Senior Career Survival Guide - Spring 2009
A few suggestions on what you should do next year if you don't already know (from someone without a clue)
Across the country and even at wonderful CMC, college graduates are preoccupied with a failing economy and anemic job market leading to despair across campuses everywhere. Are you sweating? Are you losing sleep?
If you are, good! It's that same preoccupation that has gotten you into a wonderful institution like CMC and will continue to promote your success through the rest of your life. If you aren't, you're like me and you're able to put a little perspective in the situation. Take a look at these few suggestions and see if it doesn't ease the tension.
The Economy Sucks- Get over it. The economy goes up and down and drags the job market around with it like a model with a loser boyfriend. Good thing it will come back someday and you should focus on being ready when it does and finding the best possible way to prepare and apply yourself until it does. Some companies will continue to cut costs by "going younger" and this may give you a relative advantage. It also may give you an opportunity with a higher profile position than an entry level employee could usually attain because they want to give you less money than the old dude they fired
Assess your Financial Needs- You're going to have to sit down and figure out how expensive your tastes are. Do you really need to keep running that credit card at every place you go? Or are you going to be swiping the parental card? For most of us, life doesn't cost too much. I need a place to sleep, food to eat, and enough to buy a cheap bottle of booze now and then. Can you trade your single malt for some Jim Beam? Can you pick up the big bottle of Cook's rather than the Dom? Do you need that Grey Goose or can you learn to like Popov? OK that's intense, but you get the point. You no longer have to pay 5 billion dollars a year to CMC in tuition, but they will try to get you to donate half of that next year, sorry.
The point of the section is that you'll be fine without that six-figure salary, unless you live in New York. Find out how much money you need and plan accordingly. There are some fun jobs out there that will pay the rent like a bartender in Italy, a ski instructor in Vail, a white water rafting guide in Arizona, or if you're huge like me a bouncer at a club.
It's your first year out of college you don't have to start saving up for retirement. If you got bills to pay, you got to grind it out a little, but living young and modestly can go along way. If you need to ball out, then you got to get out there and figure it out or marry a rich girl.
Could you do your own thing? - As it is said, the greatest fortunes are attained during the worst economic times. Would you be comfortable starting your own business? Could you maintain the necessary work ethic? Can you take the lack of security? A lot of people actually want to have a boss and cubicle so that they can feel safe. A tough job market is the best time to try something out on your own. If it doesn't work it will still show initiative on your CV.
Don't be Shy- If people ask you what you are doing next year and you don't know, don't say, "I've got a few things I'm looking at", unless you do. It's important to let people know you're still trying to figure it out. People you know will remember and keep an ear out.
I feel awkward as hell doing it, but you have to be shameless in chasing leads if a job is what you want. I had a friend once who e-mailed a big shot at Lehman about a job and didn't receive a reply even though the guy told him he could help him out. He didn't receive a reply after his next e-mail or the next 28 he sent out but he eventually got a reply and the job. I know Lehman is a bad example but you get the point.
Get Weird- If the Career Resource Center hasn't done anything for your luck go somewhere else. Hit up family, friends, former co-workers, former classmates, former coaches, or people at bars. Everybody knows somebody, not just the ladies above Heggblade. If you look off the beaten path a company will receive less applicant volume and get a better assessment of you. I had a friend last year who never even thought about a job until the summer after he graduated when he found a hedge fund with two employees looking for an extra guy. In times like these, get weird. Look at small companies you never heard of, look at companies in countries you've never heard of, look in industries you've never heard of. There is no right way and nothing says you have to go work for an investment bank or consulting firm.
Can you handle more school?- If you're like me reading books, then listening to someone talk about them, and finally taking a test or writing a paper on the whole experience is becoming a little dull. That said, there are worse places to be than graduate school.
Military/ Peace Corps/ Volunteer- I think they'll take you.