I am currently a junior at Claremont McKenna College. Over the past six months, I have been inundated with career decisions that have forced me to question who I am, what I value, and where I would like to see myself post-graduation. Daunting, especially since I’m making these decisions in my bedroom.
Let’s face it -- the last six months have pretty much sucked. I never expected to feel a wave of panic, as I did last spring, scrambling to look for internships as it felt like the world was ending. But I did get one at the Time4Coffee Podcast where I transcribed highlights from over 100 episodes with guests in dozens of different careers. Through the course of this less than glamorous work, I learned some super valuable lessons for those of us who will be entering the ‘real’ world later this year. I sympathize with what many of these professionals have gone through and believe I’ll be able to use what I learned and apply it to my personal and professional life. I hope 5 of my biggest takeaways will help you, too.
First, let me start by saying COVID-19 has greatly affected the whole world much more than words can describe. What has happened this year is truly an unquantifiable tragedy. Nevertheless, I would be lying if I said I didn’t initially feel especially victimized by the virus.
This started for me back in the beginning of March when it forced me to return home early from my college semester abroad in Spain. In fact, during my last few days in Barcelona, I actually contracted the coronavirus and brought it back to my family in New Jersey. The crazy thing is, I would not rank being sick with the virus or having my semester abroad cancelled as the worst of what COVID-19 did to me this year.
Find your why. A speech about everything is a speech about nothing. Anchor your remarks around a central value or message. Before you draft, think about what you want to say and the headline you’d like to see in the next day’s papers. You should be able to sum up your speech in one sentence. Ask yourself: so what? Why does this message matter and why now? The sharper your answer to the “so what” question, the more compelling your speech will be.
This is a wake-up call for graduating college seniors that you may not hear from other adults in your life.
I can only imagine how your parents would react if brave college career counselors were to tell you what I’m about to say. [And maybe some are – and if so, good on them!] Fortunately, I don’t have to field phone calls from pissed off parents who’ll read me the riot act because I told their child the hard truth -- even with their costly college diploma almost in hand.
So, here it is -- my most sincere advice about how to think about finding a job when you graduate, especially for those who won’t have the luxury of someone else paying their bills in the short or long term, is to put practicality ahead of ‘passion’ in your post-college job search.
Graduating from college is anxiety provoking even when there isn’t a global pandemic happening. This time last year, I was finishing my final semester at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Overall, I felt grateful to be able to have such a fulfilling college experience. But I didn’t fully appreciate just how lucky I was.
The Class of 2020, on the other hand, has it particularly rough.
They are grieving the loss of a traditional end to their college career. Within a matter of days in March, it was ripped away from them. Now as if finishing classes online and graduating without a formal ceremony isn’t bad enough, they have to deal with an even worse fallout: trying to jump-start their career in a shaken economy and job market.
Although I can’t relate to finishing college online, I know what it’s like to scramble for a job in this unprecedented time.
Taylor Roar, 21-years old, UMD, Class of 2020
There’s no simple way to conceptualize everything that’s happening in the world right now. The moment everyone realized COVID-19 was a serious health risk, it felt like the world stopped.
All of our lives have been affected. There’s a universal feeling of anxiety surrounding the seemingly infinite unknowns we’re forced to sit with, all without the support of the loved ones we’d usually be able to lean on.
For me, the most devastating blow was the sudden end of my college career. As a senior, I had so many loose ends I planned to tie up. I never would’ve guessed I’d attend my final lecture and have my last college night out on the town without the chance to savor those moments. Having that realization has caused me nothing short of grief.
The greatest thing I’ve done during this time is allow myself plenty of time to acknowledge those painful feelings. I know whatever you’ve lost may seem small in comparison to a pandemic, but however your life has been affected is valid. And the way you choose to mourn these sudden changes is valid as well. Some of us make internet memes that keep us smiling through the pain and others remember our lives as they once were and cry. Acknowledge what you feel, in the healthiest way for you.
I don’t remember how old I was when I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real, but I’m quite sure it was years before I graduated from college. I’m guessing the same is true for all of you too.
So then why do many college graduates still believe in another fairy tale of sorts – that ‘perfect’ jobs exist?
I get it.
The desire to hold on to the magic of our childhoods is powerful. That’s why when my then 9-year old young son started to suspect Santa might not be real, and asked me point blank if he was, my answer was simply: ‘Santa Claus exists for those who believe in him.’
But, my young friends, especially those graduating in May or June of 2020, I’m not going to parse words with you.
I’m 20 years old, and have had plenty of experience with failure.
I didn’t get into any of my top three colleges (sorry, Maryland). I’ve screwed up on an article for my high school newspaper. I’ve missed three crucial penalty kicks in soccer matches at all levels of play (trust me, it’s an English thing.) Through all these failures, I’ve always had people around me for a pick up, an urge to keep going. Sometimes, though, that’s not enough. Sometimes, an outside perspective, maybe even from a complete stranger, is more helpful.
