I recently took up two mentees from a student organization, and part of the Get To Know Each Other phase, we talked a lot about what they know and what they would like to know, about the “outside world”, the corporate environment.
We’re talking about a reputed, large, well structured and well organized student association; with clear processes and frameworks, and a high entrepreneurial spirit. Their members meet often with managers from the corporate world. And yet, when asked about their careers, many have no clue what they want to do or how to get it.
The Myth of Endless Possibilities
The late (graduating 1992-2000) Gen X-ers in my country were faced with a world of sudden freedom and endless possibilities. Many of them became entrepreneurs and lead today’s successful local enterprises.
The wave that came after them, to which I also belong, entered the world of clear career planning, corporate work and multinationals. We learned fast, adapted, and changed rapidly what we didn’t like. We were not afraid to “job-hop” for more money, or to work late hours because we knew that’s what’s required in order to climb the career ladder.
Today’s young graduates are faced with (perhaps) too many possibilities, and yet, limited availability. The education system hasn’t changed, but the job market has. There are internships, apprenticeships, exchange programs, studies abroad, volunteer programs abroad or in-country. There are training programs, business schools, student events, and summer camps.
And at the end of it all, still, almost impossible to find a good job when there’s 10+ applicants on one spot (I take this from last year’s statistics of the Coca-Cola Management Trainee Program, where, in true honesty, the numbers were even higher). Companies afford to cherrypick the “creme de la creme” of young graduates, and, let’s face it, the ones who are really dedicated, know what they want and have worked already to prove it.
So, what’s there to be done?
First and foremost, don’t worry too much about your degree. If you find your passion lies outside of what you learned at school, don’t be afraid to pursue it.
Grace Richards, who kindly pointed me to this article about what to do to get work after college, writes that the most important things to do if you’re having regrets about your degree are:
- get an internship or a job completely unrelated to your degree to help you learn new things and broaden your profile
- network, and get to know people outside your area of study
- consider online studies or degrees that complete your profile in the area of interest.
Second, don’t be afraid to take steps that show you’re driven to get into another field. Take classes; meet new people; go to clubs or meetings where they teach in that field of interest; research online; read; get into voluntary work that’s connected to that area. And put it all in your resume or CV.
I was pleased to meet a few young students last week at a Learning Event, who knew what they wanted. Two of them were studying Finance and wanted to get into HR. They were worried that companies might disconsider them because of the major change in their field.
On the contrary, I said. Two such different areas of interest make an outstanding candidate profile. As long as you show that you didn’t just decide “let’s skip Finance and say we want to do HR” but also have some work to prove it, it’s not a temporary fling. Secondary, it will always allow you to make a change of career; to have another option open. Maybe you’ll realize in 5 years, that HR is not for you; and then you’ll be able to turn to Consulting or even take up an MBA.
In the end, knowing what you want, at least in the short run (next 1-3 years) is critical to building the first steps of a career. Many young graduates see their decisions as life long, and it can be scary. But as long as you see each step as a self standing experience, it becomes an interesting and enjoyable journey.
I’m excited to host another guest post!
This is a post from Richard Munn of www.how2become.com, a UK website specializing in tips for individuals targeting public sector careers. Thank you Richard for writing this article for LifeToolkit.net!
As a former recruiter and of course also as a candidate, I can relate to the experience of going to a job interview and then waiting…and waiting…and sometimes getting a two line email, or a brief phonecall, or even sometimes nothing. So this blog post is about how you can get a better hint even during the interview, and then how you can maximize your chances to receive a more detailed feedback.
How To Get Quality Feedback After Your Job Interview
An interview can be a testing experience, no matter how many times you may have been through one before. How you perform in an interview usually has a huge impact on your success or failure in getting hired. If you do impress enough in an interview, this usually reflects in you getting hired, or at least called for the next stage of the recruitment process. On the other hand, even if you fail to make the right impression, the positive side is that every interview you go through is therefore potentially a way to hone your skills and become better in giving interviews.
It is natural to feel curious about how your performance was perceived by the interviewers and getting their perspective on your strengths and weaknesses can be invaluable in this quest for performing better the next time. The only time you get a chance to ask interviewers for their feedback is right after the interview, but this also happens to be the worst time to ask for it, and you’re unlikely to get any useful answers at this time anyway! Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get information beyond a simple yes or no from recruiters. It is not unusual for companies to simply send an email with no further information about why your application was rejected.
