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By: Ellen (Career Counselor & guest author)
A few weeks ago I was thinking about my own career success and how I’ve defined that since graduating from college 10.5 years ago. “Career success” at 22 probably revolved around getting a full-time job of some sort in order to pass time before I was ready for grad school. “Career success” now, at 33, looks very different. It’s about using both of my degrees to own and grow in my current role, while doing some strategic planning for whatever may come next. Using both of my degrees (Communication/Business for undergrad and Counseling for grad) wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of my mind when job searching for my first post-grad school position. However, that concept has now become incredibly important to defining career success for me because I’ve experienced how great it is for me to use both of my degrees in my current job.
Here’s the truth about defining career success…it looks different for everyone. Some people have it figured out when they graduate from college, but a lot of people don’t. Figuring out your career and career success takes time, it’s messy, and make look different depending on your stage in life.
In addition to sharing my own experience about figuring out “career success,” I did what everyone does when they’re looking for advice…I turned to Facebook. Here are some pieces of wisdom about career success from people who are in various stages of their careers and in various industries.
- Even though you have a degree, you still have to work hard to succeed.
- Be patient and open to opportunities given to you. You never know, it might sound horrible, but turn out to be something you’re really passionate about.
- You won’t use all your qualifications in all your jobs. Being (or believing you are) overqualified doesn’t mean the job you got hired to do doesn’t still have to get done by you.
- Talking about problems without suggesting solutions doesn’t really help anyone, especially not your reputation.
- Everything you get, you have to earn. You may have taken leadership courses and been the top of your class and done everything you were supposed to in college, but chances are good that you are going to start on the bottom and have to work hard to move up.
- You will not get the same kind of do-overs that you got in college. You don’t get to pick what your tasks are, you don’t get to decide you don’t feel like doing _____ today.
So how do you define career success?
Photo source: Unsplash | Jeff Sheldon
July 1, 2015. It’s been about six weeks since I walked across the stage to signify the end of my undergraduate education at UMD. I am now a proud Bulldog alumnus. In the last six weeks, almost everything about my life has changed.
For the past four years, I was on the campus of UMD almost every weekday (minus the three month span in between my first and second years as a student). It wasn’t just for education; I dedicated my life to the school as a student employee, even through the summers. UMD was not just a place for me to work, it was my life.
Now I sit here; six weeks removed from the entity I dedicated the last four years of my life to. Suddenly, you realize all these moments from the past are a blur. Everything in life is new again.
My last couple blog posts were about the anxiety facing the unknown abyss that is life after graduation. Now that I am fully submerged, I can confidently inform you that it is not an abyss such as the deepest parts of this earth, but the relatively shallow ocean waters around a great reef. It is not as dark as you would fear, and is not as deep as you would expect. Yet, things are not perfect. The underwater world is still unpredictable enough for anything to happen. If you panic, you could still be in great danger. If you rush, things will go wrong. Actions need to be measured and calculated. When you know the next move, acting with confidence will push you forward.
I am happy to report that I enjoy this new life. There are numerous reasons: I am learning a bunch in my new job. My new roommates keep me incredibly active and are always supportive. I know there are going to be future options to propel me toward my career and life goals. Clocking out legitimately leaves work behind for the rest of the day. There is plenty to like about the graduate life… Right now, anyway.
There is an incredible difference between the life I led as a student, and the one I am already leading as a graduate. I suppose that is the whole point of this tangled web of metaphoric blog post I weft. Yes, there are plenty of unknowns to be afraid of for when you yourself graduate; however, you will find a way to make it to where you want to be if you are patient enough to calculate your post-grad moves in life. Trust your friends. Trust your mentors. Trust yourself.
Photo source: Unsplash|Modestas Urbonas
Editor’s note: We’re welcoming Hayley back for a guest post! Check out all her previous work on the blog from when she was a student.
