ready to enter the job world. She mentioned how she was a little stressed about the inevitable job search (sure felt great to realize I wasn't the only one), and how she's spending that time between submitting applications, getting a call, and interviewing. She's doing research and preparing- a shocker! Being prepared for an interview is absolutely crucial- you need to have questions prepared (even if you don't use them- look into their company, find intelligent questions that prove you did your homework and that you aren't clueless). You need to anticipate questions they might ask- draw upon questions you've been asked in previous interviews, talk with mentors, and Google some suggestions. Take advantage of your university's career center if they offer mock interviews, especially if you don't have much experience interviewing. Prepare for the tough ones- What is your least favorite part about working in this industry? Why should I hire you over someone who is more experienced? What was your biggest mistake and how did you learn from it?
If you have an interview coming up, congratulations! Please take advantage of the time until then to prepare yourself. If you don't have an interview coming up, but have been applying for jobs, keep up the hard work and please don't lose hope. You aren't alone! Keep pursuing new options, while continuing to prepare for the chance that you will be contacted for an interview. If you've determined that you are looking for a specific type of job, many positions will have similar interview questions. Research and practice answers to these general type answers. Once you know that you have an interview, that's when you make sure you know the ins and outs of that particular company.
(Check out my links section to find the blog post that inspired this one)
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