Graduation for the class of 2012 is drawing near. Soon, another huge batch of eager young whippersnappers will be leaving the comforts of college and attempting to join the rest of us worker bees and make their mark as professionals. Economic uncertainty and fierce competition can make the “real world” seem like a very daunting place these days, but that just means you've got to step up your game.
To inspire the grads in our community (and everyone else, too) we asked some awesome, accomplished, individuals in the worlds of publishing, public relations, and recruiting to share their best advice. We guarantee you'll get to the bottom of this post ready to fire up your engines and pursue your dreams!
Aliza Licht, SVP Global Communications, Donna Karan
“Life is not a dress rehearsal, you have to go for it. But it takes hard work & dedication and you might not always get what you want or what you ‘think' you deserve. It doesn't matter. Handle yourself with professionalism and remember in this business, it might be who you know that gets you there, but it's what you know that keeps you there. Mind your personal brand and the rest will come.”
Alex Zavlaris, Associate Recruiter, LinkedIn
On Interviewing: Preparation is noticeable. You can't ever be too prepared, make sure that your experiences come off as a story, where you're the protagonist who has had ups and downs, but came out in the end better for your experiences. Preparation applies physically and mentally, you never want to appear less professional than the person interviewing you. Do your homework, we live in the age of transparent information, know the company's website/Twitter/LinkedIn pages, know your interviewers LinkedIn page, you can learn a ton about someone judging from where they've been. And keep in mind, while you're researching them, they are researching you (might be time to change that Facebook profile picture, and make sure your privacy settings are up to snuff).
On Advancement: Be humble, but not shy. Make noise, managers can't read your mind and won't ever decide they want to pay you more money, you have to make your intentions known or you will never achieve them. Personality goes a long way. For a lot of places, being a good worker and good at work are different things, make it a priority to be good at both. Don't Panic. In less than a minute you can probably think of at least five people you are smarter than who go to work everyday, if they can handle it, so can you. Finally, expect to make mistakes, and embrace every one of them. Always remember that you will learn more from your mistakes than from your achievements.
John Jannuzzi, Contributing Digital Editor, Lucky Magazine
“I think the most important thing when entering the ‘real world' is to remember that you're still very young. You've graduated, which is an accomplishment, but to most people in the world you are still green. Never forget that you have much more to learn and if you remember that, you'll go far. The smartest people are the ones who don't stop learning.”
Meghan Donovan, Current Lifestyle Marketing
“Do whatever you can to set yourself apart from the rest. STAND. OUT. Put your education to use and do your homework when it comes to the industry you are interested in building a career with. When I was looking for a job out of college in PR, I wrote my cover letter as a press release. In every interview or even “we're not hiring at this time” conversation I had, I heard, “Your cover letter? This is genius” because it set me apart from the rest of the job applicants. So, be clever and ruthless and you'll go far. Want to work in PR? Meet with everyone in the communications field you possibly can to get up to speed on what's important, what their day to day is like, find out what publications you should be reading, etc. Model yourself into the most ideal employee so that when you sit in interviews you are intelligent, well-informed and eager. I can't tell you how many new and upcoming grads I just interviewed for our internship program who couldn't tell me the first thing about PR and furthermore, didn't even sound excited about the prospect of a career. We ended up hiring the girl who was upbeat and had clearly done her homework about agency life, social media and the likes.”
Connie Wang, Refinery29 Global Editor
“Never be too scared to throw caution to the wind and really go for what you want. Pitch to your dream publications. Ask for interviews with A-list celebrities. Splurge on that one camera that'll be the game-changer to your blog. Sometimes when you're starting out, you don't feel confidant enough to compete with those who have been in the game for longer, but that's the thing that sets you apart. Trust: Your anti-establishment voice and untrained point of view is an asset, not a hindrance.”