Keep Your Career Options Open

Author: Emmanuel Pepis, Career Advice

Many of us have been there before. You go to college, you have a desired field you want to study, you graduate, then comes maybe the hardest part: a career track that can resemble a long, winding, and sometimes frustrating road with its share of twists and turns.

It’s great to have goals that you strive for, and you should never lose sight of what you ultimately want in your career path. At the same time, it never hurts to have balance and allow things to fall into place. The results could be pleasantly surprising. And, on top of all that, all are learning experiences in their own forms as well. 


Career paths generally are never linear

There are times we’ll be frustrated by the lack of open jobs. There will be setbacks, and there will be moments where we can take ourselves in a slightly different direction. By making yourself as diverse as possible, you have the potential for many open doors that you may not have thought of when you got your degree. Plus, taking jobs and doing things that you never thought you’d learn or need to know, shows us how much untapped potential is within us. 

Take advantage of opportunities
Of course its important to strive for what you want. You have the power to be in charge of yourself and where you want to be. But you must allow yourself the freedom to become more versatile in your field if and when the opportunity presents itself. No experience is bad experience and it could lead to something you may not have thought was possible. If an opportunities arises, even if it’s not one that you thought you’d ever take, try it out, and see what happens.

Utilize your skill set
Part of the beauty of each person is we all have different skill sets, and everyone should use that to their advantage. Your strengths are what help let you stand out, and most of the time they tend to be what you enjoy the most doing. Use them. If you’re using your skills in your present work, while always keeping your goals in mind, you’re on the right path to getting where you one day want to be. Or, it could lead you to something even better that you may have not thought of before.  

Always remember to network
Networking can truly happen anywhere. Even if you’re not actively looking to change jobs or careers, don’t be afraid to talk to people about what you do or want to do in the future. Talk to your family, friends, current colleagues, former colleagues, and even people you may not know personally. You never know what opportunity will arise, even if it’s one you didn’t know you were looking for.

Don’t think of any job as beneath you
Every job is a learning experience. From bagging groceries to customer service jobs, whatever the position may be, you’re learning skills that you can then translate into another job. Having skills and experiences in other fields, or from jobs that weren’t necessarily originally on your radar, gives you a much broader outlook, and can help your work ethic by approaching things from a different, unbiased perspective.

What You’ll Learn When Working in Sports

Author: Emmanuel Pepis, Career Advice

So, you want to work in sports?

I have been fortunate to work in sports since I was in high school. I was put in touch with a well-known sports personality in the New Orleans area and 13 years later, I feel like I could hum the Johnny Cash song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Not quite from a travel standpoint, but I have taken a lot of different jobs within the sports field over that time — where I’ve learned a lot of different things.

Get connected
This is the most obvious, yet most vital first step. Without connections, it’s going to be very hard to land a job. That’s true in many fields, but the sports field is among the top of the list in that department. When prospective employers look at references, they’re not just going to look at what you’ve done. They’re going to look at your connections.

When you’re starting out, say yes to everything possible
No experience is bad experience. When you work in sports, you’re going to most likely wind up doing things you never thought. For me, I never thought I would work in production for a radio station, but I did. It diversified my skill set and I’m glad to say I have those basic skills on the technological side.

Whatever path you choose, it’s going to be a long road to get there. At the beginning, it won’t be a particularly lucrative road. This is the toughest part especially for those either in or fresh out of college. If you keep an open mind, you’re going to learn a lot more than you ever dreamed. Also, you’re going to wind up applying those talents you do have in forums you may not have thought about.

Be relentless
Again, this is a statement magnified by the field discussed. There are many thousands of students who have similar goals. It’s one of the most competitive fields you can imagine, but your connections and a diverse skill set are a great start.

However, you have to be aggressive. Keep putting your resume out. Keep persisting about job opportunities even if they’re not open at the time. Take every chance you can to show any potential employer your ‘never quit’ attitude. That eventually gets noticed and can go a long way to you moving up in your desired career path.

Set your goals, but allow some flexibility
You may enter the sports field thinking you’re going to be one thing. That’s great to aspire to. For instance when I was a teenager, I wanted to be an anchor on ESPN. I shifted that goal to wanting to become a broadcaster since I started picking up a lot of experience in that department.

The point of all this is to say that your goals have a good chance of changing. Maybe it won’t be drastically, but you’ll discover a job that changes your perception. Let it happen if that’s the case. Aspire to what you want, but allow yourself the freedom and flexibility as you travel down this road.

I’ve been lucky enough to stay involved in sports in some capacity for over a decade. If you choose this path, it’s going to be a grind. There are going to be tough days as there are in any profession. However, if you stay connected, be persistent, and gain versatility then you’ll give yourself the best chance of succeeding.

