As a twenty-something, finding a job is difficult. Unless you’ve managed to get into the tech-industry, an ever-booming field that appreciates our age, your options are slim. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re not strapped for cash, or if you’re not even sure which direction you’d like to take. If that’s the case, enjoy this time in your life when responsibilities are minimal and selfishness is promoted. But for those of us who know what we want to do, taking a few years to solely discover life isn’t satisfying. Think about it: putting 40 hours a week into a job you’re not passionate about can really weigh on you after awhile. We all have value and talents, and there’s nothing more satisfying than figuring out how to use those abilities 40+ hours a week whilst getting paid for it. So how do we get to this point?
1. Get an internship during your undergrad.
That is, if you’re in college. If you aren’t in college, an internship would equate to experience in the field you want to succeed in—start at an entry level position and focus on working your way up. Getting hands-on experience in general is incredibly beneficial, but the plus of having an internship in your undergrad is that it’s taken as course credit. No time is actually lost, and you’re building your resume. Internships, even if you don’t like them, can help you organize your career goals by eliminating positions you don’t believe fit with your personality, build connections with people who can help you get the job you want later in life. And like I said before, it gives you something to put on your resume. It’s fairly uncommon to get a job in your field with no knowledge of how the position functions.
2. Go to graduate school.
…IF the career you want requires you to have a graduate degree. If so, go and get it over with, as quick as you can, before your steam runs out. Understandably there are financial strains with going back to school. But again, if the job you want needs a masters degree, then the money is worth it. Not to mention that in graduate school, people will throw scholarships in your face. Because there are fewer graduate students at a university, there’s more of an opportunity to get your hands on some of the school’s funds. A lot of graduate degrees have specific scholarships for that program, and the programs themselves are generally small. I’ve received a scholarship each quarter, none of which I had to apply for. Aside from scholarships, your professors will be the ones helping you nudge your way into the profession. Show them hard work, and they will help you build connections in your field, write glorious letters of recommendation, and help guide you until you’ve reached your goals.
3. Have your resume and cover letter ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Your resume is usually one of a couple of hundred received. Your ability to turn your resume in quickly shows them you mean business and that you’re passionate about getting that position. Before sending it in though, have someone in the profession proofread your resume or cover letter. Understanding the industry you want to work in will help you work on the skills necessary for the job. It’s not about what the job can do for you, but what you can do for the job.
4. Set realistic goals and expectations.
We’re young, and our dream jobs are not going to be handed to us the minute we get out of college or feel like we’re ready. You have to be willing to put in the extra work in order to stand out. I worked as an unpaid intern for over two years before I finally got a paid position. And although it’s not my ideal job, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m still getting the experience necessary (and I also like my boss which is a plus). Appreciating that and knowing that eventually I’m going to get where I want as long as I keep putting in the effort is satisfying enough as a 24-year-old.
5. Have patience with the process.
Do you have kids? Are you married? Struggling to pay rent? It’s understandable to not have patience with the process if you’ve answered yes to any of those questions. There is not time for patience. But if you’re single, have a paying job, and can afford groceries, then you deserve to give yourself a break. We don’t need to find our dream jobs immediately, it’s unrealistic. As long as you’re networking, building relationships, working on your skillset, and maintaining consistent effort, than you’re doing the best you can and eventually all of that focus pays off. And I say this with experience. Each internship I’ve worked has narrowed my career goals and presented me with opportunities I wouldn’t have thought possible.
No these are not specific guidelines on how to get a job instantly. But they are suggestions on how to prepare you for your ultimate career goals. Finding a job isn’t as simple as reading this article. And as a twenty-something, there shouldn’t be pressure to make it all happen within the first few years of being an adult. From all of my internships and jobs, what I’ve learned is that most people are looking to build connections with people, and that takes time.
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