6 Tips to Avoid the After Graduation Blues

I sat there nervously applying for positions I had no chance of receiving and unsure of where my future was taking me. The only jobs available were for completely unrelated fields with experience requirements that I could only dream of fulfilling. College had just ended and I was feeling down on my degree and upset that my résumé was devoid of relevant Public Relations or Social Media experience.  Living at home with my parents was the new normal and I was pushing myself into a corner that there was no way out of.

For months, I sat moping in the corner as my existence became unemployment. The expected job at the end of the tunnel was a mirage that soon faded as yet another interview came to a dead-end. I mistakenly convinced myself that it was a numbers game and that I would eventually get there. Then one day it clicked… you needed to create your own luck.

My first months out of school gave me the opportunity to learn that I wasn’t entitled to a position simply because I forked over money to an institution and helped me learn the following:

1. “Wake up” early because the early bird gets the worm

Whether you’re commuting for two hours into the city or taking a ten minute bike-ride to work, wake up early. I don’t mean literally the act of waking up (heck, most of us are barely awake as we make our commute to work), but focus on waking up your brain.

It may be tempting to check your email as you first roll over in the morning but don’t. Your productivity may be crushed as you weed through emails and overwhelm yourself before beginning the day. Instead, I run through news headlines and listen to books on tape before walking into the office.

2. An internship isn’t the end of the world (if it’s in your field)

I understand that there is a debate going on on whether interns should be paid (that will probably be a later post), but internships still provide you with something very serious – experience in your field. As someone that has had completely unrelated internships and jobs  before moving into my career field, having that 6 months – 1 year of experience makes a difference. While being an excellent interviewer is important, if you don’t have basic qualifications for a position you’ll never receive a call.

3. Treat your body and mind well

Working out releases endorphins, which limits the depression of the daily monotony of work and life. During the week get sleep and exercise and watch it increase your likelihood of success. Next, eat well. Sure, picking up a Lean Cuisine is easy and looks delicious with those incredible photos adorning the frozen-meal box, but don’t be strayed! Lean Cuisine is neither good for you or advisable if you’re hoping to treat your body well. They may be cheap, but splurge a little and enjoy something fresh or heat up some homemade leftovers. For my next step, I think I’ll take a page from some successful CEOs and pick up yoga.

4. Get uncomfortable and enjoy it

I’m a firm believer that the best things in life make you a little uncomfortable. You don’t simply ask someone out on a date that you feel comfortable dating, that leads to failure. Instead, you take a chance. The same goes for business or the workplace. If you’re not willing to take a chance and make yourself sweat a little, others will notice…negatively. People are rarely attracted to safe. Instead, they return to safe when they fall short of achieving their uncomfortable goal – and that’s totally cool! But if you don’t take the chance, you’ll never know what could have been.

I really enjoyed this piece on becoming charismatic from Business Insider, naturally, getting uncomfortable is part of it.

5. Network your socks off

What’s the best way to get extremely uncomfortable? Treat every opportunity as a chance to network, or as I like to think of it, relationship building. Whether at a networking event or your local gym, treat it as a chance to meet someone new. I often fall into the “I’m too cool to meet someone” mentality, particularly when I’m at the gym. What’s a great way around it? Take off the headphones and say hi.

Nervous about meeting people? Everyone is… but the people that get uncomfortable prevail.

6. Always carry business cards, even you tech savvy Gen Y’er

For unexpected networking situations,  always have business cards available for distribution and note taking. Naysayers believe that business cards don’t work anymore (they still do) as US society is moving away from paper to electronic, but I ask how can you communicate with those that believe in the strength of business cards? “I don’t believe in business cards” is the wrong answer. Adjust your style. Whether you’re a physicist, PR professional, or small business owner, do what you can to meet new people.

So what should you take from this? Learn, get uncomfortable, take risks, and get yourself out there to meet the people that matter. Stop sitting around and make moves, because if you don’t someone else will.


Get social for a job

Occasionally, I find an intuitive post on hiring that really blows my mind. With a PR client that’s in the hiring space, I find myself consistently reading and tweeting with those that write on recruitment for new grads and seasoned veterans.

Yesterday, I read a piece on BostInno “Congratulations Graduate! Also, 9 Reasons Why I Will Never Hire You” by Mark O’Toole and it actually caused me to do a double-take. The piece outlines thinks that I wish I was told as an aspiring PR guy and that I will now tell my future interns.

What left the largest impression was not the dress to impress regardless idea, rather, it was “you don’t get social media (but think you do).” And this can be a big problem for anyone now coming out of school. We think that because we grew up on Myspace and Facebook that we’re naturally experts in social media. A 30 second dissection of someone’s social network profiles would unearth the lack of actual social-ness behind their networks. If you’re not ruling Twitter or connected on LinkedIn with your friend, his/her parents, and your entire graduating class, you’re starting at a major disadvantage.

Sadly, to be truly good at social media, you need to understand that you’re not any good at social media. By the time you truly become an advanced user, another network has come out or your head becomes too big and you begin neglecting what actually got you there. Maybe you learn the best way to market using Instagram, but in the time you spent mastering that skill, a new update came out, or worse, an even better social network has taken it’s place.

Unprepared for PR in a Social World?

College rocked, don’t get me wrong.  I studied hard, did well in school, and developed lasting relationships. I traveled abroad to Morocco, studied difficult material, and learned of concepts that challenged the mind. As I walked from graduation, I had a sense that I was the most marketable person ever! I had a Communication degree with concentrations in Public Relations and Communication Studies from Marist College. I was ready to sit back and watch companies come crawling to my doorstep.

Six months later, that hasn’t happened. I’ve previously blogged about my feelings on why HR should recruit in a similar manner to sport recruiters, however, this goes much more in depth.

Colleges and Universities must change their educational curriculum to promote social media

I have a traditional Public Relations example for you.

How, should a company react in the aftermath of a catastrophe, such as the BP Oil Spill?

In a traditional situation, a PR specialist would state, go directly to the press and come clean with it. Let the press know that you are going to clean up the spill, and, if anything, make the water Continue reading