Sitting in class each semester, it’s easy to imagine what your dream job looks like. You’re in the midst of learning all sorts of great things about your career options and gaining the knowledge and specialized skills you’ll need to succeed. Unfortunately, enthusiasm can sometimes lead to an inflated view of what to expect after graduation.
In all likelihood, that first job out of college will not bring the glamour or the paycheck of some of the career options talked about in class. Back when I taught public relations courses, I tried to give my students a realistic view of what to expect as entry-level candidates. And, to be honest, most of them were quite disheartened by the types of jobs available and more importantly, the salaries.
Still, finding your dream job with the amazing salary is not impossible – if you’re willing to work your way to it.
Think Career, Not Job
It’s easy to get caught up in the fray of lining up your first job after college. The trick, is to remember that you’re starting a career – which is a lot more than just getting a job. Your career will be the bridge that takes you from one job to the next, growing your industry knowledge and skills. This is a lifelong journey that can’t be rushed or condensed into a single position that you hold. Finding the perfect job is a great goal, but remember it’s just one element of your entire career.
Research and Learn
Once you choose a career, understanding the career paths available is important. Many different career sites and your professors can provide you with this type of information, but the next step is researching companies that hire in your industry. Most companies will list information in their online career centers about the types of jobs available and career path options. At Sodexo, not only do we explain our opportunities, but we even have individualized web sites for various careers.
Network and Ask Questions
If you haven’t already done so, join professional organizations on campus and start to network with professionals in your field. Talk with your adviser. Ask questions about what you should expect in an entry-level position in your field. Learn about the types of assignments that will help advance your knowledge and skills. Find out about internships or if you can volunteer now, while in school, to start preparing yourself for the job that will launch your career.
Build your network online, too. Search LinkedIn for groups related to your industry. Engage in the conversations or ask a question of your own! Maybe you already know what types of jobs interest you – maybe you have questions or doubts. Network with seasoned professionals and learn what it’s really like to work in your career and how others are building their legacy.
Once you understand the opportunities and grow your network, it’s time to build a plan for your future – to execute a plan for your career path. But before you get bogged down in job titles, think about what your dream job looks like.
What tasks will you complete each day? What type of environment will you work in? Start developing an image of what you are seeking – and then build a plan to reach it.
So, if you want to be an executive chef at a college campus, think about what jobs would allow for a natural progression to this position. Can you find an entry level position in campus dining that will help you build the skills and gain the knowledge necessary to become an executive chef?
If you want to be the chief financial officer for a company, think about whether you want to work for a corporation or a nonprofit and align your path accordingly to build the necessary experience. If you want to be a nursing floor supervisor, would it make sense for you gain some experience as a floor nurse, first?
Finding your dream job is more about building a career. It takes time and patience, but with a few decisive moves, you will easily find the environment and the rewards you are seeking. As A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, former president of India, once said, “Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or to the top of your career.”
Trish is a senior communications manager for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a member of the marketing and communications team for Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition department since 2010, Trish is an employment expert who aims to educate job candidates about the hiring process, networking opportunities and the culture of Sodexo. A graduate of Marist College (BA – Psychology) and the University of Southern Mississippi (MS – Public Relations), Trish has never been far from the classroom. As a former adjunct professor for the College of Charleston and professional advisor for the college’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, she enjoys helping students reach for their potential and guide them through the process of preparing for their future careers. A lover of technology and gadgets, cookies, chocolate and baking, Trish spends most of her free time raising two small children and competing with husband to obtain the most stamps in her National Parks Passport book. Feel free to connect with Trish or learn more about careers at Sodexo.