From Struggling Millennial to Thriving Young Professional

When I graduated college back in May, I was hoping to say “hello” to a salary and new life as an independent adult. I quickly learned I fell into a very common category of young adults struggling to begin their careers and moving back home, despite earning a college degree.
According to an article on Yahoo!, this common issue isn’t necessarily to blame because of perceived generational flaws, but actually because of the structural shifts in the economy. Only 1 in 3 people in their early 20’s have full-time jobs. This is because young adults require more entry-level preparation before being offered a full-time position.
I decided to ask some of Bravo’s millennials about their advice for staying ahead of the curve and jumpstarting their career.
Anna Idler: “A solid practice that I’ve seen help people of our generation  succeed in the difficult task of getting situated in the working world is networking not only to get a job, but simply to have good, in-depth conversations and, in turn, make genuine connections. Meeting and chatting with anyone that you find to be a leader during your job search – a family member, a close friend, an admired college professor, etc. –and asking about any advice they have rather than just setting up interviews with individuals whose companies are definitely hiring is such an important step to take as a millennial navigating the workforce.”
Kim Whetsell: “My advice is to take every opportunity seriously and don’t think you’re above any type of project. No matter how small the task is, take it as an opportunity to prove yourself and establish your reputation. Work ethic is something that can’t be learned in school, and that’s the most valuable asset to any employer.”
Jill Wolfe: “Don’t get discouraged if you’re not at your dream job right after you graduate. It’s still very hard to get a job right now. It’s easy to get out of touch with the world when you aren’t in school, so stay in touch with your professors and past supervisors. Start looking at companies you’re interested in, even if they aren’t hiring, and set up coffee/lunch meetings. 90% of the time, people have been in your shoes, and they know what it’s like to be looking for a job, they’ll want to help, even if it’s not with their company!
Internships, internships, internships! Most schools require you to do one; if you’re smart you’ll do two, if you really want to get experience three or more! The more experience you have the better. You get six months of time before you start paying back your school loan, use that time to crash with your parents and take another internship, even if it’s unpaid.
Keep reading! You’re not in school anymore, and your professors aren’t at your fingertips so you need to stay on top of what’s happening in your industry. Join local networking groups who usually bring in special speakers.  Mashable is a great source to keep up with changing technology. Don’t forget about newspapers, you need to know what’s happening in the world.”
 Megan Earley: “I think millennials/recent graduates/ current seniors need to think outside the box when it comes to job hunting. They have to understand that (most of the time) online search engines and random Google job hunts are not going to be the most successful option – today, students and graduates have to be proactive.  The key is to network like crazy.  Reach out to everyone you know, that could be your parents, your parents’ coworkers, your grandparents, neighbors, or even the family you used to babysit. See who they know in your field, and you could be pleasantly surprised. Reconnect with anyone who you have crossed paths with in the past who may be able to help you out. You are not asking for a handout here; ask them to meet up for coffee to discuss how they got into the workforce or how they got to where they are today. It’s all about forming these relationships – because essentially that is what you are doing. You are trying to establish a professional relationship with these people. You want people to know that you are serious and are making the effort to connect and are putting yourself in positions to meet new people. Don’t start your conversations as “Hey, I’m about to graduate and am looking for a job.” That probably won’t get you anywhere – but if you make the efforts to contact people and are open to expanding your network, you never know who can help you.”
Noelle Lorine: “Be proactive – Don’t sit around and wait for things to happen. You’re in charge of your own professional development and career advancement. Having trouble getting a full time job? Accept an internship offer and be the best intern the company’s ever seen. Stuck in a rut at work? Ask to be looped in on a new project, volunteer to do the grunt work for an upcoming event, ask to sit in on a brainstorm and draft a follow up memo with your notes as a reference for the team.
Don’t be afraid to work a lot – As millennials, we need to realize that there is literally no such thing as a 9-5 job anymore. Get to work early and knock off half of your to-do list — this gives you time to volunteer to help out on new projects and take on more responsibilities. Find the time of day that you’re most productive and schedule your life around it.”
Takeaways: Network, intern, offer your help and stay informed!
Thanks to Bravo’s millennials for their advice!
~Brittany Dudas

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