Archive for December, 2009
I expect it won’t take more than an hour. I expected to have a job by the time I graduated. How do you expect me to read your mind?
No matter where you are in life or where you want to go, at times we are all haunted and overwhelmed by expectations. Whether they’re our own, those of our peers or those of our superiors, expectations have an uncanny way of being unrealized.
I grew up with certain expectations for myself, which included being gainfully employed upon graduating from college this May. With the drastic change in the economy and high-speed evolution of communications, I have found many of my expectations have gone unfulfilled. Some days it’s easy to feel like this mean I’ve failed.
After talking with just about any one who would listen, I’ve realized that I am definitely not alone and that I need to change my expectations in this economic climate.
This made me think: what other expectations do I have for myself (as a person, a professional, etc.) are completely off-base and unreachable? Am I setting myself up to fail?
Recently I had to fill out one of those personality indices which asks that you first select all of the adjectives that you feel you are expected to be and then to fill out all of the adjectives that you think you really are.
I realized that I believe that the world expects me to be, well, perfect. I am expected to be patient in my job search but tenacious when applying for opportunities. I am expected to be respectful of my superiors but confident enough to disagree. I am expected to be completely dedicated to my job but well-balanced in life.
Am I alone? Am I pulling these expectations out of thin air? Is it even possible to meet all of these criteria?
When I ask people what they do expect of me, I feel as though I often get very vague answers, which only makes me feel more nervous that I am utterly failing to be what is expected of me.
As a young professional seeking first-time employment in an ever-changing industry, what is expected of me? What do you feel is expected of you?
Last week, Kate Ottavio wrote a letter to herself for the PR Breakfast Club blog. She wrote to her former self about all the lessons she has learned after working for one year in PR. This inspired me to write a letter of my own:
Hey lady! Take a deep breath. You will have your dream job in one short year, and trust me, time will absolutely fly by when you relax. This next year will cause you some stress and frustration, but I promise you it will be worth it.
I know that you won’t believe any one else’s experience completely because they aren’t just like you, so instead I’ll tell you what I would have wanted to know when I was just starting my job search:
- Don’t take it personally. Seriously. I cannot stress this one enough! It’s the roughest job climate in decades, and it will take you time to find the right job. You should know that less than 20 percent of all graduates will have jobs this year. Being an overachiever, I know it’s hard to accept, but you’re not alone and no one will think of less of you.
- Compromise but know your deal-breakers. You’re going to be offered internships and part-time positions that are not ideal. You’re going to be offered positions that are downright insulting to your intelligence. Know the difference, and don’t be afraid to say no. A job may not be perfect, but you should still be happy. When you’re instincts tell you it’s a bad idea, for Lord’s sake, listen!
- Get out more. I know, I know, you’re not a big party girl. That’s OK. But get out there! Go to those networking events you think you’re too tired to go to. Go to the ones where you don’t think you’d fit in. Trust me, you’re bound to meet someone who will have good advice even if you don’t meet your future boss.
- Ask everyone for advice, but don’t follow it blindly. One thing that will frustrate you the most is when your parents, professors and peers all give you different advice. Who is right? And will you disappoint someone by not doing what they suggested? (This is where the relaxing part comes in again.) Take any and all advice that feels right and you think will help, and don’t for a second worry about feelings. You will not hurt someone by working hard for your goal.
- Keep your expectations realistic. Always. There will be a few times when you think that you have a great job in the bag! Just a few more details to be worked out. And then just a few more, and then a few more weeks go by and still you’re unemployed. Don’t stop your search until you have that offer in your hand! If you stop because you think it’s about to happen, you’ll only feel more pressure and stress when you start back up again.
- Make yourself happy and make friends. You’re going to find yourself in a new city far away from where you went to college. You will feel alone and lost at times, but if you make an effort to have friends, you’ll feel much, much better in the long run. Eat lunch and go out after work with other interns in your building or nearby. Know your limits, but try to always say yes. You’re a social person, and you need to have friends to be happy.
- Be true to your passion. You know what you want to do, and you have been working hard to gain the best skills and experiences to get there. Shouldn’t that be enough? Unfortunately not. But don’t lose hope. Your passion and drive will eventually show the right person that you are the perfect fit for a job. Trust me, and let your passion be your guide. Oh, and don’t ever think sharing you passion is too nerdy!
I know that there is probably a lot more that you want to know about what to expect, but by not knowing, you will learn a lot in the next year. You won’t love it, but looking back you’ll appreciate it. Keep your head up, I know you’re destined to get where you want to go!
Future Rebecca 🙂