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Last week at dinner Paul and I were talking about how much I had learned my first year post grad. I honestly thought it wouldn’t be much different because I worked at a PR firm or company every year during college. #LiesITellMyself
Your first year in the real world is such an exciting learning opportunity, but I noticed that college courses and even mentors didn’t give me as much honest advice as I needed. I’ve gotten a few requests for some transition advice, so I thought I would share the 5 tips that I think got me through this past year.
Learn from my mistakes and then you can feel free to take everything with a grain of salt! I know all industries are different, and what works for me may not work for everyone. However, I think these 5 things can be seen across the board and if all else fails I share my favorite work shoes in here somewhere!
1. Learn to Network
I used to think networking was just sitting down for coffee with my career idol and them telling me they would love to hire me. Earth to delusional Katey.
My sophomore year of college I was sending out e-mails that I thought were good networking ones and wasn’t getting any responses. I was freaking out and wondering if I had to change my major. I kept calling my dad and asking why so and so wouldn’t respond. He gave me the harshest, and best advice I have ever received.
“Katey, you have to assume that if someone has your dream job they don’t have time to sit down for coffee and give out free advice.”
I cried for 5 seconds in shock my dad told me that and then got my act together. Because of his advice I learned that networking boils down to a mutually beneficial relationship.
Instead of drafting an e-mail asking for advice, offer to help. Instead of expecting advice, show you are willing to earn it. Not only do you stand out from every other applicant and employee, but the person you are wanting to connect with will want to go out of their way to help you. When you reach out with no expectations but the willingness to work, your determination is seen as something a company not only wants, but needs.
I started to change my e-mails to stating that I would love to volunteer on any projects they needed assistance with. A lot of professors also have freelance projects going on at the same time, so help them! It is the easiest resume builder and you’ll be put in contact with people in the field you want to work in. Most of the time people will be so glad you asked to help, that they will skip you assisting a project and just head to Starbucks to chat over a White Chocolate Mocha!
2. Apply to a smaller company
If you got a degree in something you now realized you can’t stand, or you need a change, don’t worry. You’re like most of America. Just head to a smaller company, first! We all know that major companies put the resumes through a software searching for specific degrees, so I wouldn’t even start there. If you have a business degree and want to be a journalist, don’t head straight for the Dallas Morning News. Yes, you may take a huge pay cut, or you may even have to intern for free. However, building your resume is so much more valuable than being unemployed for 6 months searching for a break in the industry. A smaller company will give you the interview opportunity to explain your change of heart, and they can really get a feel for you. If you want to work in PR head to a boutique firm. The great thing about working for a smaller company is that you’ll get more hands on experience with projects than you would at a larger company [they always need more hands on deck] so you’ll really be able to see if this is what you want. If you still aren’t dead set on a smaller company, try a non profit organization. If you work in fundraising I promise they won’t turn you down trying to launch a new marketing campaign. They will gladly take your projects, and you have just created a new portfolio for a new job.
3. Get a realtor
Find a realtor who makes a commission from the apartment company or find an apartment locator service. They are free and save you so much time. I signed on the first apartment I saw because google was stressing me out.
It’s impossible to say, “I only want to pay this much, but need wood floors and a large bathroom” on a search engine. Tell a realtor and he can quickly tell you if your expectations are unrealistic or if he can find you a place. They also know of better deals going on in apartments that aren’t broadcasted on the internet. Apartments like to be at full capacity and locators know exactly how many open rooms are at each one.
If you need a roomie join a group on LinkedIn. For example, sororities have groups for recent grads in specific cities. People are always saying they need a roommate and it is easy to find a sorority sister to live with.
4. Create a signature look
If your parents ask if you want anything for graduation, splurge on a staple bag. Or save your money and buy your own! This is my favorite one for work. It will hold your laptop and all your goods, while keeping your look pulled together. Then, head to Target and buy all the red lipstick and black pants they have. Seriously. You’ll get an absurd amount to Target once you graduate anyways. When you don’t have a ton of money to build your work wardrobe, make like a Parisian and pull a simple look. Black pants and a white silk blouse always look chic [and you can get that at Target for $45]. Add a bright lipstick to create your signature look and you’ll look pulled together even if you just make small adjustments to that attire during the week [different jewelry, different hair styles, etc.]. With each paycheck pull a little bit aside and head to Nordstrom. Invest in a different colored silk blouse and a statement necklace. Three months in you’ll have all the basics you need and you can just invest in fun things like blazers from Anthropologie and my favorite work heels. Keep the red lipstick [or whatever color you prefer] on daily. It saves you money and everyone will think your are the coolest girl in the office who can only be bothered with neutral pieces and red hot lips.
However, if you get a Fairy Godmother for graduation and budget isn’t an issue, head to BCBG. Best. Work. Clothes. Ever. I don’t know how Max Azria makes you look 10 pounds lighter, but he just does.
5. Keep your Sundays free
The thing I was the most shocked about when I graduated was the lack of free time I had. You have to run most of your errands during lunch, but then if you don’t take lunch at your desk or with the team you can appear disconnected. Friday nights are saved for your girlfriends or boyfriend and Saturday is filled with birthday lunches and errands. Keep your Sunday clear so that you can keep your sanity. I seriously don’t schedule anything on them, that way I can really choose what I want to do. I find that if I go to church, brunch and head home after to relax and clean I have the best week. I feel organized and pulled together, which in turn helps with my work.
Most importantly, relax. Don’t compare you beginning to anyone’s middle. We have all been graduated and terrified of our first job. Keep your confidence because you are all girl bosses and companies crave that! If you have any other questions e-mail me! That’s what I am here for! To make you feel like a total smoke show at the office and at dinner 😉
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