You just spent the past four years of your life at a university reading books and learning about stuff. The years before that were spent at another school learning about other stuff.
Now, you’re about to enter into another world where people want you to do stuff rather than just learn about it.
Whoa. Big problem.
But, before you totally freak out about this transition, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Your biggest obstacle right now is YOU.
You heard me. Sure, there are other factors that are making this transition difficult, but the biggest challenge is going to be getting past yourself. How do I know this?
It really wasn’t that long ago when I was in your place. I had graduated from the University of Redlands with a creative writing degree and returned home to live with my parents. During that time I worked at the same preschool I had volunteered at my entire life.
I wrote for a couple of blogs on the side but for the most part I was pretty far from my dream of writing for a living.
I was still receiving my emailed list of job opportunities from AfterCollege and about a year into working at the preschool, the Editorial and Social Media Internship position appeared.
Reading the job description and application requirements, I realized that this was what I wanted to do. I could definitely write blog posts about looking for a job after college! After all, wasn’t that just an autobiography?
But the job description didn’t just talk about writing blog posts. There was a social media component as well. Though I was pretty darn familiar with most social media networks from personal use, when it came to actually making them work for a company, I was at a loss. I mean, most of my Facebook friends were actually my real-life friends…
Not much of a following.
And I had never even heard of any social media managing platforms like Hootsuite.
At this point I was starting to sweat a bit.
I decided to head over to the blog to get a better idea of what I would be required to write. When I got there I read a post, and though I can’t remember exactly which one it was (it must have had something to do with being a front-end developer), I know that it really scared me. I remember thinking Oh, no! I don’t know anything about coding. How am I supposed to write about things like that?
All of a sudden I was doubting my abilities. I had spent most of my life writing, reading, and developing my editorial skills, but did that really mean I was qualified to write about things like software development?
So there I was, staring at my computer screen and talking myself out of applying. I was so intimidated by the information that I didn’t know that I completely forgot about what I did. Having no “professional” experience was causing me to doubt my abilities.
Luckily I had the support group of friends and family who told me I was being silly.
“It’s an internship,” they all chided, “you’re not supposed to already know how to do everything.”
And they were right. I may not have known how to schedule tweets or Google+ posts and I certainly did not know about careers in graphic design or UX, but there was a lot I did know.
I knew how to write and, perhaps more importantly, I knew how to learn.
So, with a little coaxing (and some long talks with myself in the mirror) I decided to apply.
If you can’t tell, I got the internship and after completing my time as an office newb, I was hired on full-time. I definitely did not have it all figured out when I started, but that was okay. I learned and then I learned and then I learned some more. In fact, I’m still learning. That’s what internships and entry-level jobs are all about.
It can be really easy to convince yourself that you’re not “good enough” for the job because of scary job descriptions and self-doubt.
Or, as written in this article for the Harvard Business Review, even if you are confident in your abilities, it can seem like you won’t get hired (or even considered) for a job opening if you don’t meet one hundred percent of the necessary qualifications.
But remember, most of the time you’re not expected to meet all of the requirements listed in a job description.
James Citrin recently wrote a post for LinkedIn titled, “How to Get the Job When You Don’t Have the Experience.” This is a fabulous piece for any recent graduate entering into the workforce. He explains what you have going for you as a recent graduate and how to make use of it all.
Transitioning from student to job-seeker is pretty terrifying. It’s a new terrain and you’re going to be unsure of yourself, but what you have to remember is that you can get a job. The job search techniques featured on this blog and others will help, but you have to get past your own mind first. Don’t stand in your own way.
Homework time! First of all, you can rid yourself of some of this doubt by doing internships or volunteering while you’re still in college. That way you’ll have some experience.
Look at other aspects of your life where you gained experience like participating in clubs, working on the newspaper, group projects, etc. You have more experience than you think.
Then it’s time to take the next step. Check out your job options on AfterCollege and then head over to the tips and tricks section of this blog. Also, James Citrin has lots of great advice for recent graduates.