The first step to getting feedback about your interview is to be observant about things the interviewers say and do. Theirverbal and non-verbal mannerisms might be indicative of the way your interview has gone. Some signs that the interview may not be going well are if the interviewer appears distracted and makes/answers phone calls during the interview, or if the interview is very brief. While this is by no means as helpful and even as accurate as getting direct feedback, it might help you understand how people are reacting to your interview performance.
If you have applied through an agent or external recruiter, you may be able to get feedback and information about your interview from the recruiter, rather than the interviewer. Recruiters are often in a position to ask for individual feedback, whereas individual candidates aren’t, at least not right after the interview. Request feedback from your recruitment agency and they may well be able to get more information for you.
Asking for feedback right after an interview is like a strict no no. No HR professional or recruiter is going to tell you exactly what they thought about your interview right after. However, this is not to say that you can never request personal feedback from a company. Many companies have a clear recruitment process, with a set number of days before they can let you know if you have been hired. Many interviewers also tell you when you can expect to hear from them during an interview.
If you do not hear from the company after the prescribed period, it may be a good idea to email your interviewer and request more information or feedback about why your application was rejected. In fact, sending a courtesy thank you email after an interview is always a good idea, as it helps you establish a personal connection, albeit in a small way, with the HR team and with the company. Doing this will make it easier for you to request feedback should you fail to hear from a company after your interview.
About Richard McMunn: Richard is the author of this article and founder of How2become.com, the UK’s leading training and recruitment website for public sector careers. The focus is on providing applicants with the knowledge they need to prepare for and pass selection processes for careers in the police, fire service and ambulance service . The website currently offers over 150 different titles. You can also find How2become on Facebook.Read More
I helped someone a few days ago prepare for a big meeting with a bunch of Gen Yers, and made a Mind Map about what Gen Yers want from a leader. I remembered the time I recruited almost all of the Procurement Center for EMEA at P&G, about 200 young, charismatic, exceptional, but loud and self-centered Gen Yers. Then I remembered how I myself was (and in some ways still am) pretty much all of those things.
At 70 million count, Gen Y are the largest workforce population shaping the organization cultures around the world. They (or should I say “We”) proved to be a distinct population, with clear mindset, preferences and consumer behaviors. No wonder studies are being conducted, researches done, workshops held, and the knowledge database is growing every day. Everyone is paying attention to what these young people want. They are called “the future”.
But what do Gen Yers really want?
As a Gen Yer myself, I vouch for this: we crave recognition, pats on the back and admiration. Just look at how we count our followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook to measure popularity.
At work, recognition is a measure just as good as any other to give us value. Whether in cash, public applause, celebrations or 1:1 praise, recognition is extremely important for a young professional who’s just looking to get noticed.
Gen Y’ers are extremely independent – they are able to take their backpacks and roam the world alone. They can do anything with just the touch of a button (as long as there’s wifi!) BUT they will love the thought of sharing this with other people.
Although we never like to be “put in a box” – it questions our individual uniqueness – we love clubs, cliques, groups. Just look at (again!) Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest. Gen Yers prefer to gather with other people similar to them (never say JUST like them!) to work on topics of common interest. Put them on a task force. Give them a club to run. They will thrive.
As you might have noticed, we love novelty. We’re good at getting on top of new technology, really fast.
However, we’re also pretty good at our own personal learning. We love feedback; we need to be told what we’ve done right and wrong, how can we improve and how to do that (that’s why we read blog posts such as this one ).
If you check what Gen Yers look when they choose a job, Training or Career Changes are at the top of the list.
As a matter of fact, we’re so focused on learning new things, fast, that sometimes we don’t allow the new learning to sit and integrate with our internal system. We escalade the ladder, and without looking at the view from the top, we move to the next mountain; which then allows for only a superficial scratch at the surface of real learning experiences.
On this note and insisting on the paradox aspect, Alexandra Campbell of Collegeathome.com sent me an interesting infographic about the unpreparedness of students for college.
Don’t you think that it’s quite intrigueing, that students who’re able tograsp technology and novelty quite fast, miss out on their most thorough academic experience?
