Q. With this economy being as tough as it is, what is your advice for graduates that are looking for jobs?
A. Don’t “wait for the economy to improve.” I know a lot of people doing this. They don’t want to be underemployed; So, they would rather be unemployed or go back to school. But, in my opinion, that is nonsense. Think about where you would like to be (in regards to your career) in 1 year. In 5 years? Start sculpting your resume to get you those jobs. To do so, look for jobs that interest you that will also develop your skills and knowledge. This may mean you are underemployed today, but it should help you get to where you want to be down the road. And what will that make you? Rightly employed!
Q. I got a Liberal Arts degree! Now what?
A. A typical joke about liberal arts degrees will quickly tie the degree into arts and crafts. With that assumption, you will have a tough time getting any job! But the truth of the matter is this: a liberal arts student takes a wide breadth of courses on different topics: philosophy, psychology, anthropology, government and politics, etc. All of these courses teach you how to analyze a problem or a situation and come up with a solution. A lot of companies know this (mine included) and have no qualms hiring a liberal arts student for a business related role. They do expect you to have a certain level of aptitude, though, because they will have to train you a little more than someone who went to school with that major. In practice, not by much, though. For a technical job like engineering this won’t be the case, but don’t write yourself off just because you got a liberal arts degree!
Q. How can I find a job that utilizes my strengths while also aligning with my personal interests?
A. What you want to do, in this case, is look for themes throughout your past. You can do this by writing down all the elements of your life. Even if that lemonade stand you started when you were 6 seems irrelevant, write it down. Why? If you put that in conjunction with the leaf raking business you started at 12, the painting company you operated during college, the web site development company you started right after college, and the craft business you started a few months ago – you will come to a theme of entrepreneurship. As a kid your entrepreneurship was geared towards more trivial things. As you got older it developed into larger scale things. But, regardless of the industry, you have shown a knack for entrepreneurship. If you truly want a job that aligns with your strengths, look for something entrepreneurial in nature to co-exist with your personal endeavors. To make sure it aligns with your personal interests, well… that one is for you to figure out!
Please realize that it doesn’t have to be a theme as obvious as the example above, though. If you have always enjoyed being the friend everyone can open up to and tell their problems to, do you think being a guidance counselor or psychiatrist is in your cards? Perhaps!
And a few I found randomly…
- In the mix of organizing a party, preparing for a first job, and studying for finals, many grads overlook their health insurance. What many don’t realize is, the moment they walk off that graduation stage their health insurance through school or a parent’s policy expires. It’s important for graduates to have at least some type of health insurance coverage in case of a hospitalization or injury – medical bills are anything but cheap. GradGuard offers free price comparisons on gap insurance plans perfect for new grads. Check it out: GradGuard.com/medical.
- The most important thing upon hire is to max out your 401 (k). You will not believe how effortlessly you can amass a huge amount of money in a short period of time. Furthermore, losses caused by delaying participation can be impossible to compensate for.
- Stay away from the financial services industry as much as possible. When you must deal with them, treat every aspect of the transaction with an extremely skeptical attitude — their entire business purpose is to suck money out of ordinary people. The same principles apply to anything having to do with real estate.
- You aren’t going to get rich in the stock market, real estate market, or some other “start up” scheme. Focus on a career that maximizes wage income, benefits (particularly a defined benefit pension plan), and job security. Look for work in government or in union-represented jobs (these provide more protections for employees), that require face-to-face or on-site contact, so that it cannot be “outsourced” or “off-shored.”
- Don’t get caught up in pointless status consumption. It’s just a waste of money.
- Don’t put money in the stock market that you can’t afford to lose.
- Don’t take anything you read in the mainstream media too seriously. These publications make their money selling advertising and want to provide a positive environment for their advertisers, so you’ll never read anything substantially adverse to their advertisers’ interests, particularly in “opinion” or “personal finance” columns.
And my personal favorite:
- The Golden Rules that my father taught me:
1) Always ALWAYS live within your means – no money for an iPod or that cool car? You won’t die if you don’t have it right now.
2) Always put away 30% of your income in savings.
3) Always shop for the best deal.
4) Use your credit card judiciously to build good credit but by no means use it as a license to spend what you don’t have in your bank account.
5) Use cash whenever you can – watching the transaction take place (and feeling the pain) will help regulate your spending
6) Always pay your bills on time
Hope this takes the edge off!