Shot of Brandi Graduation Advice

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Ten years ago this year I graduated college. Now that university graduations have wrapped and high school ceremonies approach, I thought I would list a few things I wish someone would have told me when I graduated. A Shot of Brandi commencement speech if you will ; )

1.      If you want to get a job in your major, it’s easier when you stay in your major-related field. Before I landed my first full-time PR job, I had FOUR internships. One during college, one during college summer breaks, one for a YEAR after college and then I accepted ANOTHER position at the PR agency that ended up hiring me full time. No, it wasn’t easy to make $1,000 a month or $10 an hour, but I found a way to make it work.

If you accept a job right out of college working at say a payroll company, chances are when you want to make a change, you will need to stay in the payroll field or start back up from the bottom at your desired company to get to your current salary. And after two years at the payroll company, you are 25 and want to go into say advertising. You are now competing with recent grads that will likely have several internships under their belt.

Get creative and make sacrifices to let you stay in your field. If you have to keep taking internships, find something else to help pay the bills (i.e. retail at night).

2.      You need to do internships. And that’s internship with an S meaning more than one. I was talking to someone the other day about a college student that is about to be a senior and is looking for a summer internship. The person said “Well, they’ve only had one internship.” Some would consider one internship after your junior year a good thing, but the more you have the merrier - or more impressive it looks on your resume! Oh and not only do internships give you experience in your field, they can also lead to husbands. That’s how I met mine!

3.      You can’t compare yourself to others. Especially if you’ve picked a non-traditional profession. Finding your first full-time job isn’t always as difficult as it was for me. I chose to work in PR and there are many paths for PR professionals – that’s what makes the search rather difficult! But say you have a friend that majored in accounting. There are clear jobs out there looking for accounting professionals. So for some of your friends, the job search may be easier. Once you actually land that job, people are going to move up the ladder quicker than you, people are going to get married before you and people are going to buy a big house before you. You can’t compare yourself to others. Learn to find balance – a way to be happy with your current position and situation, but still stay hungry to achieve your goals.

4.      Walt Disney was right – it really is a small world. Be nice to people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve crossed paths with people in which we have mutual friends. Or even how many times a friend has called and said “What do you know about XX…they applied for a job here and you two are Facebook friends.” Don’t burn bridges and remember the golden rule – treat others like you want to be treated.

A few other random things I wish I would have known 10 years ago:

·         The job that you accept after college won’t likely be the same job you have 10 years later. While I was at one PR agency for 8 of the last 10 years, I still had five different jobs in the last 10 years in three different cities.

·         You are going to send out A LOT of resumes. After college while I was working at Virginia Tech, I applied for 111 jobs. I still have the list and I show college students. I stopped counting the number of jobs that I applied for in the last 10 years. I can’t believe how many times I’ve been rejected!

·         If someone says: “Send me your resume…” Send them your resume! And be prompt! They may forget your conversation!

·         Learn about what a 401K is in college. A personal finance class can help too! Real world jobs have a lot of paperwork!

·         When someone (a parent’s friend, aunt, uncle, etc.) talks to you about a job opportunity, don’t automatically say no. Entertain their offer. Sit on it for a few days and then politely decline if it doesn’t interest you. If you are quick to say no (and you don’t currently have a job), you can come across negative or unmotivated.

·         Finally, when you pick a place to work – pick wisely. Pick a place that is a good company, but also select a place based on the people that you will work with. You spend A LOT of time at work, so you may as well like the people that you are working with. All of my jobs have allowed me to make friendships that will last a lifetime.