ConGRADulations. Now what?

grad

Graduation season is upon us! Whether you, your kid or someone else you know is graduating from high school or college, one thing is clear-graduation means big things ahead. We mark these events with solemn ceremony, punctuating the event with hugs and cheers for what we’ve accomplished, and perhaps more so, what lies ahead. Your graduation truly is an accomplishment, but sometimes in the celebration of it all, we forget to consider…what comes next? Maybe you have it all figured out, or maybe you are freaking out because you don’t. Either way, everything is going to be okay! Change is happening, whether you’re ready or not, so today Profession Concession is offering up advice for recent grads to maximize the potential of this truly transitional time in your life. Here we go!

 

You don’t have to go into a four-year degree program. That’s right. For years, traditional college has been touted as essential for professional and monetary success. While it is true that college can be a part in your education and development, it is not necessary to pursue a traditional four-year degree to succeed. Increasingly, the areas of the economy in greatest need of employees are those requiring highly-trained technical workers. What does this mean for you? Choose an area of study that interests you. If that means a four-year degree, great. If not, look into technical programs focused in advanced technology. These programs can be less than a year up to two years and can provide a solid foundation for you to begin your career. For more information on the current needs in the labor market and why college isn’t your only choice, check out this video https://vimeo.com/67277269.

Develop your soft skills. While it is critical to pursue some sort of post-secondary training or education to be competitive in the workplace, remember that there are skills that you need no matter your career choice. Punctuality is key. When you get a job, you will be expected to show up on time everyday. Another big one is professionalism -this is a big one, encompassing a variety of traits, but a tidy appearance, professional speaking and writing skills, and the ability to control your emotions/anger are big ones. There are even programs that will train you specifically in soft-skills if you feel that you would benefit in instruction in that area.

Seek advice, ask questions and learn as much as you possibly can. This is the time of your life to seek after wisdom and knowledge from those at a different place in their journey than you. If you open yourself to all of the experiences your are offered and become a sponge for information, you will feel yourself integrating that information into your life, using it to advance yourself professionally and personally. Don’t discriminate. Learn as much as you can about as many things as possible, then take that general information and begin to hone in on where your talents and interests are focused, then begin to shape your career accordingly. Organizations like SVAM can be a huge asset in your quest for knowledge. With insight into the manufacturing field and resources for job seekers, we can provide tips for breaking into and succeeding in a manufacturing career. Don’t be shy about seeking out professional advice from your community.

Do you have any advice for recent grads or reflections on what graduation feels like? Comment below.

Oh yeah, and congratulations!

Intro to Interviews

interview

Interviews are such a huge part of adult, professional life. From the time you are 16 or apply for your first job, you embark on a long journey of potential interviews to span the course of a 40 or 50 year professional life. Think about it-any important opportunity you encounter is likely to have an interview element. Today at Profession Concession, we are going to try to break down the interview process to help guide you to success, no matter the career field or job description. A word of caution, remember that interviews can vary drastically depending on the type of position to which you are applying. This is a general guide, and we encourage you to do your own research regarding the requirements of your particular interview. With that, let’s dig in-

  1. First impressions are everything. Yeah, we know, you’ve heard this one before, but a gentle reminder doesn’t hurt. Whatever you do, don’t go into an interview with any part of your persona off-putting to others. Did you have a horrible morning and had to hide the coffee stain on your white shirt with a blazer? Who cares. Really, the interviewer doesn’t. So, in this moment, pretend as if none of it matters. You are your very best self without a care in the world and all of the confidence in it. By putting your best foot forward, even on your worst days, you will show your professionalism and ability to handle anything that comes your way. Oh yeah, and  make sure to give a firm handshake and look the person in the eyes.
  2. Dress the part. Yes, it stinks that your personality and skills can’t just radiate out of your brain right into the mind of your interviewer. You can be the smartest, most skilled person in the room, but if you come across as sloppy and  unkempt, the person interviewing you might not care. Really, think about it. This company is looking for a person who will represent them in one way or another. Your job might be in the front office or it might be on the factory floor, and both of those roles have their own unique requirements and dress codes, but at the interview, you are representing yourself as a professional whatever-it-is-you-do, so your job in that moment, is to look professional. For more corporate or business type jobs, you better be in a suit. For other positions, a clean, pressed button-down and khakis are fine. The point here is that you want to look polished. Show the company you care about yourself or there is no way they’ll think that you care about your job.
  3. Enthusiasm required. One of the worst things you can do in an interview is to come in dead-headed and uninterested. Again, this is the circumstance where the the assumption is that you are putting your best face forward. So if you come off as uninterested or unmotivated, the employer is going to assume that things will only go down hill from there. Greet your interviewer with a smile. Engage in the questions asked, don’t just give one word answers. Even ask some questions of your own, for example, “What qualities would you like for the ideal candidate to have for this position?”
  4. Know your stuff. One of the questions you ask should not be “So , what do you do here?”. Google the company! Do your research, ask around. Find out what they make/do and learn enough about it to sound interested and willing to learn more. Also, make sure you review your own qualifications, skills and experience. Some of the items on your resume may be from a decade ago, so you need to refresh yourself on what you did in each position. It’s always strange if a candidate doesn’t remember his own background…
  5. Speak well, listen better. Turn on your professional voice. This doesn’t mean that you have to fake an accent or be anyone other than yourself, it’s about being the best version of yourself possible. Don’t use slang words/phrases, and definitely nix the foul language. Genuinely listen to your interviewer and answer the questions she asks. Don’t just rattle off a prepared recitation of your resume, be a good conversationalist.

There you have it, your starter tips for a great interview! Have other ideas about what makes a great interview? We are interested in hearing from employers and job-seekers alike on this front. E-mail us your thoughts and ideas to marikamiller@swvam.org or comment below!