I have learned a lot of things in my first year in grad school. I expected to learn standard course material and major information you need to have before you move into your chosen profession. I didn’t expect to learn so much about what it is really like to be surrounded by people who share your passion; something I imagine is similar to what it will be like in the real world.
The people in my program all want to be school counselors and, naturally, when you narrow down the field like that you end up with people who share common interests and beliefs. I think this is something I should have expected but having never experienced something like this I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare for it. It kind of caught me off guard, in a good way. Being surrounded by people who are so much like yourself gives you the opportunity to truly be yourself and to grow as professionals together. I have made some great friends in my first year and will be entering my internships in the fall knowing that there are people supporting me and going through the same thing I am. I know once we graduate I will have a network of professionals who I can count on.
I have also learned more about myself in one year of grad school than in all four years of my undergrad. I am growing into the adult I would like to be and getting to know my adult self. Along with all of this growth there have been a lot of growing pains. I have become a stronger, more confident person and as a result of this, failures are becoming more difficult. I am putting in a great deal of effort to build up my own self confidence and self esteem but it becomes hard to do that when you are passed over for jobs or when you struggle to find internship sites. However, that network of future professionals in my cohort are there to encourage and support me through all of this. Grad school so far has been an amazing experience. It has been one of the toughest things I have ever done and I’m sure the tough part is just beginning, but if I could go back I would do it all over again.
Of Possible Interest:
- Surviving the First Year of Grad School
- Grad School: Now or Later? (our Pinterest board)
- Exploring & Research Graduate & Professional Schools
Photo source: Unsplash | William Iven
By: Ellen (Career Counselor & Guest Poster)
We are nearing graduation and I thought it would be fitting to share some life advice with our graduating seniors. We’ve actually done this before. Last year we gave out 10 pieces of advice for the class of 2014. I promise you, that advice still applies to the class of 2015. I wanted to share some real advice, from real people who’ve been out in the “real world” for awhile. Naturally, I turned to Facebook. I put out a call to friends (many of whom I have either went to college or grad school with or worked with) and they delivered some stellar words of wisdom about navigating life after graduation.
- You won’t work a traditional 40 hours a week at work. Be prepared to come early and stay late.
- Reading a book never fully prepares you for the real world. There will be things that only experience will train you for. When in those situations, do not be afraid to ask for assistance. If no one is there to assist you, use your best-educated judgment and learn from the experience.
- Stay in school as long as possible. Learn, travel, experience the world. Don’t join the real world – it’s draining. Ha – maybe that’s not a good one. 😉
- From every experience, you either learn how you do, or you learn how you don’t. You learn how you do want to complete a task/project, or you learn how you don’t. You learn how you do want to treat people, or how you don’t want to treat them. You learn how you want to be treated, or how you don’t. You learn how much you do value a person in your life, or sadly, sometimes how much you don’t…or how much you do matter to someone or how much you don’t. But there is always a lesson in everything, even if you can’t see it right when it’s happening.
- Stop thinking that wearing leggings as pants to work is acceptable.
- Don’t bring fish for lunch to reheat in the break room.
- Remember that it’s great if you like your coworkers, but that shouldn’t really matter when it comes to working well with them.
- Everyone seems to be so preoccupied with finding the perfect job, and picking their “perfect” career right out of the gate. That never happens. How many people do you know who are doing the same thing they started doing, 10 or 20 years later? Just find the right job for right now and everything tends to sort itself out one step and at time.
- Network, network, network. It is not “what” but “who” you know.
- Be true to yourself and don’t forget to love your life. Also self care, self care, self care!
- Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to have your “passion” be what you do for work. Yes, it’s nice if you really love what you’re doing for work, but that doesn’t always happen. Find something you’re passionate about and make sure it’s a part of your life somehow, whether in your work or your life outside of work.
Photo source: Unsplash/David Marcu
My previous blog post was a reflection on some of the stressors that face me as I prepare to exit school, and having nothing solid scheduled for the next year for the first time in my life. It’s a very interesting time in life, as the world is your oyster. The flip side of that is… Well… The WORLD is your oyster. How does one deal with that?