Looking at my country’s situation, where 90% of young people have University degrees (and where the public system is better than the private one), I can say only that perhaps, Gen Yers prefer another type of learning than the academic one: the pragmatic one, the hands-on approach; the “let’s backpack through the world and get real life experiences instead of reading about them” approach.
And maybe when the schooling system will be run by Gen Yers, it will adapt to its inhabitants, not the other way around.
To me, flexibility is yet another paradox – Gen Yers clearly put a lot of emphasis on personal life and balance with work; they want to be able to work from home and build their career around their life, not the other way around.
However, they want stability as well. Even if adaptable, Gen Yers prefer to know how things are going; they want to know what to expect, and if possible, they want to be able to have less complications.
Penelope Trunk, who wrote a few brilliant articles about Gen Y and who is quite outspoken (read this, this and this) also believes that Gen Yers are quite conservative, if you look at their career preferences.
Now on leadership.
Gen Yers have a lot of personal leadership – they get organized, shift their lives, learn a lot about themselves and others, question the status quo and are able to change (well, faster than the older generations anyway).
But they like to be lead.
They love to be lead by someone who inspires them (Steve Jobs, anyone?)
And they go over the top when the inspiring leader is also a human with flaws, who admits them openly. Because Gen Yers are also empathetic and (sometimes) quite spiritual, and they appreciate the power of vulnerability, that makes them feel connected with other human beings. And they will jump aboard on a mission with someone who isn’t afraid to show himself as he is, but whose vision sets him apart.
So in the end, if you’re part of Gen Y, what do you think? Does it fit into who you are? How would you like to be lead?Read More
Hello dears, I hope you’re not intimidated by the large snow flakes drifting outside.
As a matter of fact, last week I’ve been spying on the early morning sky, driving to work. Unfortunately as I get both my hands on the wheel, I wasn’t able to shoot the beautiful rosy clouds (very Vanilla Sky-like), something like this:
Anyway, the early start of spring usually inspires me to get in touch with my artistic side. I paint, draw, sketch and get a lot of ideas.
In planning & work in progress – the lower part of this dress (the skirt):
Also, making this punch (for Valentine’s day or earlier). I never actually liked Valentine’s day – it made me sort of obliged to do something or buy a gift only because of a date in the calendar. I know it sounds like a cliche, but shouldn’t couples celebrate their love every day, instead of once per year?
A cute movie from a friend, which promises to be big on Oscars (but kind of reminds me of this short film).
Speaking of Oscars, what do you think about the nominations list?
I can’t believe the Silver Linings Playbook is nominated as Best Film, since I rarely saw such a poor adaptation of a (reasonably) good book. Basically the director kept the names of the characters…and that’s about it. Ditto for Bradley Cooper, who, although cute, doesn’t do a remotely believable role of a messed up man.
However, I was pleasantly impressed by Argo – although you have to admit that even if Ben Affleck did a tremendous job of re-creating the setting and choosing all actors to look like their real counterparts, he forgot a minor detail..the part he plays himself. Check out this picture of the real Tony Mendez.
Anyway, enough of movie rants – I can’t wait to put myself up todate for the Oscars: watching Flight, (maybe) Lincoln, Les Miserables (I hope I can bear 3 hours of continuous singing), Django Unchained, and, of course, Life of Pi (where 30 pages of religious epiphanies at the beginning of the book turns into the major plot of the movie, hm, perhaps another disappointing rendering of a good book?) .
How’s your weekend looking?
I haven’t posted in a while because lately, the whole purpose of this blog – organizing your life, having a clue about where you want to be – seemed to fade for me.
I realized that, at this moment, this perspective might be doing me more harm than good. Perhaps, for me, it’s time to organize less, and take up whatever happens.
It seems most of my life I’ve been making conscious, well-documented, well-reasoned choices for myself. I’ve been judging carefully how to act and how to position myself, and this judgment, somehow, permeated (or came from) the deeper crevices of my mind. Which means, I wasn’t only judging facts. I was also judging myself.
I’m not really sure where to go from here. It’s not simple to say “ok, now I’m going to stop being a control freak and just let go“. Because the tension will not disappear just by imagining it or willing it away.
