This week's Conversation Corner discusses the life of a new hire in 2020 with non-other than a new hire (because advice from anyone else would be so 2019).
Your first job out of school is going to be a transition. Period. You're making a huge leap from the classroom and internships/co-ops into the real world and that leap can make anyone feel like a fish out of water. So, add a pandemic to the mix and you have a recipe for the perfect cluster *insert expletive.
My best friend @courtneypellegrino (who is currently on an Instagram hiatus) is seriously one of the most driven people I've ever met. She gives 110% at all times, so it was no shock that she secured a role at her dream company before even graduating from Drexel University. Her school has a co-op program, so she actually started working for said company before the pandemic hit and before graduating. Bursting with pride for my bestie, I knew I wanted to have a Conversation Corner with her because a lot of people are in the same boat as her right now. That boat is awesome, but still not ideal.
Metaphorically, 2020 is the Titanic, and getting a job offer in this economy is like making it onto a life raft as the ship sinks. You feel lucky you got onto the life raft, but you're still in freezing cold water with no end in sight.
As our constant disclaimer, the Conversation Corner has one rule: it will always be real. No B.S., because quite frankly there is enough of that already on the internet.
So here we go...
DD: Quote you live by?
CP: “The best advice I’ve ever received is, ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.’” ~ Ricky Gervais
DD: Explain that quote a little bit more for me?
CP: “As an almost graduate, I look at LinkedIn a lot. It’s the only social media app I use nowadays, and I, unfortunately, treat it like Instagram, where I constantly scroll and compare myself to everyone else. Looking at former classmates’ and friends’ work updates, I can get overwhelmed and obsess over the fact that I don’t think I’m doing enough or that I’m not accomplishing what others (are at) my age. Therefore, this quote kind of helps me to remember that I am as qualified as anyone else because not everyone is as perfect or accomplished as they (may) seem on LinkedIn. Also, it reminds me to refocus on myself, since I should only be concerned with improving myself instead of comparing myself (to others).”
DD: Paint us a picture of your job/co-op before the pandemic?
CP: “Before the pandemic, I commuted about 20 minutes from my amazing apartment in the city to my beautiful office every day. Once I was settled at my desk, I would go and get my favorite breakfast (a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich with a chai almond milk latte) from my work cafeteria. Then, during the day, I would sit at my desk and plug and chug some things in Excel, have biweekly meetings with coworkers, call vendors about deliveries or technical issues, and chat with my manager beside me. After, I would go back home and look forward to doing the same thing the next day.”
DD: How has it changed?
CP: “When ‘Queen Rona’ came around, I moved out of my apartment and back in with parents, school went all online, and I was furloughed (which is a nicer way of saying temporarily laid off). Not to mention, I was furloughed on the day that would have marked one year with my company. So, as a soon-to-be graduate and a 1-year employee, I thought I’d be smooth sailing into post-grad with a job and more than a year of experience under my belt; but, plans change. So, I adapted and rolled with the punches until I was one of the lucky ones who was brought back to work after 3 months, which gave me relief.”
“Coming back to work, my commute is now walking from my bed to my desk and my go-to breakfast changed to a mix of Starbucks, Dunkin’, or whatever is in the fridge in the morning. Also, instead of chatting with my coworkers and managers in person, I now Zoom or talk with them on Microsoft teams. Besides these subtle differences, the biggest change was receiving more projects and responsibilities as I came back. Therefore, even though furlough was a minor setback, it paved the way for a major comeback as those added responsibilities helped me earn a verbal offer for a full-time job next year!”
DD: Best advice on making the most of a new experience/ being a new hire?
CP: “The best advice I would give is to network. I think it can help you get really far in any company because it’s a way to get your name out there and have people remember you, especially if your company is on the larger side.”
“For myself, I work with over 3,000+ people, so it was important for me to network so I could stand out as a new hire/intern. For instance, I would chat with people who were outside my department, and even those whose jobs are not even remotely close to what I do. I did this to learn about other jobs and people at the company as well as to see if there were any positions that I could potentially see myself laterally moving into in the future. I think networking is important for this reason because it can give you a more well-rounded view of your company. Also, it can show you maybe what position you want, and it gives you the chance to speak with the people who can give you advice and expertise on how to get there.”
“A tip I would give to networking is to start chatting with those with who you have mutual connections. Then, ask those you interview for recommendations of who to speak with next based on the conversations you had. This way, it can help build your network and expand your expertise on topics that really interest you.”
DD: Now for our final question of each interview, what now?
CP: “Now, I am still in school, working part-time, counting down the days until I graduate in December, and waiting on an official offer from my company! It can’t come soon enough."
Courtney gives great advice (I know I am biased but it is great). If you only take one thing out of this Conversation Corner is that everyone experiences uncomfortable situations as a postgraduate.
Even if you're still unemployed, being employed can be just as stressful, so don't obsess over titles and LinkedIn statuses.
So as our interviewee suggested, focus on yourself. Focus on how to improve your own situation, rather than comparing yourself to others.