How Traveling Helped My Resume (and My Life)

Author: Gauri Bhatia, Career Advice

Well, hello there, fellow wanderlusting millennials! In case you didn’t already know, I have visited over 70 countries in my 20-something years on this planet. So now I am going to help you understand how those experiences have helped me enhance my life and my resume.

Potential employers love to see that you have an appreciation for and an understanding of other countries, especially if they are countries in which the company operates. For example, I have worked for several months in Italy, the United Kingdom and India, and these experiences have impressed graduate school acceptance boards, professors, advisors, professional organizations and potential employers.

Another way they have helped is that they emphasize my expanded worldview. This can apply to travel within the United States, not only abroad. By experiencing other places and other cultures, your own understanding of self is improved, and that really impresses potential employers.

slovania

Perhaps the biggest way traveling has impacted my resume is that it has inspired me to learn new languages and develop new skills. By traveling to different places with vastly different economies and systems of governance: I have discovered my passions for economics, international relations, and philanthropy.

The last way that traveling helped my resume is by enabling me to have an increased level of empathy for the rest of the world, and that is reflected through my charitable experiences (which employers really value). When I was younger, I got the chance to visit Egypt, which was truly a life-changing experience. Because I was able to see Egypt before the War in the Middle East, I had a great fondness for the region.

When I see news about the destruction and chaos currently going on in the Middle East (particularly in Syria, currently), it inspires me to try to give back in whichever ways I can. Those pursuits have impressed a multitude of important people, including: graduate school acceptance boards, professors, advisers, professional organizations and potential employers.

I understand it can sometimes be hard to actually travel and gain those experiences firsthand. But I think having a better understanding about the world gives your resume that “something extra” that leads to the next great thing in your life. To that point, I say even “armchair travel” through a good book, a documentary, a new movie, or even just the Internet can help that resume really shine!

What Millennials Can Learn From Customer Service Jobs

Author: Chelsea Mulligan, Career Advice

At the young age of 16, I was hired part-time as a stylist’s assistant at one of the local salons in my neighborhood. I worked in a beautiful area and ended up staying with the salon for over five years. I loved the people I worked with and appreciated what I learned while working with and for the public. I can now empathize with many employees in similar professions.

As millennials, we hear all the time that we come off as entitled, impatient or whatever Urban Dictionary wants to classify us as. Over the years, I’ve defended many professions based around customer service and I truly think it’s important for young adults and teenagers to remember how valuable “people skills” are — they go a long way in many career options. Here are a few examples:

Eye contact, people!
First and foremost, make eye contact with the person you are speaking to. Not only does it come off as rude to not, but it makes the waitress, assistant, cashier, etc., feel unimportant. Yes, everyone gets a sudden phone call, but there is no reason to be scrolling through Instagram or texting while trying to order a meal or make a payment of some sort.

On the employee side, when working for the public, the goal should be to make each and every customer interaction a positive one. Eye contact and simply saying “please” and “thank you” go a lot further than you may think.

Patience is a Virtue
Because we are the generation blessed with Easy Mac and pizza rolls, we tend to forget that other things may take longer than two minutes. Next time you are out to eat, or if your hairstylist, nail lady or bartender seems to be taking longer than expected – here’s some advice: just breathe. Appointments and reservations are made to create structure and a form of time management. It is your duty as a customer and a human to be on time, but it should also be understood that there is a possibility of waiting.

Keep in mind it’s not that the employees don’t want to serve you, it’s just that most businesses like being personable with their customers and conversations can lead to a longer appointment or stay at the table – which is a form of networking! These types of conversations are great practice for any client interaction down the road.

Gratuity, Shmatuity
“She took so long to get me my food, I’m not tipping her,” said all of us. I cannot stress enough how important tips are to people working in customer service. Please always tip. It is very common for businesses to under pay their employees, knowing that they will make money off tips. (If my old boss is reading this, I promise that this does not pertain to you). Every single waitress, hairdresser, “nail lady,” bartender, etc., looks forward to their tips. It could be what’s paying their phone bill or simply to treat themselves to a nice day at the salon or evening at a restaurant.

There are always going to be “bad eggs” in an industry and one that may not be the perfect person to work around people, but do not leave them empty handed. If they are trying, they are working and deserve to be compensated for their service. If you’re an employee working with this type of person, the same type of understanding applies.

This statement excludes the lazy employees who like to sit and hide, rather than help you with your services or assist their fellow employees. 

So to all my fellow millennials, be respectful of all the people trying to help you — whether as a customer or in your career journey. Smile and be polite. Look into someone’s eyes while saying “thank you.” Be patient and tip the person who served you that delicious meal or gave you that fabulous new look! And, of course, remember that the skills you acquire in a customer service-based job are applicable to any industry.