It's that time of year again – Martin Sheen did it. President Barack Obama, Tom Brokaw, Bill Clinton and Steven Colbert did it too (just to name a few). If you haven’t guessed it yet, these famous names were all commencement graduation speakers in 2013. Students all over the nation are clinging on to the advice from these speakers, taking in every single word that will aid them in their new role as an adult. To the class of new graduates, receiving a diploma means embarking on an increasingly difficult journey through the job market. They’ve no doubt used campus career centers and even good old-fashioned face-to-face networking to begin their careers. New grads have many difficult choices to make during the job search, and considering the well-documented underemployment among America’s recent grads - the stakes are as high as ever.
Not too long ago, I found myself in these same shoes. As a college student, it’s easy to feel invincible and hard to believe all the frenzy about unemployment and job rates. Boy was I in for a surprise. Similar to many others, the path to my first job began long before graduation. During my junior year of college, I set out to find the ideal summer internship. The point was to target an internship at a company you aim to work at post-graduation. In some cases, under the direction of parents, siblings, or other mentors, students had been outlining this path since their freshman year or earlier. I found myself a bit late to the game here, and could have greatly benefited from such direction- but nonetheless, I was able to finally secure an internship at my university.
At my summer internship through the guidance of my talented co-workers, I immediately found myself immersed in numerous exciting projects. Despite this, I had my sights set on a career in a more fast-paced environment, and while I enjoyed my summer on campus, I would have benefited from some experience in an industry more directly related to my targeted career path. Just before graduation, I accepted a full-time position at another university, with responsibilities very similar to those at my previous internship. Again, I enjoyed the job and respected my team and their mission, but I was still not working in the role that I had always aimed for. Finally, after six months and another job hunt, I secured my job at TheLadders. This landed me in the type of role that I had always envisioned, and I couldn’t be happier with how everything has turned out. However, as I reflect on the job search process, I tend to wonder whether the right advice could have gotten me here sooner.
Graduating only a year ago myself, I can relate to the difficulties many will encounter in their first job search. I remember the inspirational words of my commencement speaker, Patrick Wilson, “Don’t worry on what will happen, concentrate on what is happening; just be in the moment.” As encouraging as these words are to me, what I really needed, and what I think a lot of recent grads need, was some guidance detailing the journey of the job search and all that comes with it.
Recruiters, you’ve heard my story.
Now let us know: What is your one piece of advice for recent college graduates in pursuit of a career?
John Dombek is a Data Analyst at TheLadders. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2012, where he studied statistics. John is passionate about the application of statistics in the world of sports, and is thankful not to be a Mets fan.