6 Steps For Life After College

To all those who just graduated in May, CONGRATS! I hope you’re enjoying your summer full of graduation parties, but when all the presents and cards full of money disappear, do you know what to do next? Here are my 6 steps to start a life for yourself after graduating from college.

1. Find a place

Find a place you can see yourself living for 5 years. You will want to stay in one place to build a reputation and create a network. Moving form city to city will make it hard to build a reputation because every time you move you will have to start from square one again. It is also hard to be referred across states for entry level positions. 5 years is, on average, how long it takes to climb the latter a little bit and build a name for yourself.

2. Create a Financial Plan

Now that you know where you want to live you can start creating a financial plan. You can do this even before you move, in fact it’s better if you do! Look at the prices of renting an apartment in different neighborhoods. Will you have to pay for public transportation or gas? Will you want cable and internet? What about utilities, what will that cost? The answer to all these questions will help you decide how much you need to make, how much you can afford realistically and will help you start creating your own budget.

3. Find A Job

The next step is to find a job you enjoy and pay the bills. Apply to jobs that fit within the field you want to work in or will give you some identity capital. Do not apply to just any job. Applying to jobs you don’t care about or aren’t beneficial to you is a waste of time. Employers can tell when you’re just applying for applying. Find jobs you’re actually interested in and would be proud to have.

4. Meet New People and Network

Get out of your circle! Meet new people! Network! Surprisingly, you will not advance in your careers because of your closest friends. Most of the time it’s from people you barely know; the weak ties. Also, meeting new people and networking will open you up to a whole new set of resources and advice you couldn’t get anywhere else.

5. Work Hard and Build Your Brand

Work hard at your job. Show that you want to be there. Build your skills and your brand. Building a brand for yourself is probably the most important thing in this economy. The best way to start is with a website. Build a brand for yourself so people know what you are about right away. More and more recruiters and employers are going online for their next hires. Make sure they can find you!

6. Learn About Yourself Along the Way by Listening and Observing

As you start your journey as a young professional learn about yourself. See what your strengths and weaknesses are. Try new things, test your boundaries. Being in your twenties is the best time to take some risks to find out more about yourself. Decisions and habits you create during your twenties will form who the adult version of you will be, most likely for the rest of your life. Take advantage of your time while you can still mold the clay of who you are.

Are you having any trouble starting a life after college?
Tell me below or email me at asktheyoungprofessional (at) gmail (dot) com!

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6 Job Search and Application Tips

Summer is coming to a close and companies are starting they search for new hires. If you’re looking to apply to a job think about these 6 tips during your job search.

1. List What You’re Good At and What You Like

Before you start sending out applications to any hiring company, know yourself. List your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, goals and dreams. You’ll waste much less time searching aimlessly online when you know yourself better. You can be more specific in your job search to find a job and company that suits you.

2. Find Something That Suits You and Makes You Happy

Now that you are properly prepared you can start the search. Find a position you can succeed in. Even better, find a company you can support and advance in. Finding a company you can support will give your work meaning and purpose. You’re passion about your work will give you the drive to make an impression and advance through the field.

3. Gather Your Experience and Qualifications

Narrow down what experience and qualifications you have that apply to the job. Think about what you’ll use in your resume, cover letter and portfolio. Do you have any online presence you can included? Or other “outside of the box” qualifiers? You don’t need to list everything on a resume, only items that most apply to the position and create a story about you.

4. Find A Way To Stand Out

When that big pile of black and white resumes lands on the employer’s desk, how are you going to stand out? Will you stand out by the design of your resume? The story in your cover letter? An unique experience? Come up with something creative so you will be remembered.

5. Represent Yourself Correctly

Sometimes we can get caught up in the formality of the job search. Don’t lose yourself in all the paperwork. Make sure you’re presenting yourself in the right way. Don’t sell yourself short. Show some personality and what you can bring to the company. You can do this through what information you choose to share on your resume and cover letter; how you design your resume; and your online presence.

6. Complete The Process

You can find numerous articles and resources on how to create a resume, write a captivating cover letter, properly dress for an interview, and how to prepare interview question and answers, so I won’t dwell on that. Just remember when you are doing the professional thing, be the charismatic you. Show your true self. Let the interviewer get an idea of you are. Genuine personality is more attractive than dishing out answers you think they want to hear.

Today I will be posting more articles and tips on job searching, applying and interviewing on Ask the Young Professional’s Facebook page! Follow today! 

What other job search and application tips do you have?


Personality and Interviewing

I know I’ve stuck by my girl Dr. Meg Jay saying that identity capital can be the reason someone gets the job over you, but what about personality? Sometimes your personality is the reason why you don’t get the job.

