The best part of a Campus Recruiters job is not when they sit behind a computer screen or sit in planning meetings. The best part of the job is meeting the hundred's, indeed thousand's of talented soon-to-be working professionals who are seeking their first chance to show the world what they are made of.
With the new academic year approaching and as recruiters, hiring managers, and companies get back on campus this fall to meet students who are graduating, we often see a combination of excitement, hope, anticipation, and.....trepidation. I mean really nervous, some scared. Nervous because of the pressure they feel to get their career choices right. Scared of what will happen if they don't. Fear of disappointing Mom and Dad, the feeling of underachievement of being behind your friends who all seem to have their next steps planned and fully calculated.
For all of you who are about to graduate who really don't know what you want to do with your career, THAT'S OK!! You aren't supposed to know what job you want yet. You have a long time to figure it out. At this stage in your life, there aren't wrong choices. Yes, you want a career that will be rewarding, but how are you expected to know what that is yet? Still, you gotta dip your toe in somewhere. Here are a few pieces of advice that seem to be helping calm the waters a bit for upcoming graduates:
- Don't feel like you have to land a job in a career that aligns perfectly to what you studied. This may upset Mom or Dad, but you will be better off pursuing what interests you rather than pursuing what others think you should. Companies are full of successful people who are working in fields unrelated to their studies.
- Unless you want to pursue a career in a highly technical field, or something specific to healthcare or a deep type of engineering, your education can help you obtain any career that might interest you.
- Your education is important, but it is only a tool. Your interpersonal skills, leadership skills, work ethic, and ability to generate results will be far more important than how many A's you got, or what school you went to. In fact, you will likely learn more outside the classroom than in it.
- Start to think about the career you want by evaluating two things: First, what kind of challenge do you want to solve, what service do you want to provide, or what impact do you want to make? Maybe it's serving others, maybe it is being strategic in a team, maybe it is number crunching. Think about what excites you. Secondly, evaluate the skills you have that match the fulfillment you are seeking. If you are a great communicator with ability to influence, then a service role with a sales component is a great idea. If you are more of an introvert who likes analytical work, then a corporate office role working in small teams might be better. This might help you focus in on roles that will be a good match.
- Networking is the most valuable thing you could possibly do this year. Meet as many working professionals, recruiters, alumni, peers as you can. Don't look at networking as the way to land a job, use networking to learn from others and explore career paths and ideas you don't know much about. You might be surprised by what you find interesting. You might also be surprised by the email or phone call you'll get in the future.
- Stay positive. Completing college or university isn't easy, you're about to accomplish something not everyone does. This speaks to work ethic and commitment so be confident you have skills and potential to offer any employer.
- Top skills to be successful in any career: Communication skills, collaboration and teamwork, adaptability/flexibility, problem solving, relationship building, being nice, and ability to generate results. Notice none of these are "hard" or technical skills. You can learn those. Employers need people who can get stuff done.
I know it is easier said than done, but don't put too much pressure on yourself. If you have a strong work ethic, if you network, and if you are the kind of person others enjoy working with, you will find your success. Guaranteed. Best of luck to all of you in what I hope will be a very exciting and a little less stressful graduating year.