Before listening to the Time4Coffee podcast, I thought all of the most successful people in the world have never done wrong on a major scale. I’m happy to say I was proved wrong. Indeed, some renowned figures across all fields have experienced enormous failures and adversity. Yet their headstrong mentality has kept them going, even spun the failure into a good thing — which was not only a major takeaway but also a massive inspiration for me.
I have a confession to make and I’m doing it on LinkedIn, the global networking platform for professionals, in the hopes I’ll be able to encourage other successful professionals, like you, to join me in shaking off a stigma. Here it is: I was fired twice in my 40’s. The first time I was 43 read more>>>
Dear College Seniors,
If you haven’t figured out yet what career you’re going to pursue when you graduate in May 2020, and you feel like there’s something wrong with you because you haven’t, I have an open secret to share with you.
Most of us didn’t have a clue!
I don’t know who the person is who started perpetuating the myth, because that’s exactly what it is, that the majority of those who’ve graduated before you somehow had it all figured out when May rolled around. But let’s find him and whack him upside his head!
Far from being an outlier – you’re in the middle of the pack among your peers and that’s 100% normal.
I genuinely do not think I have ever followed through with any new year's resolutions.
Chances are you’re not one of the 8% of people who accomplish them. Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days. I know this is an uninviting statistic but here's the punchline, in 2020, we’re not setting resolutions, we’re setting goals.
Grit is what happens when hard work and dedication hook up and have a baby. It personifies a steely determination to get something done despite obstacles standing in your way. So many of the guests on T4C have had to cultivate grit, perhaps more than any other quality, to achieve their professional goals. But, if you’re anything like me -- a sophomore in college who is trying to figure things out -- that may seem intimidating, confusing and overwhelming to consider. Feeling like you don’t know where to start? Look no further; here are five proven ways to cultivate grit in your life.
The decisions we face as college students are unimaginable. What do I wear? Should I spend my last $6 on a beer or on a meal for dinner? These questions try us even in our weakest moments. But besides the trivial decisions we are tasked with on a day-to-day basis, we are also constantly anxious over the substantial life choices; jobs, relationships, money, complete and utter independence.
Failure, to most, seems like one of the harshest seven letter words out there. Falling far short of your goals can be a terrible feeling. But when you go off the cliff, or face plant, it is crucial to look at those moments as opportunities to grow. Not accomplishing a certain goal, can provide many insights, which can later help fuel future professional achievements!
Don’t believe me? Well, take it from some of our super successful Time4Coffee podcast guests. Below are the top 5 hacks as to why failing can actually be a good thing.
Every one of my family members knew where I was going to attend college: New York.
There was no question about it even when my school of choice only offered me half of the tuition; even when their scholarship program rejected me; even after receiving no response to my letter that practically begged for more financial aid.
So when the financial office at my NYC dream school told me that no amount of loans could help me to afford the school, I remember calling my brother on the phone in tears, crying so hard that I could barely stand from the pain in my abdomen.
Listen up, Java Junkies. I don’t know about you, but when I see a list of episodes, all concerning health and wellness, I immediately think that what I’m getting myself into is a bunch of medical professionals telling me how awful my college lifestyle is.
And yes, in a sense, that is what happened. But it was better than I thought it would be.
It’s your senior year of college, or perhaps you’re about to finish a graduate degree. You’re one step closer to earning well-deserved paychecks at your first post-school job. But you’re not sure what your next steps should be. Maybe you don’t know what you want to do or where to apply. Maybe you’re concerned about taking a job that could derail a career trajectory you’ve dreamed of. Or maybe you realized during college that you’re actually interested in work that isn’t related to the field you’re earning your degree in. What do you do now? First things first, don’t panic!
I’ve always loved history and museums more than the average kid. School field trips to the Smithsonian were more than just a chance to get out of classes for me; they were a chance to learn and explore my passions in a fun and interesting way.
I thought that my fascination with museums would be a side interest, a hobby, and nothing more, until this summer when I joined Andrea, T4C’s Chief Java Junkie, during her interview this summer with the chief curator of the International Spy Museum, Dr. Alexis Albion.
While the journalistic craft can appear narrow with its heavy focus on writing and producing for the print or broadcast news media, there’s no question that as a college major it helps equip students with a diverse skill set that carries weight in countless careers. As a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism who realizes traditional, hard news journalism isn’t for me, I used to find it difficult to imagine realistic and alternative career paths.
While job prospects for today’s college graduates have improved in the last decade, since the Great Recession of 2008, securing a job out of college remains a challenge for many graduating seniors, like me. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the nation’s full-time employment rate for recent graduates hovers around 58%. That means 2/3rd of us remain unemployed or under-employed.
If you’re a graduating senior who’s overwhelmed by the job application process, worried about your career prospects or unsure what field is right for you, breathe — you have time to figure it out. Sure, outside of extracurriculars and other internship or job opportunities, we’ve spent the vast majority of our lives in the classroom. And when graduation day comes, we’ll no longer wait for a bell to signal the end of our days. Then, we’ll be expected to enter unfamiliar territory and navigate the waters of adult life on our own. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. I, too, will be walking on stage to get my diploma, in just a few weeks, as a May 2019 graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. And, as of right now, I don't know what I'm going to be doing post-graduation.