In one of my classes, I had several students express to me that they don’t feel “ready” to find jobs – well, at least, not jobs in the industry we’re studying. I was shocked to learn the level of confidence was so low for so many.
Granted, these students are predominantly first- and second-year college undergrads, but the idea that they are “not ready” was foreign to me.
When it comes to the industry that you are studying, as soon as you’re signed up for classes, you’re ready. Maybe even before that. You see, the idea that you’re someday going to be an expert and know everything, that is the wrong idea. Nobody knows EVERYTHING – especially in an ever-changing area like Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations. The world has been turned on its proverbial ear by social media and the shrinking of the global communications network through the power and connectivity of the internet. These are the things that my first- and second-year students grasp. They know it. They breathe it. They were born with it. The middle-aged man in the executive suite with the window-view of the city, he’s still trying to set up his thumbprint reader on his iPhone 6s – and these kids have an X or Xs-Max, where they just look at it and it leaps into action. They set it up without thinking, and without instructions. Why? Because they were ready.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’re reading this and suddenly feel empowered to conquer the world – great! …but be realistic. I’m not saying that today, this day, right now, regardless of your skill level, you’re going to get handed your dream job – or even handed ANY job – they’re not participation trophies, folks. What I’m saying is simply: Go. Try. Do. Give it a shot.
Find a job with entry level skill expectations and keep learning on the job, and outside the job on your own time (and in school). Still don’t have the confidence to take on the daily-grind of the role you really want? Offer to assist on projects outside your main role. For example, if you’re working at a boutique, offer to mock-up a number of social media posts on seasonal fashion trend suggestions. Find yourself steaming milk at a coffee shop? Write a blog about coffee-related adventures and send it to your boss for use on their blog. Working at a car repair shop? Interview a mechanic or two and create a flyer about how to properly transition your vehicle from summer to winter-ready. Share the design with your manager and tell them they can distribute it if they’d like. Find the opportunities within your workplace.
Or take that job that doesn’t offer ANY opportunity to do what you dream of, but is in the agency, or office, or building of the job you dream of – and network, network, network. Be the best you can be at the job you get – even if the job you get is getting me coffee – and let people know your aspirations. Build a network. Get to know the players in the space. Watch them. Learn from them – even if from a distance.
Be a sponge. Ask well thought out questions. Listen to the answers.
But whatever you do – go and do something. Try. Fail. And try again.
While we’re at it, let’s also remember: you’ve already done things. You were a senior in high school, the big dog, the top of the heap. Don’t go showing off the framed certificate for showing up, but don’t downplay the successes you’ve already achieved. You may need to step back and reframe the success in a way that connects it to your dream, but you’ve already got SOMETHING that you could consider experience. You were a cashier at a grocery store? That’s customer service experience and front line experience dealing with the social nature of customers – knowing, understanding, and answering customer questions. You were a salesperson at a clothing store? They probably had you working on a cash register (new-to-you technology) and answering customer questions about their online store or mobile app – That’s experience working with a brand and their e-commerce presence and online sales platform. You were the kid in the office all summer long that everyone else in the office called on to fix their printer or reconnect their Google Drive account so it sync’ed properly to the rest of their team, you were the one they asked to help them with their mundane phone or computer needs – – because I.T. didn’t have time? Experience. Experience. Experience.
Stop considering yourself a second-class citizen. You DO have SOME experience. Don’t oversell yourself, but if you’re passionate and have the desire – show up, be honest about your level of understanding, and work as hard as you possibly can to be the single best version of yourself. Half the challenge is being willing to try.
You’ll succeed faster and greater – and you’ll get to your dream destination quicker – if you get started on the journey today.
You might not be ready to be the leader, to take on the big project, or grab the reins. You might not be ready to land your dream job. But you’re ready to show up. You’re ready to try. You’re ready to start. Now.