Maybe you just don’t fit into the culture of the company. I know Zappos has a very specific atmosphere they want to maintain in their office. I personally think that’s smart. It is a good way to keep moral up at the office and give good service. Take South West for example, they have such great service! They hire people for a positive personality that can work in some of the hardest areas of hospitality.

You also might not get the job if the interviewer just “doesn’t see it”. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. I can’t say I blame the interviewer either. This can happen a lot when you’re working very closely with one other person. If your personalities don’t mesh, but instead mix like oil and vinegar then there’s a chance it could affect your work.

So what do you do? The way I see it is you have two choices:

1) Find a company that has a culture you fit into.

It is perfectly acceptable to say you do not want to change. You are who you are. Then fine a job that suites you. Are you really quiet and shy? Maybe a salesperson isn’t the best choice for you. Do you have a lot of expendable energy? Maybe you can focus that in a job that involves more physical activity. You might need to think outside the box or maybe you need to come back into the box and reach for something that’s not as extreme. You want to find a place where people are like you. They might not think the same or have the same talents, but they have similar personalities.

2) Be aware of your “unfavorable” qualities.

Are you a very talkative person? I think of Daisy Wick from Bones… I don’t know if you watch the show but Daisy Wick is an intern who is a very fast paste talker. Her boss, Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, is a very serious person who likes her facts. Needless to say Dr. Brennan let Daisy go because they did not work together very well. Long story short Daisy realized her “unfavorable” quality and how to restrain it. She staid true to herself but also made herself easy to work with for anyone.

Which is better? I honestly don’t know. I’m going to assume it depends. It depends on how you feel. Obviously there are cases where not getting the job outside of the job description is not professional or acceptable. There are the obvious discrimination of sex and race, but we’re talking about personality. These two examples I would have to say are legitimate.  I think they’re legitimate because they directly affect work atmosphere and potential.

What do you feel about this? And what would you do if you were in this position? 


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Dr. Meg Jay from The Defining Decade – 30 Is Not The New 20

Check out my girl, Dr. Meg Jay! She’s on TED talking about her lessons for twentysomethings.

I did a post series on her book, The Defining Decade, where we learned about the importance of using our twenties to build of future in work, family and personal life. Listen to this talk, read some of my posts, and take the time to read The Defining Decade. If you learn and act, you will be better prepared than most of your peers.

“Thirty is not the new twenty, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.” ~Dr. Meg Jay

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Reviewing Identity Capital

Believe it or not we have only covered one chapter of The Defining Decade over the last four posts. We covered four basic topics;

  1. What is Identity Capital?
  2. Erik Erikson’s exploration through his identity crisis and how he managed to gain capital
  3. Dr. Meg Jay’s experience with Outward Bound and how that played a role in applying for graduate school
  4. Underemployment, it happens to every twentysomething and how to deal with it

We’ve learned that identity capital contains the qualities and attributes you pick up over the years. For work it can be experience, training  classes, degrees and more. Erik Erikson taught us that identity crisis and identity capital should happen at the same time. We should explore ourselves to discover a genuine understanding of ourselves. It may not always have to involve back packing through Europe, but taking the time to learn about who we are is crucial. Understanding yourself will reveal what goals and aspirations you have for your personal and professional life. Dr. Meg Jay’s experience at Outward Bound is another example of discovering a true sense of self. She gained some capital at Outward Bound before applying to graduate school, which ultimately made her stand out from the applicant pool. Finally, we covered the topic of underemployment. Every twentysomething experiences it. We know underemployment jobs either pay the bills while we go to school or open the door to new opportunities. We now have Dr. Meg Jay’s advice to choose the job that will give us the most capital. There are four more chapters under the work section of The Defining Decade that I would love to share with you. They are…

  1. Weak Ties
  2. The Unthought Known
  3. My Life Should Look Better on Facebook    (I split this topic into two posts; here and here)
  4. The Customized Life

We will learn who the people are that will help us advance on our career path. We will learn what career path to choose. We will learn how taking action in our twenties will give us results and not leave us thinking we are behind. Finally we will put the pieces of our lives together to create our own future. I really hope you are enjoying this post series on The Defining Decade. I am only elaborating on a few points I found important to share. The stories shared in this book will connect with each reader in a different way. I encourage you to purchase this book or lend it from your local library because I think there is much more this book can offer you. I hope you continue to follow this series as well so we can continue to have great conversations and share stories. I love hearing from you all! I thank you for talking with me. 🙂

The Defining Decade – Identity Capital Part 4

Underemployment, it happens to all twentysomethings. Even though we are overqualified we accept these positions for two reasons:

1) A part time job to pay for expenses while we are finishing school
2) A job that gets us in the door for our chosen career path

We could take a part time position in retail or gather tips as a waiter/bartender to pay for schools, bills, rent, etc. An internship or a basic floater position might open up opportunities to work experience, networking and other job opportunities. Underemployment is not exactly glamorous, but as Dr. Meg Jay puts it in The Defining Decade, “some underemployment generates capital that trumps everything else.”

