Do the extra credit: Step 1. You look on a company's website or a job search site and find a job you love. Step 2. You apply directly from that site. Step 3. Avoid step two at all costs. If you apply in this manner your application will get lost in the "black hole" of job applications. You'll be applying against thousands of other job searchers. Instead, do a little extra work for a bigger pay off. Scour the internet and LinkedIn for the hiring manager's name and address. Not only will a real live human be on the other end of that email, but they'll be about to see you have great perseverance and investigative skills.
A few weeks ago I was asked to be on a panel at Fairfield University to discuss my experiences in the media business. My fellow panelists held a variety of careers within the media world. They included an accomplished journalist formerly from ABC News now working as the managing editor for TheShriverReport.org, a newspaper reporter with 30 years' experience, a book publishing editor, a video producer and a video designer.
Before the discussion began the event organizer and fellow panelist, Audra Martin (video producer for Group SJR), informed us to be as honest as possible and not sugarcoat the reality of the job market or our collective foray into the media business. Audra also pointed out that over half these students will graduate from college without ever having an internship. The panel was insightful and the students asked incredible questions. I've highlighted the three main takeaways.
Don't dismiss internships
Internships have been getting a bad rap the last few years due to some companies being sued and some deleting their programs all together – like the media magnate Hearst. You can take a class, read countless books, ace every exam on a topic but that doesn't at all compare to experiencing it firsthand. Internships are very valuable, every student no matter if you're hoping to work in sales, finance, tech or media should have at least one under their belt. It's a daunting process to narrow down an internship opportunity – especially if your college career department doesn't have the right contacts.
Don't be afraid to look up opportunities on your own by tapping into your network. Reach out to former professors, family and friends and previous employers. You never know whose cousin's college roommate might be able to score you a great experience. A great untapped asset is connecting with former alumni forinformational interviews. You can get a list of contacts from your career department or by doing a search on LinkedIn. If you also decide to apply for internships directly on an employer's website make sure you reach out directly with the hiring manager as well. Don't trust that sending your resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org will get you noticed. Instead, utilize your research skills and find out who the hiring manager and follow up with them directly.
Be persistent with a purpose
"How many emails and calls is too many," asked several student who were eager to get noticed but didn't want to become an annoyance to a potential employer. The panel was in agreement that in order to get noticed you need to be a squeaky wheel. On an average day we collectively agreed that we receive 100-200 emails. It's very easy for something to get lost which is why it's essential to follow up. When you are following up always respond with something that , "I read this article on TechCrunch and thought you would find it interesting" or "I attended this marketing lecture and it made me think about what we discussed in our meeting."
The other point to consider is that when you are reaching out to someone in hopes of a meeting, job, or information you need to have done your homework and create an "in". Study the person you are contacting. Read their LinkedIn Profile, study their company and career history. Use this information to your advantage over email, "I read your article on PR trends and learned a ton" or "I see you work on the Today Show – I'm such a huge fan. I especially love the Orange Room." This is your in. Chances are the people you are emailing know why you are contacting them but going the extra mile and doing your homework turns your "ask" into a relationship.
No one has their dream career at 21
When you graduate it's very easy to 'assume' that you'll be starting at the top (or close to it) – especially when you look at successful millennials like Mark Zuckerberg, Lena Dunham and Instagram founder Kevin Systrom. Except that is very rarely the case. Most people start at entry-level positions -– and that's OK. Learning the ropes, watching from the sidelines and getting in tune with office dynamics will help shape your professional persona. Chances are you'll be interviewing and submitting dozens of resumes after graduation. The job market is constantly growing, changing and adapting.
There are so many different types of jobs out there. I've seen countless people pass up great opportunities because it wasn't their 'dream job.' That dream gig might never find you. If you get a job offer that sounds great and interests you – take it. The time to experiment is in your 20s. Take risks, learn new things and be open to new experiences. You don't have a family to support or mortgage payments to worry about. Take that hourly-wage earning, 3-month production assistant job on the latest Scorsese film.
College and high school graduations are in full swing. Alongside the pomp and circumstance come the highly celebrated commencement speeches from politicians, business executives and celebrities. Here's a sweep of celebrity career tips from 2014 commencement exercises.
"It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia' actor Charlie Day spoke to the graduates of his alma mater, Merrimack College.
"Create a job instead of waiting for it to happen. Don't wait for your break, make your break. Make it happen for yourself."
"I don't think you should do what makes you happy. I think you should do what makes you great. What's uncomfortable and scary, what pays off in the long run. Be willing to fail. Let yourself fail. Without this struggle – what is success anyway?"
"You are going to change the world in big ways and in small."
And adding a bit of humor, "I sound like a 10-year-old smoker."
The talk show host addressed the class of 2014 at American University.
"You are entering the professional world at a time of breathtaking change and uncertainty. But I am very excited about the future. And I think you should be too."
"A solid work ethic, a lot of initiative, a positive attitude will serve you well."
"I have faced setbacks and disappointments and sorry to say so will all of you. You may take some wrong turns and lose your way but you'll get back on track."
"Do what's best and what works for you. Only you know when to lean in, lean out or lie down."
Elin Nordegren (Tiger Woods' ex-wife), was chosen as the Outstanding Senior of Rollins College earning a 3.96 GPA.
"When I entered my student adviser office in the fall of 2005 I was 25 years old and had just recently moved to America. I was married without children. Today, nine years later, I'm a proud American and I have two beautiful children...but I'm no longer married."
"Education is the one thing that no one can take away from you."
"Every single day we each have an opportunity to keep on learning and to infuse the learning with meaning. I believe we each have the responsibility to pass on the importance of education to our children and future generations."
Sean Combs formally known as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy and Diddy addressed the students of Howard University. He dropped out of Howard to pursue his music career.
"I can't wait to live in the world you are about to create...I can't wait to watch you change the world."
" I want you to remember three things, Number one, I want you to never be afraid to make a decision. Be decisive. Don't be afraid to fail. Be fearless. Number 2, I want you to remember the power of you. You are the most powerful generation this world has ever seen. Number three, Can't stop, won't stop."
"I don't want you to dream. I want you to do. Close your eyes and dream. Then open your eyes and see."
Sandra Bullock spoke at Warren Easton Charter High School in New Orleans. Bullock donated to the school after it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
"Stop worrying so much. Stop being afraid of the unknown."
"Raise the bar higher."
"Nothing is a failure; it's just not supposed to work out that way. Something better is supposed to come along."
Janet Yellin, Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, spoke at NYU's 2014 commencement.
"Listening to others, especially those with whom we disagree, tests our own ideas and beliefs. It forces us to recognize, with humility, that we don't have a monopoly on the truth."
"There is an unfortunate myth that success is mainly determined by something called "ability." But research indicates that our best measures of these qualities are unreliable predictors of performance in academics or employment. Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth says that what really matters is a quality she calls "grit"--an abiding commitment to work hard toward long-range goals and to persevere through the setbacks that come along the way."
"Serious decisions about life surely lie ahead, but take the time to savor the joys, large and small that come along the way. Share those joys with others, and share a laugh when you can."
> Watch this awesome Navy SEAL Commander address the University of Texas, Austin