Maybe it does, for some people…but for me, it will take more.
It’s a journey, and right now, I think I’m only at the start line.
Therefore, in the past few days I:
- expressed my point of view and asked for arguments from the other. This is especially difficult as, for someone who’s judging and reprimanding herself, it’s easier to shut up and fantasize about the other person realizing the terrible mistake they’ve done…and then being disappointed when it doesn’t happen. This type of person normally would go from disappointment to anger, and then point out bitterly to the other person how hurt they are.
- did not get annoyed at myself when something did not get done. I didn’t reschedule. It will be done when its time comes.
Most importantly, I started looking at other people differently. I realized that most of us have inner fights, and we tend to project on others the issues we have ourselves.
The harsher we behave on the outside, the more cruel we are to ourselves on the inside.
And most times, we’re not even aware – of either of these two bitter games.Read More
Hello my dears and Happy Holidays!
As I write this, my mother is in the kitchen preparing the turkey for the Christmas dinner, there’s carols on the radio and around town there are some people carrying bags with supplies to cook later today.
It’s easy to get stressed or anxious about the Christmas cookies, burning the special steak or the traditional “sarmale” not coming out the right way.
For me, this Holiday season is particularly strange, since I inhabit two houses, at about 15 miles apart from each other. One is my mother’s, the other one is my mother-in-law’s, where my husband (and our cat) stay for the Holidays. I know, it’s a bit strange, but we’ve gotten used to “ticking both boxes” each time we come to visit.
So as I was driving this morning back to my mother’s house, to help with the cooking (which I’m obviously NOT doing, since I’m writing this blog post instead), I made a few resolutions for these days.
1. Stop complicating things and take them as they are. At least for a few days.
My friends and family know that I sometimes tend to overanalyze and overcomplicate things. That leads to overthinking and overworrying. Not something you’d like in a
peaceful resting celebrating time of year, right?
So, instead of thinking – yet again – how to make things work for both families, how to come together without the awkward “polite visits”..I try to just let things unfold, and we’ll see where they take us.
2. Build good karma.
A dear friend of mine said to me once, that when you give extra tips at a restaurant, you shouldn’t give it with a closed heart, but think, as you give it, that those money will come back to you.
That’s a (materialistic) way of how I look at karma.
And these days, I think even more, that maybe we’ve forgotten the whole purpose of holidays – which is, to be kind to one another. 2000+ years have passed since we’ve been taught the simplest form of peace (“love thy neighbor”) but we haven’t internalized it.
It’s not about gifts, it’s about showing kindness and doing the better thing.
3. Be still.
This is probably going to be the most difficult one, as each day is packed with visits, cooking, eating, more visits, driving back to Bucharest, and then driving again to the NY party location
I noticed that in stillness (especially the one before falling asleep) comes inspiration.
And besides, in such a hectic time, it would be a pity not to find a few moments every day to stop and enjoy.
How to do that:
- find small things to notice – like the lights on the Christmas tree; the snowflakes falling; a nice carol on the radio; a moment when you and a dear one look at each other and know what the other one thinks of
- capture the moment: in a scent (I have a perfume I received many years ago for Christmas and still associate it with winter and a special feeling of “I just received a gift, yay!!”), a drink (like the wonderful cocktail we had yesterday evening, with vodka, cinnamon and orange juice from our dear friends – I have to ask for the recipe ), a special food (like the fruit cake my mother and I make every year ONLY for Christmas)…
So enjoy this Holiday season, and give the good vibes further on
In case you feel rushed, stressed, pressed, pulled from side to side…take a deep breath. And keep hope that it will turn out just fine.
You know that saying
Everything will be ok in the end.
If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.
According to Stephen Covey, one of the main things happier people do is keep optimistic. Keep a hope in the better end.
So, remember you WILL get out of this horrible traffic. You WILL buy those beautiful gifts. You WILL get home and take a long hot bath. You WILL meet the people you love and you’ll laugh and have a drink and be merry.
Why make the time up to the Holidays so hectic, that in the end you won’t be able to enjoy it?
Instead, keep the end in mind as a beautiful sparkling finish line, one that will make the run up to it worthwhile.
Even if it means curling home with your cat and browsing the Internet, like me
Now there’s something to look forward to this Christmas.Read More