I am not certain why, but for some reason, this song (linked above) was something I listened to repeatedly when I was a child. Although it’s from some musical, (that I never even knew of until I looked it up just now) I had it on some sort of developmental-child-music-cassette-tape-thing. Sadly, I did not realize the important message in the song until my last year of the undergraduate college experience (meaning, I learned this, like, three months ago).
Compartmentalizing tasks. Simple as that. Seriously, every major project that is worked on needs to be taken one step at a time. Or, “One brick at a time, one brick at a time! One single solitary brick!” This lesson goes for life as well! Instead of dealing with the pile of stressors in front of you (which I sometimes affectionately refer to as a pile of dung) being able to shovel things one task at a time is very useful. I was stressing about trying to find a place to live. How did I deal with that? I found people to live with, a place to live in, and signed a lease. It’s done, and now I can move on.
If you haven’t figured out what the takeaway is yet, here you go: Take things one step at a time. It’s how I’ve managed to survive thus far, and it is how I will manage to get everything I need to get done before graduation. That includes getting a job!
It’s my last semester of school at UMD, and lots of things are changing right before my eyes. So much has changed, that my usual response to “How are you doing?” has switched from something like, “great,” “excellent,” and “fantastic,” to something along the lines of, “ehhhh,” “I’m alive,” or “hanging in there.”
As it turns out, there are certain tasks you have to get done in order to graduate, such as passing classes. Additionally, there are tasks you must complete in the same time frame, such as getting a job, or finding a place to live. Here are a couple of the stressors I am facing as a college senior, for your reading pleasure.
Getting a Job
It’s April now, and some places have already hired college seniors for upcoming jobs. If you end up in this category, you win the game I like to call, “Senior-ing” (you’ve done a great job of being a college senior!).
Other places are in the swing of the hiring process. If you’ve got interviews in place, but no job, it’s a bit stressful. Yet, a solution can appear soon, so keep your chin up!
Some places have not yet even posted the job openings yet. I’ll tell you what: There is nothing worse than knowing there is(are) job(s) you want to apply for, knowing it’s April, and they haven’t been able to post the openings yet. You just want to know where you will need to live; you want to know how much money you are making; and you want to stop searching for jobs! I would be lying if I told you I was in a different situation than this one. It just so happens that this leads to the next big stressor of college seniors (as experienced by Glen).
Finding a Living Location (Sometimes referred to as a “House” or an “Apartment”)
Alright, do you want to live with anyone? Where do you want to live? How will you pay for said living space? At first, I was among many people I knew that wanted to move to a different place, maybe with some friends of mine, with a brand-new sparkly job. If I get completely blown away by an offer, I might relocate. However, I am really leaning heavily toward finding a location that I am comfortable in, with people I am excited to live with.
“Why? This is the time of your life to keep moving on and upward with your life!” I’ve thought about that, but I have also reflected a bit on my own life values. Reflecting on my senior year so far, I haven’t done many “exciting” things. I am okay with that, but I also felt a sense of impending doom all year because of the large numbers of projects I have to complete. Right now, I am okay with scoring a job, and taking a year to myself to gear up for what is next in life. I would advise taking time to find what is comfortable for you after graduation. Are you okay with making a plan on where to live and sticking to it? Do you have the opportunity to sit back and get things figured out before you determine a living space? Where do you really want to live? Who do you want to live with?
So, yes, there are a lot of things to think about, and it is stressful when things do not work out perfectly right away. My hope is for you to be able to read these events in my own life, and be able to ask yourself the same questions about life after graduation. It’s extremely stress inducing, but if you take the time to think things through regularly, you can save yourself some stress later. “No pain, no gain!”
Of Possible Interest:
- Landed a Job, Now What?
- Finding Adventure in the “Transition Phase”
- Job Search (all of our blog posts about job searching)
Photo source: Lou Levit