The title describes how I felt in 2004 when I left the comfort and familiarity of college to set out into the "real world" and start my career. I will admit - I thought it would be easy to find my dream job, right out of the gate.
The reality for college grads is quite the opposite. Unless you've finished at the top of your class from schools like Yale or Harvard, your degree alone won't take you far.
So what can you do gain experience needed to help you to become a more savvy professional?
Here are a few ideas you might try:
- Get internships - While most don't offer a pay check, internships provide college students and grads the opportunity to test out a company from the inside. If you work hard and show that you're dependable, the face time with management may translate into a permanent position.
- Find a mentor: In fact, find two or three of you can. Business owners, CEO's, or other higher-level executives make great mentors and are usually happy to share their experiences. Find someone who is as eager to teach as you are to learn, and meet with them often. Always ask questions. One of my mentors has an interesting method of teaching.
- Join a trade association - It's a great way to get connected with other like-minded individuals in your industry. Trade associations are typically hubs of information on current best practices and practical applications of your trade. If you think that learning stops after you're finished with college, think again.
- Network - This is probably one of the most important things you can do as a young professional. Set a goal to meet a certain number of new people per week. Then look at how to immerse yourself in situations that will allow you to do so. Use tools like social networks. Web-based solutions like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Plaxo make it easy to keep track of your contacts.
- Start a blog - It's great way to practice your writing skills. It also provides you with a channel to let potential employers learn more about you. Don't be afraid to direct them to your blog as follow up to an interview. Here are a few more reasons to start a blog.
- Keep a journal - If you write it down, it's real. Journaling is a great a way to capture notes and ideas as you move along your career path. Keep your journal with you all the time since you never really know when that big idea might pop in your head.
- Work harder than your competition - And by competition, I mean all the other intelligent young professionals who are looking to make their way. Success is a numbers game. If the playing field is filled with other smart and driven people, then those who put in the most effort will rise to the top. Be careful not to burn out though. Find your balance between work and play.
- Not happy with your Job? Quit! - My grandfather once told me: "Love what you do, and you'll never have to work a day in your life." If you are not happy in your position or company, then you're wasting valuable time. Don't be afraid to move on. There's a better job waiting for you. All you have to do is find it.