Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Case Study in How to Get a Job

With about a month to go until many students graduate, the search for a job should begin in earnest.  Actually, it should be in high gear. A typical hiring process could take a month or two…at least.  A job opening is posted and applications solicited.  Interviews must be scheduled and references checked before an offer is made.  The successful applicant then should give at least two weeks’ notice to his or her current employer.  If this is your first full-time, post-college job, you may still want a couple of weeks to prepare for your entry into the workforce.  Just to give you an example, I left my position at Marist on January 6, and it appears that no decision will be made on a successor until May at the earliest.

A Marist Communication/Journalism major graduating on May 20 personifies the textbook lesson in how to land a job.  A week after he receives his Bachelor of Arts degree, Bryan Terry of Colonie, NY will start as a news assistant at YNN, a 24-hour news channel, in their Albany, NY hub.  How did Bryan do this? He earned it.

Bryan reminds me of myself at his age.  We were both news geeks, very focused on broadcast journalism.  It is that early interest in what he wanted to do with his life that helped Bryan create a path to his first job offer in the field he has wanted to enter since he was in the sixth grade.

Bryan took advantage of many opportunities offered to him.  He has a 3.9 GPA, plays trombone in the band, studied abroad in Florence, worked with the Marist Poll, and selected three internships that provided him valuable work experience from both sides of the reporter’s notebook – the newsroom of WRGB-TV in Schenectady, the team that produces Capital Tonight on YNN, and the press office of New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. At each employer (and you should always consider your internship provider as an employer, whether or not you are paid), he worked hard, doing more than was required; was not a clock watcher; and shared his knowledge of social media.

How well did he do? You can see the respect and true affection his employers had for Bryan in their video tributes.  He may forever be called “Intern Bryan,” thanks to being assigned that moniker during his tenure with Capital Tonight.  His dedication, tenacity, and passion for his work left an indelible impression on each employer.

Bryan also maintained his relationships with his supervisors, sending them an occasional email or visiting if he was in the neighborhood.  I have written before about the importance of networking.  When you meet someone, you shouldn’t think, “How is this person going to get me a job?”  You should show genuine interest in the person with whom you’re communicating, and consider how you can help him or her.  Is there information you can provide?  Do you have knowledge in an area the other person does not and that you would be willing to share?  Was there an interesting item you read in mainstream or social media that is worth passing along? Bryan did this. An email here, a phone call there, an occasional visit, none intrusive, just enough to keep his “top of mind awareness” among potential employers.

Bryan blogs as a class project, but his work product shows he has a reporter’s instinct for news, that he writes well, and that he is not afraid to tackle tough issues.  He follows the right people and organizations on twitter, exhibiting an interest in national, state and local government topics, trends in journalism, a familiarization with his craft.

He checked in with people who would know what jobs might be open now or in the future. That’s how Bryan found out about the opening for a news assistant at YNN.  He had advocates within the organization who could attest to his skills.  He had references who could provide specific examples of his outstanding work (rather than a blasé chat that a human resources professional could sniff out as BS in less than a minute).   His résumé and cover letter extolled his virtues but addressed the needs of his employer rather than thumping his chest about who he is or what he’s done.  Both were also error free, having been proofread by several people.  After his interviews, Bryan immediately sent thank you notes to those who met with him, reiterating his interest in and qualifications for the job.

Bryan’s reward:  a job that is waiting for him a month before graduation.  He communicated his passion and ability, put those qualities to work to create a positive reputation, and as much as this is positive for him, it’s just as positive for YNN, which is fortunate to have someone as talented as Bryan on its team.

One last thing…A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted that one of my former students had a summer internship in finance for a prestigious firm in Manhattan and that anyone interested should direct message me for details and I would connect them to her.  Only two people did: A Marist sophomore and a student in London, England. The Marist student follows me on twitter, but I can’t honestly say that I know him well.  Still, the fact that he contacted me quickly, explained his credentials in 140 characters, and went back-and-forth with me to exchange information, always expressing his appreciation for helping him with this connection, spoke volumes about him.  He got the internship and thanked me immediately after getting the offer.  It was networking all around – my former student contacting me; my using social media to connect with prospective employees, and someone who follows me on that medium to reach out, follow through, and land the gig. That’s an age-old process that still yields results in 2012.

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