5 Important Habits that Lead to Your Dream Job
eing a college student is fun, but at times the pressure of what lies beyond the diploma worries you. What if you don’t land the job you want? What if all this debt comes crashing down on you? Unemployeement is at 8% so you need to prepare yourself if you want a good job, or better yet–your dream job.
Don’t be worried. Don’t be stressed. Just like any test you’ve prepared for in school–if you prepare yourself, you will be just fine and you will get the job. I have outlined habits that if executed right, would almost guarantee you the job you want.
Over my college years, I’ve landed multiple well paid internships and seen many friends graduate with excellent jobs. I’ve noticed some of the obvious differences between the ones that landed the job they wanted and the ones who are still “searching”. It is time to start preparing and separating yourself from the rest.
-Learn to network
Back to basics. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. You have to meet new faces that will be possible oportunities some day. Be involved with organizations and your community. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Personal Experience: After hearing an alumni speak about his success with his new job, a powerful accounting firm in New York, I literally jumped out of my seat in the middle of lecture to catch him before he left campus. He had mentioned something during his pre-lecture talk that I felt was important at the time. Panting as I finally caught up to him, we began to talk–he told me about his experience at Mizzou, a little about his job on Time Square, and spoke about my business idea. He pointed me to a great adviser (Keith), who was a university faculty member in charge of the futures lab and involved with many entrepreneur programs. Keith is one of the best networkers I know, and ended up introducing me to even more local business leaders that led to opportunities which built my networks greatly.
It is safe to say that that split second decision led to an advantage I will now have over the other 499 students who stayed in lecture that day. Opportunities to network are always there, though. So if you think you missed your chance, don’t worry. You need to learn how to recognize these opportunities and seize the moment.
Don’t waste time with useless jobs.
Having a job during college is not a highlight of your four years. Turn this into a positive by finding a job that adds to your career’s skill set. If your desired field is biology, get in a lab and do work. Research for local apprenticeship or lab assistant jobs in your university job listing or Google. Don’t expect the greatest internship right away. Gain experience and your next internship will be even better than the last.
Personal Experience: Last semester I applied for an internship that paid $12 an hour to work under the CEO of a large mortgage company. I was selected from a pool of other students who had excellent resumes. The funny thing is–I did’t use a resume. I had met the hiring CEO at a few other entrepreneurship events prior to applying. He didn’t know me well, but I had made a point to introduce myself. This is important because it gave me context when applying for the job. I was now seen as an involved and motivated candidate. I used this context to my advantage, so rather than sending him a resume that I’m sure would have taken a long time to craft as well as the other applicant’s, I sat down and wrote a personal letter explaining why I wanted the internship and why I felt I was a better candidate–making sure to mention the occasions when we had met.
Excuse me, but isnt that exactly the opposite of what they tell you to do?
Granted this might be valid advice if you are applying for a job with many applicants, but then you need to ask yourself–someone is on the other side of that opportunity as well. Have you created context with them?
I had a drink with the CEO before he finalized the offer and he explained to me that before he founded this multimillion dollar company (one of many), his college professor used his resume as an example of what not to do. Ironic, isn’t it?
Try it on your own time
Dell, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, were all founded by students on their own time. The time you have to yourself is much more valuable than you think. Spend it wisely. This continues my last point. Do something that has to do with your dream job. If you think that there is nothing you can do related to your job, I question your attitude and motivation. Read the following about an 18 year old student who did what he loved on his free time:
Taylor Wilson (18, Texarkana, AR) became the youngest person in history to create nuclear fusion. Since then, he has produced the lowest-cost and lowest-dose active interrogation system for the detection of enriched uranium ever developed. As a Thiel Fellow, Taylor will focus on both counter-terrorism and the production of medical isotopes for use in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
WOW. Don’t think you can do something like this? He is breathing the same air you are. Start small and work your way up. Do not worry about failing or succeeding, the fact that you tried will teach you more than you think. It will also give you confidence as you step into the real world. If you aren’t afraid of failing, you become that girl/guy in the fight who isn’t afraid of a black eye–fearless.
Separate yourself from other students. Your side jobs add valuable lessons to your resume, and don’t forget to use your experience as a conversation starter when you meet others. They will be impressed that you did things on your own time when most other students were watching Lost or worst, The Kardashians.
Personal experience: I started this website. Livingthecollegelife.com. It did not start as a website, though. It was a promotions pamphlet that failed miserably and eventually turned into this. I’ve learned so much through this: how to build websites after losing money and getting ripped off, I’ve learned how to edit content, how to use photoshop, leadership–the list goes on. I’ll never finish learning either, but I notice how my accomplishments thus far have opened many doors already that are closed to most others my age. I just started an internship for a division of the second largest defense contractor in the world making $14 an hour part time. I assist in updating one their ecommerce website and manage online advertising. I’m not saying this to brag, rather only to explain that this opportunity was possible as a result of trying things on my own.
Notice a need and learn it
Would you like to know why there are so many unemployed people out there? It’s because they haven’t opened their eyes to the opportunities around them–they are in denial that the job they had doesn’t exist anymore, and rather than learning new skills and adapting, they complain. We are experiencing a time of incredible change and growth. Adapt or be left behind. You need to notice trends in the market, and leverage them. This will mean you have to learn it, and learn it well. Whatever the problem or change is, be the solution.
Rather than a personal example, here is a couple of fascinating examples of others who adapted. During the 90’s there were kids in their teens and early 20’s making over $100K a year. Ryan Blair, had absolutely nothing. Dad left him, and he lived with his mom in a trailer. He explains how teachers labeld him as a bad student with ADHD. Well, he began to learn HTML one summer, and when the internet bubble came around, he had a skill which companies desperately needed. He could build websites, and since few people had taken the time to notice this change and learn the skill, he was able to charge a lot of money for it. And he had the common sense to invest it in other successful businesses. He found the need when most were skeptical of internet and made it happen. What are big changes going on today? Follow this link: Billion Dollar Business Ideas
Another example is Gary Vaynerchuck. I recommend googling him. He owned a wine business as the internet started to grow in 1997, he took that business and started selling online. It went from a 3 million dollar a year biz, to a 60 million dollar business because of Gary. By the way, the first year he sold around $200 of wine– so it’s not like he just picked the money from a tree. He worked at it, and knew the oportunity was there despite people that called it a phad and told him he was going to fail. He noticed the change and executed. What happens when you are successful and you don’t notice change on time? Well, ask Blockbuster, Circuit City, Borders about that.
Don’t be under the impression that you have to start your own business, either. Learning a new skill can lead to a healthy career anywhere. The fact that you are young and grew up with this constant change is an advantage you have over older applicants stuck in old ways of thinking.
Don’t be influenced by the masses
Do what you feel you need to do. Even if everyone thinks it will fail. Learning from your mistakes is a win. The masses live and die, those who stand up and try something new and push a boundary are the ones who open up new ways of seeing things. Columbus, Jobs, Gates, King, Lincoln—Remember, people hate change, and if you think or say something different, they will not like it. Push through it.
I hope these tips are of use to you. If you have any questions or would like to know more, let me know in the comment section below. I would also love to hear any tips that have worked for you.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs