Cashay sister site Built by Girls gathered some tips for young people unsure about their career prospects right now:
1. Study up on job descriptions
If you’re confused about the right career after graduation, study up on job descriptions.
“If you’re not sure where to start or what you’re interested in, that’s okay,” Built By Girls Community and Programs Lead Danya Sherbini said. “Think about some of the classes that you really enjoyed, the student groups you were involved in, or some of the internships you had and really loved.”
Sherbini recommends that graduates, after taking skills and strengths developed in college into account, compile job descriptions from online postings into an excel spreadsheet and highlighting key words that jump out.
“First, the skills that the job is looking for in a candidate. And second, the description of the role and responsibilities that that job would perform,” Sherbini explained. “And then start thinking about examples from your own experience, professional and academic, that match those words and phrases in the job description.”
Furthermore, Sherbini recommends looking at jobs even if they don’t seem to be a perfect fit.
“Let’s say you’re interested in the field of finance, but you don’t get the job that you initially wanted,” she said. “Maybe you can start as an Executive Assistant for the Chief Financial Officer or for a VP on a finance team at a company.”
2. Narrow your skills gap
Another way to reframe the first weeks into your post-graduate career is to consider the time as an opportunity to narrow your skills gap. A skills gap represents all the details on your dream job description you haven’t acquired yet.
“Let’s say you have a pretty good idea of what job or career you want to pursue,” Built by Girls Brand and Content Marketing Lead Carol Chan said. “That’s the first step. From there, it’s time to think about what skills you still have to work on to ensure you are a good candidate for that job.”
She mentioned the example of a UX designer role and how the skill might require some more specialized learning. New graduates can at least utilize the internet to look for appropriate courses (if not going for, say, a Master’s degree).
“The internet is your best friend and the sky's really the limit here,” Chan said.
Chain advised to take advantage of the quarantine and even brainstorm projects you can create based on everything from your hobbies to passion points.
“Maybe you there’s a small business in need right now where you can volunteer your time,” she said. “Are they in need of graphic design, web development, whatever it is, there is a good chance for you to add something to your resume while also putting into the practice of some of the skills that you’ve been working on.”
3. Reach out to someone you admire
Sometimes the best method of learning about your career can be scheduling a virtual coffee chat with someone you admire.
“These are your chances to learn about what building your career will look like in the real world,” Built by Girls Content Strategist Maggie Staments said. “Plus, you might make an awesome connection in the industry that you want to go into, but you also might learn that their job is not for you when you hear about the day to day -- that’s super valuable too.”
Staments recommends reaching out to someone via LinkedIn or even email by including a key set of criteria.
“In that email, just include your name, your relevant interests, and a direct ask, which is usually just for a little bit of their time,” Staments explained. “Whether you've had an introduction with that person or you're just emailing cold, head on over to the Built By Girls blog and there's email templates that can help you out.”
Staments added that early career starters should make should to come prepared with questions to guide the conversation.
“Do your research, maybe do some light LinkedIn stalking, give them a Google, write down all your questions, have all the topics that you want to talk about, ready to go,” she said. “And that way you can walk in feeling comfortable and prepared.”
4. Build up your personal advisory board
At a time when help may seem distant, Built by Girls team recommends utilizing the internet to build your very own personal advisory board.
A personal advisory board consists of a complimentary mix of professionals and peers who act as a support system during uncertain times.
“These folks, they’re considered your go to squad, the people you reach out about finances, or basically how to interact with your professional peers,” Built by Girls Executive Directo Tiana Davis said. “These people are critical to helping when you're looking to, let's say, change your career path or even switch and get a new job altogether.
And it isn’t enough to simply reach out to your personal board only when you have a need. You should make a conscious effort to maintain the relationship consistently even if it implies a virtual coffee chat, Davis advised.
“You may consider it to be a little strange but it’s actually never been easier,” Davis said. “If they only have a short period of time, schedule a virtual coffee chat for about 15 minutes or if they can truly invest one of my favorites is BYOL - bring your own lunch.”
She recommends students ask how their connections are doing from time to time, and if they need help with anything to remain as direct as possible.
“But regardless, when you're reaching out, whether it be to ask for a favor or because you want to just touch base, make sure that you're direct in your ask,” said Davis. “I can't tell you the number of times folks have reached out to me via LinkedIn, and it's clear that they want something from me, but they don't really give me much direction
5. Be creative and bold
The Built By Girls team highlighted the benefit of being bold and facing adversity.
“Be creative about how you can spend this time,” Chan said. “So has there been an idea that you've been brewing in the back of your mind, but haven't really committed to? Or is there a nonprofit that you want to volunteer with, but also never really made it to the top of your to do list?”
“Remember,” she added, “having a summer internship does not define your future. Your career is going to be a lifelong journey — and this is just one milestone for that.”
Read more information and tips in our Advice section