advice to a grad student I met at the Seattle Interactive Conference

so here was the question:

I’d love to talk to you about your career as I am soul searching while in grad school and am looking to find a great employer post graduation.

Here’s my response:

I love soul searching! Good for you!
Sorry we didn’t get to reconnect after meeting the first day. What a whirlwind! My brain was really full by the end of Tuesday!
Are you still interested in talking about career trajectory?
My career trajectory has included stops in: teaching; waiting tables; AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA; churches; nonprofits, and now a marketing firm.
May I add I still am not sure “what it is I’d like to do in my life,” but there have been a few stops along the way that I’d advise not repeating! (HA!)
What I would say is this: land a sweet internship. Work your ass off. Act as if every day was the first day, fresh and full of excitement (even when people are treating you like crap). Getting recommendations from internship supervisors and even peers can be crucial to people who are starting their careers. (Get written letters where you can, and cell phone numbers of recommendations.)

That being said, if your grad school has any sense, they will have a career placement office. Think of the people at the career office as the Reference Desk Librarians for how to get a job. Go in there once a week and get resume help, practice your elevator speech, do mock interviews, ask for leads.
Back in the day, career placement offices used to keep folders for graduates: sealed transcripts, letters of recommendation on letterhead from profs, etc. I don’t know if they do that anymore, but maybe. If your grad school does not have a career placement office, go to WorkSource. It’s a government-run office that helps people get jobs.
Also, more jobs than not “these days,” (I’m no good with numbers), jobs are not posted externally. They call it, “the hidden job market.”  So networking is becoming more and more important for career growth. You should have a business card with your name, phone number, email, Linkedin address, twitter feed? (maybe, I’m a n00b on Twitter), and maybe a motto!* No physical address – you don’t want stalkers. Hand them out to every person you meet who might be able to connect you to someone who can give you a job!
That’s just general advice! 🙂
I feel really bossy now; sorry if I’ve overstepped.
Be well,
My motto is, “Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage,” a quote by Anais Nin.
Anais Nin toasting our good health. C. John Pearson
Anais Nin toasting our good health.