Bloomberg recently surveyed economists regarding career advice for new college graduates. I highly recommend that you read this article if you’re a new graduate or someone who cares about one. Every point is well made. I want to focus on two of them.
Be willing and able to relocate: The economy is better than it was in 2009, but it’s still not great. To have the wide range of opportunities and the best chance for an optimal salary, be open to moving. Study the industry you want to work in and identify where it is strongest. I’d recommend looking at 3-5 cities. Find ones you would want to live in where there are opportunities in your field.
“Don’t be a lifer”: Loyalty is a virtue. However, it can kill a career. Staying with the same company for 10 or 20 years sounds like a good thing, but it often limits your earning potential and chances for advancement. As the article demonstrates in a graph, loyalty makes sense for people between the ages of 45-70. It is easier to change jobs and industries early in one’s career. Explore the options that work for you and be open to relocating for new career opportunities.
If you learn to manage your career early rather than just looking for a job, you will earn more money and have more control over your destiny. Again, this article in Bloomberg is a good starting point
I’ve written about these topics before, but two recent client comments told me that it might be time to look at them again. One client who has been working in fields that are below his skill level told me that his humanities degree was “worthless.” I reminded him that most Americans (fewer than 35%) have college degrees. Employers look at college degrees as a marker of knowledge and discipline. Many value applicants with humanities degrees because they tend to be better thinkers and often have better communication skills. Rather than look at his degree as “worthless,” I persuaded my client that it will help him find a job.
Today a client who just graduated from a science program told me that she had no experience. Almost every new graduate feels the same way. What they forget is the value of knowledge. School teaches us concepts that we will use on the job. Most programs also offer some kind of hands-on experience in the classroom, labs, or internships. The client who claimed to have no experience actually worked in labs for four years while pursuing her degree. She used equipment and performed tests that were listed on every job post she brought as examples of jobs she wished to pursue. Experience does not only come on the job. It can come in a classroom, lab, or field exercise. If you’re a new graduate, start by looking at what the employer needs and how your education has given you knowledge and skill needed to be a strong candidate.
If you’re a new graduate, don’t despair about a weak degree or lack of experience. Be practical and find a way to market what you learned in college. It has value.