This week I spoke at George Washington University to the professional organization, AABPA, American Association for Budget and Program Analysis. The demographic was graduate and undergraduate students from across the country, many of them spending their summer in Washington, DC, as interns for the federal government. My presentation (found below) focused on GovLoop, all of our great career resources, and some tips and tricks how to land a job. It was a fun presentation to give.
Be sure to view the slides, there is a lot of information on great career resources that GovLoop has, like jobs.govloop.com, Rock Your Resume, and our extremely successful, and growing, mentors program. Below are some of the other tips I provide to the students:
- Audit Yourself: Think through the skills, talents, and experiences you have, and how you can bring those into a work environment.
- Focus on skills: Think through those skills – what kind of position can you do? What are you interested? You might be surprised with what you find.
- Think about work culture: What kind of work environment do you work best in? Suit and tie everyday? Kakis? Jeans? Being a right fit is critical to your success
- Network like you never have networked before: Some of us informally network (happy hours), others formally (informational interviews), do what you are most comfortable with and utilize your resources.
- Apply appropriately & strategically: Here I mentioned the idea of quality over quanity – apply to the positions you really want, and take the time to perfect your resume, cover letter, references, etc. Have some back ups, but really invest the time in appropriate positions.
- Be ready for a whole new set of challenges once employed: First, celebrate being employed and landing the job, but just be ready for a new set of challenges once you are in the office.
- Don’t Stress, everything is about balance: We’ve all be job hunting, and understand the pressures and stress. Try to keep a clear head, and make sure to relax when you can to refocus and recharge. Take that lesson into your professional life as well.
My favorite part of the presentation came with my last few slides, with what I called, The Great Myth of the Millennial Generation. It’s a simple concept, that as a generation, we have already been given some pretty unfavorable labels, the one that I identified, and have the most reservations about, was the label that we will be the first generation not to live as well as our parents.
I am completely aware of the deep and complex challenges my generation faces, solving the national debt crisis, fixing medicare/medicaid, social security, reforming healthcare – and other related issues – these challenges do not have an easy or quick solution, but are absolutely challenges my generation will have to face.
So, what is a generation to do? First, we need to remind ourselves that America is built on the promise that each generation builds upon the next. Millennials are too young to become cynical. I always think back to my 10th grade American history teacher, Mr. Henry, talking about the American Dream, often he would reference Horatio Alger and pulling yourself up from your bootstraps. Each generation has its set of challenges, and met them head on. Now it’s our turn to face the challenges, and turn the ship around.
I remember as a student looking for a job, everyone I talked to and sought advice from would always remind me that “You’re looking for a job during a down economy, explore numerous options.” This advice was fine, but after awhile, you just want to hear something upbeat. Part of my goal of the presentation was to reframe the job search, not thinking about the negatives, but reminding them that they are starting something extremely exciting and a long journey. Although the road might be a little longer to land your first job, landing a job comes from dedication, hard work, and will be the first of many more career milestones to come.
My slides can be found below from the presentation. Again, it was a fun one to give, and really enjoyed giving the presentation.