Over at McLellan Marketing,
Drew "Top Dawg" McLellan is trying to put together an e-book
that will assist recent grads in landing that first job. He’s
soliciting nuggets of wisdom from his readership and I’d encourage you to add
yours. I’ve created a top 10 list for general career strategies to share
with him. Click on the above link to see his post and to add your
comments, stories, or advice.
Nuggets – College Advice 13: 6-33
graduated in 1994 with a degree in International Business. I knew that I
wanted to have an international flare in my vocation but I had no idea what
that meant. Like many business majors, I spent the first 5 years of my
career in sales jobs that were fairly unfulfilling. However, I spent
those 5 years thinking, planning, learning about myself, improving myself, and
building relationships. The time was not "wasted".
in 1999, I had a conversation with an early twenty-something guy that I’d built
a relationship with in my sales days, "I’m looking to get venture capital
financing for my start up company, He said, "I have one month’s salary to
give you to write the business plan. If we succeed, you’re in. If
we don’t, that’s it." I took it, we did it, and the rest is
here are a few nuggets I’ve crystallized from my experience:
Always build relationships in everything you’re involved with. You
NEVER know when that person might be EXACTLY what you’re looking for in an
employee or advisor. These relationships will likely be the ones that
either provide you jobs, financing, or business partners. I haven’t had a
resume since 1999 and wear that as a badge of honor.
2. Foster relationships with mentors. I didn’t do this early
enough. Create an honest self-assessment. I call it a "Life
Resume". When you find someone you truly admire for their skills,
business acumen, relationship skills, etc…ask them for a formal mentor/mentee
relationship. Structure it and meet monthly. I found a venture capitalist
and said, "I want to know what it’s like to be you and what you do all
day," and that’s been over 2 years now.
Shift your thinking to solutions and you’ll be a winner. Everyone
has problems. Meetings are filled with idea killers and lamenters.
Have you noticed though that many leaders are aware of the problems…but
driven to break through to solutions without harping, getting down, or
developing negative energy?
Become very comfortable in your own skin. Speak in public, get
terrified and overcome it. Conquer that inner voice of doubt and break
through to excellence. Nothing will serve you more than being able to
communicate to large numbers of people.
Write. Become an effective writer by having your prose torn apart by
someone good! Don’t be afraid of the red pen! Learn to embrace
it. Say more with less (I should listen to my own advice). Blogging
is a great way to accomplish this. Please keep the party photos and youthful
indiscretions off the myspace pages though.
Follow your passions (hint: they may change). I’m not particularly
passionate about a subject like real estate, economics, or art. But I
have discovered that I’m extraordinarily passionate about growing small
companies into bigger ones NO MATTER WHAT THE SUBJECT MATTER. It took me
a while to gain the perspective and breadth of knowledge to grasp this.
But when I did, doors began opening for me. If you love an industry or
segment, you may want to get some experience in any part of the value chain you
can. I bet if I took a job sweeping the shop floors at a NASCAR team’s
garage just out of school, I’d be a marketing executive by now.
Embrace technology and be an early adopter. This does NOT mean
become a programmer! Learn how to use all of the technology tools that
successful companies use. There’s nothing more powerful than "the
girl who just seems to know how to do it all". It doesn’t seem like
it, but it will become harder keep up when you get older so consciously extend
beyond your comfort zone throughout your career or you’ll get passed by.
Consider the option of NEVER getting a "real job".
Self-employment may not be everyone’s first best destiny, but you may not know
until you try. It may seem safer to be employed by someone else, but I’d
beg to differ. If you have it in you, do it. I’d rather see try and
fail vs. never try.
Dress Well. It’s advice that seems to be missing from the
"Golden Rule" list when growing up these days. It’s NEVER
harmful to be the best dressed person in a room. You will command more
respect by being well dressed. If you don’t know what looks good, seek
10. Have initiative. Take on tasks and roles that extend beyond
your comfort zone and knowledge base. This could be the largest single
factor in your success. Immerse in something new. Passionately
obsess about something until you know more than most about the topic. Do
this enough times, and you’ll find yourself able to participate in a much
larger sphere of influence. Nothing pleases me more than hearing, "I
don’t know how to do that, but I’ll figure it out and have it done shortly."