Entering into the world of business can be intimidating, especially if you have no idea where to begin. This time last year, that was me. A senior in college, in love with my job and content to stay exactly where I was forever. But eventually realism kicked in and I began my job hunt. Whether you are a 16-year-old looking for your first summer job or a twenty-something looking to break into a new industry, there are many ways to go about searching and applying for jobs. Here is my advice gleaned from both hindsight and finding steps that worked for me. May it serve you well…
- Start applying early. I know your mom has probably told you this already, but it really is important. Not only will this prevent you from spending hours frantically applying for fifty jobs just before the deadline, but you can make sure you are one of the first candidates the organization sees.
- Apply for more jobs than you think you need to. Even if you’ve spent hours on multiple days (been there!), keep applying for jobs. Even if the job isn’t for the exact position you want, it’s better to get your foot in the door with a company that offers the career you’re looking for than hope something better comes along.
- Don’t be a job snob. I’ll admit I was when I first starting applying for jobs. I primarily looked for internships and jobs under companies like HBO, Turner, Screen Gems, and Pinewood. While there is nothing wrong with dreaming big, don’t limit yourself to those big name companies. Don’t be afraid to start smaller. You can always move up, but if you try to start too big, you’ll likely end up disappointed.
- Study up on your interview skills. Sometimes, you prepare and it still goes wrong, but it never hurts to research commonly asked interview questions and how to answer the dreaded, “What is your biggest weakness?” question.
So, let’s say your dream company takes you on as an intern or a base-level employee. What now? How do you make the most of your job, help the company be the best it can be, and ensure you stick around?
- Volunteer. Let your superiors see you are interested. Even if the project doesn’t sound that exciting to you, it never hurts to show that you are willing to help.
- Be willing to do unpleasant tasks. This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous step. As an intern or new employee, you will most likely be asked to do an assignment that does not excite you in the least. Just do it. This tip may seem obvious, but I have worked with people who really missed this. Being willing to work late, perform a monotonous task, or make numerous phone calls will show your boss that you are serious about the job and it takes a lot of stress off of them too.
- Ask questions. No matter what industry you are trying to break into, communication is key. If you don’t understand something, ask! Your employer would much rather explain something to you than have to correct you for doing it wrong.
- Play nice with others. You will probably work with people you don’t like in the course of your career, so learn how to deal with them. Learn how to communicate. For the sake of everyone else you are working with, you cannot let an unpleasant person put you in a bad mood. This can be very confusing and frustrating for those around you who have no clue what is going on. If you believe that what the person is doing is detrimental to the project, confront them about it privately and work out a solution. We are all adults, so act like it!