Ask Amber: Finding your first real job

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

When sharing my blog with friends and gathering their input on what information recent college grads and grad students need, I get some great questions for my blogs—some of which have already been featured. However, I have come to realize that I have unintentionally neglected one of the biggest concerns that has been brought to me. I have written about building a resume and interviewing, but I have not yet given any advice on how to find a job that will do more than pay the bills. So this week I will share how to land the job that will let you use your degree and enrich your career.

Question: How do I find a job IN MY FIELD?

So you are preparing to enter the workforce (or at least a new career path). You probably have a resume and degree in hand, ready to take on the world but without a clue how to start. Here is some advice on how to identify position openings in your field and what to do when you have found them.

If you have read other Ask Amber blog entries, you will not find it surprising that my first assignment to you is to do your research. Go online and to the library to figure out what some of the major publications and membership organizations are in your field. These are great resources for staying up to date about changes within your field and could have job leads if you find state-specific resources. For example, the Colorado Nonprofit Association publishes research about the nonprofit sector, hosts conferences and even posts nonprofit job openings on its Nonprofit Job Board. Chances are the college you attend or graduated from also has a site for job postings. Don’t forget about career services!

Sometimes after students graduate they disassociate themselves from their school’s career services, assuming the college is no longer able to help them. This is simply not true. Most schools I have heard about offer their services to alumni as well as current students. This is an ideal resource considering the school’s career counselors are focusing their attention on building and maintaining relationships with employers and connecting students with these contacts. If you haven’t done so already, get in touch with career services to meet in person or over the phone about your career goals and how they can help to target your job search. Search the school’s job bank and identify jobs in which you are interested and what qualifications you need to get that job.

If you come across something in the required job skills that you do not possess, but you are dead set on that job, acquire those skills. I know that last bit of information will come as a blow to some of you who feel that your career education should have all been taken care of in school. For those of you who fall under this category, I will try to let you down easy—learning is a lifetime process and your degree should only be one aspect of your career training. There are organizations dedicated specifically to educating people in your line of work that can help you gain more knowledge and a competitive edge. Identify specific growth opportunities such as improving your computer or writing skills and find classes, books and anything else that can help you. For those of you in Colorado (or even those of you out of state who can access our webinars), JVA offers trainings in grantwriting, social media and auditing, among other things. Webinars may be the best training resource for young nonprofit professionals on a budget or who have unusual schedules.

If you take advantage of any of the services I mentioned, make sure you use the opportunity to network. I’m sure everyone has heard about the value of networking, but really it can’t be stressed enough. Mashable offers 7 Tips for Surviving & Thriving at Networking Events for those who feel out of their element in such situations. Go into every event with an open mind, knowing that everyone there has something to offer, be it advice, more resources or potentially a job if you are lucky.

Be willing to share your tips as well, after all, meeting other young professionals (not just employers) can really enrich your job hunt, and remind you that you are not alone in the job search and that there are plenty of opportunities out there. Though a lot has been said about our generation’s trouble finding work, the fact that two-thirds of all Millenials are currently employed part-time or full-time (according to the article 36 Facts About Generation Y in the Workplace and Beyond) should give you some hope.

Read Ask Amber next week for the story of how one such Millennial is establishing a successful career after graduation: my coworker Katie McCune. Katie was recently asked to participate in a speaker panel about jobs in the public service sector.

For more tips on landing your first big job, click here.


This entry was posted in Books and articles you want to read, College graduates and nonprofits, Generations, Human resources, Jobs/economic development, Millenials, News you can use, Trends and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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