May 25, 2016
By Dave Bevington, Director of Automation, DRI
There is a stigma today that young adults are all hopelessly entitled AJ Soprano type individuals. While this is most definitely not the case, like it or not, it’s a reality every young job candidate needs to be prepared to overcome.
Before you graduate. Protect your reputation. Be smart—think and plan before you act. For example, never drink and drive. If you are compelled to go out, take an Uber! Why risk a DUI—it not only costs hundreds in penalties and fees—it sticks in the public record and can cost you tens and hundreds of thousands in reduced income over the course of your career. Also, your social networking activities can sink you. Just assume your prospective employers are watching because they are.
Find a mentor. A trusted, impartial advisor is worth their weight in gold. Pursue a relationship with someone who is willing to share the secrets of their success as well as the benefits of learning from their mistakes. In general, beware of mentors to whom you who are emotionally attached—I’ve seen more than a few instances where a boyfriend, Dad, Uncle, or Grandpa gave bad advice to a candidate during offer negotiations and that can kill a deal.
Beef up your resume. Cite projects, extra-curricular activities, and don’t sell yourself short. Also, no one cares if your resume is more than a page long. Make it clear you know PowerPoint and Excel. Indicate how fast you type. Presentation skills are essential in most any career sooner or later and your resume is a tangible representation of your ability to communicate. It should be clear, informative and aesthetically pleasing. Every word should have a role in answering the question, “Why me?”
Pursue internships. An internship is a great way to build your resume and distinguish yourself from other candidates. And once you are known and liked on the “inside” it is easy to network within the company. Ask for more responsibility and exposure and chances are you will get it.
Build your references. It’s never too early to start building a strong list of references. Stay in touch with former colleagues, supervisors, coaches, professors—and don’t be shy about asking them for letters of recommendation. In most cases they will feel honored you asked. Besides, you have nothing to lose—if you don’t like what they’ve written, you don’t have to include it in your application.
Personality counts. I specialize in placing engineers. In general it’s a group that does not have the best reputation for inter-personal skills. This can be a great opportunity for you to get ahead. Take a class on it. Read a self-help book. Practice, practice, practice. Being the exception, rather than the rule, can pay big dividends when it comes to getting a job and climbing the ladder.
Become well- rounded, well-traveled, and cultured. Go to museums, art galleries, and the theatre; learn a second language; visit a foreign country; learn to appreciate different kinds of music–jazz, classical, blues, and ethnic. Spend time with your grandparents, neighbors, and others with more life experience. Watch the History Channel, Discovery, Natural Geographic. Read, read, read! Why go through all this effort? Doing so will help you identify with older generations and enable you to better speak the universal language of humanity.
Target companies that are growing. Go to trade shows and ask around. Growing companies in stable markets are going to have the most advancement opportunity, stability, and most times they are the best paying Companies because they know they need to retain their top and even middling employees.