Some underemployment has no credit towards our future. In fact, it can actually hurt our resumes. Underemployment positions after college, with no explanation, are a red flag to future employers. It signals a period of misused time or lack of motivation; qualities a new employer does not want an employee to have.

Underemployment like this can also have an effect on our personal life, sometimes for the long term.

“The longer it takes to get our footing in work, the more likely we are to become, as one journalist put it, ‘different and damaged.’ Research on underemployment twentysomethings tells us that those who are underemployed for as little as nine months tend to be more depressed and less motivated than their peers – than even their unemployed peers. But before we decide that unemployment is a better alternative to underemployment, consider this: Twentysomething unemployment is associated with heavy drinking and depression in middle age even after becoming regularly employed.”

It is important, that we twentysomethings choose what to do with our time and how we plan to gain capital.

“Economist and Sociologists agree that twentysomething work has an inordinate influence on our long–run career success. About two-thirds of life time wage growth happens in the first ten years of a career… the latest data from the US Census Bureau shows that, on average, salaries peak – and plateau – in our forties.”

It is crucial that in our twenties we take the time to explore experiences and gather capital before we are weighed down; before “families and mortgages get in the way of higher degrees and cross-country moves, and salaries rise more slowly.”

Underemployment will happen and there will be tough choices to make. When you are contemplating your decision, think of Dr. Meg Jay’s advice,

“…Take the job with the most capital.”

*All quotes from this post and this post series come from The Defining Decade and should be accredited to Dr. Meg Jay.*

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The Defining Decade: Identity Capital Part 3

Another common misconception about the twenties is that it’s the last chance for freedom before real life begins. Dr. Meg Jay shares one of her client’s worries about letting go of her freedom too soon…

“I encouraged Helen to get some capital. I suggested she start by finding work that could go on a resume.

‘This is my chance to have fun,’ she resisted. ‘To be free before real life sets in.’

‘How is this fun? You’re seeing me because you are miserable.’

‘But I’m free!’

‘How are you free? You have free time during the day when most everyone you know is working. You’re living on the edge of poverty. You can’t do anything with that time.’

Helen looked skeptical, as though I were trying to talk her out of her yoga mat and shove a briefcase into her hand. She said, ‘You’re probably one of those people who went straight from college to graduate school.’

‘I’m not. In fact, I probably went to a better graduate school because of what I did in between.”

Helen’s brow furrowed.

I thought for a moment and said, ‘Do you want to know what I did after college?’

‘Yeah, I do,’ she challenged.

Helen was ready to listen.”

After college Dr. Meg Jay got a job with Outward Bound as a grunt in logistics, driving a van through the Blue Ridge Mountains. When an opening for an instructor position came up, she quickly seized the opportunity. She traveled through North Carolina, Maine, Colorado, Boston and more. She led trips for a wide variety of groups, from war vets to CEO’s to school groups. Jay recalls that when she started with Outward Bound she thought she would only be with them for a couple of years. Before she knew it 4 years had flown by. Jay comments on a visit back to her college town…

“Once, on a break between courses, I visited my old college town and saw an undergraduate mentor. I still remember her saying, ‘What about graduate school?’ That was my own dose of reality. I did want to go to graduate school and was growing tired of Outward Bound life. My mentor said if I wanted to go, I needed to do it. ‘What are you waiting for?’ she asked. It seemed I was waiting for someone to tell me to get going. So I did.”

Jay went straight to preparing herself for grad school. She made all the preparations for her portfolio and the interviewing process. She quickly realized that no one wanted to talk about her portfolio pieces or discuss scholarly articles and researches with her. After seeing her resume every interviewer wanted to talk about her Outward Bound experience.

Jay had a piece of capital that was different from other graduate school applicants. It made her memorable. So memorable that she was known as the Outward Bound girl until she got her doctorate from Berkeley.

From Dr. Meg Jay’s experience we learn that not only is it OK to take some time before entering a career or graduate school, but gathering unique experience can be very valuable. Unique experiences set us apart from a crowded applicant pool. It can give the interviewer or employer a visual to remember us by.

It is also important to notice that once Jay’s undergraduate mentor reminder her about her original desire to go to graduate school she took action right away. If Jay had put off preparations for graduate school she may have spent too much time at Outward Bound. Even though Outward Bound gave her some capital, too much time there may have set her back.

Now that we have understand what identity capital is and have the great example of Erik Erikson and Dr. Meg Jay to follow, we can discuss some of the practical advice Jay gives while we wrap up the chapter on identity capital in The Defining Decade.