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Just recently I shared something to my network and students about summer jobs and placements. It definitely went past just my network and was shared a lot to people I don’t know and probably won’t. It was a bit expected because when it comes to getting a job, especially as a student, you are eager. However, like I tell my students and others, when it comes to getting your foot in the door, ambition and skills don’t cut it. It took me a while to actually get my foot in the door and be proud of the job I have, feel rewarded, and constantly use my passion to produce something impactful.
Although it is still recent, and I don’t consider myself an expert I would say the challenges and hardships I have faced throughout this journey is not what I want for others, and that’s why I am writing this post to help others avoid the mistakes I have made so they can achieve their goals sooner and be more happier. Therefore take a look at these points below and I highly recommend sharing it with someone who would benefit from this especially students going to or in post-secondary and graduates of post-secondary education.
This is so common, in any stage of life, but especially with students and a big mistake I made myself. I worked at a job for several years that I really did not like at all and it definitely took a toll on me physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, I stayed because the pay was good and consistent. I am fortunate enough where money is not the sole important factor when it comes to a job. Don’t get me wrong, money is one of the important factors but if you get enough financial support, don’t make the mistake I did where I started to spend a lot on material things and costly desires instead of taking a role that was lesser pay but had a better opportunity to learn and grow. This takes time and strategy, I’ve worked 2 jobs at once for several years prior to focusing on one so definitely take the time but do what you need to do.
After I graduated from University, I did not pay attention to the minimum wage or even unpaid internships and that was a mistake that set me back a few years. I highly encourage students to apply for the minimum wage summer or short term contracts to get the valuable experience and even make an impression on a decent organization instead of waiting or settling for a job that only provides a financial benefit. I would even say that with unpaid internships, I did one for a month because I was desperate and I needed some skin in the game, and although it wasn’t the best experience I still learned a few things that I apply till today.
Easier said than done, believe me. I made this mistake a lot in University but now at work, I learned to acknowledge this and avoid it. I remember in University, there was a team member who really didn’t always have my best interest and often provided disheartening memories, actually gave me a recommendation that I should’ve considered when she first said it. To improve social media efforts and my design skills, she recommend I started to get familiar with Canva. I ignored it because I was focused on who said it. But around 2 years later I finally started to learn it, and understood how amazing it was, especially because it helped me become more comfortable with design. Even at work, I have someone who is always hyper critical of my work and often tries to look for a mistake or flaw. It’s discouraging, and I don’t let it bother me especially when there’s nothing wrong. However, certain things the person mention I still try and see, which has stuck with me when designing. This is also very common with professors who are so egotistical and really don’t care about you, you have to learn to separate their teachings and tips from the person at least for that semester to get the grades up for sure, but more importantly to get the valuable info they used so you can apply in the future.
I’ve noticed this a lot and it’s very unfortunate. This is more than just someone’s work ethic. When you dial it in because you feel that you are not getting paid enough or if it is not your own brand or main benefit, then it is not worth it. This is terrible, because it not only is disrespectful to the people you work with but also yourself, because no one wins. You dishonour your commitment and your company loses out on what could be great productivity and you miss out on tapping into a skill or potential you wouldn’t have known otherwise. It’s a bad reflection of character, and I am speaking more about the entry jobs related to your field. In my experience, I always try to give me 100% but if I am working a job that’s not the greatest or I really don’t like, it becomes challenging not to dial it in but that’s also a clear indicator to leave. At the end of the day, it does vary on the situation but doing your job and giving it your all is what’s going to best for you professionally and personally.
Last but not least, this is one that not a lot of people want to address but should. You probably hear a lot that you need to network, and networking is what’s important. Okay. But what about networking?
Look, networking can be intimidating but it comes in different ways, from just talking to the random person beside you to going to an industry invent or career fair. You need to be brave enough to stretch yourself a bit out of your comfort zone. However, that being said, you need to do your part with maintaining the connection whether it be actual conversations, social media engagement (eg. LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.), or just text messages here and there. I will be honest, I can’t remember all of my students, and frankly I don’t need to. I do my best to help, but if the student does not put any effort into maintain that relationship I will easily forget and won’t feel comfortable providing a reference or going to bat for them. It’s a little disappointing to see at times, and frankly it is hard for me myself but doing the little things of checking in, not messaging just for favours or at least having some sincere interest in the connection beyond your own self-interests is what is going to help your character and strengthen the value of your network.
All in all, those are just my thoughts. I am not a professional guidance councillor or career coach but based on my struggles and failures I wanted to share my tips and experience to help others with their journey. Let me know if you enjoyed this or found it helpful, and if you want me to write more posts like these. Support by following on Instagram and Facebook for more content