Day 10: #BlogLikeCrazy – Career in Review
I remember graduating from THE Alabama A&M University in 2012, stressed and CLUELESS.
Stressed because I did not fully understand the magnitude of what came next, until it happened, and CLUELESS because quite frankly, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
My one goal, post-graduation, was to graduate with a job, and that DID NOT HAPPEN.
We will talk more about why, later.
The summer of my Junior year, I had an internship working with Tennessee Extensions, it was a decent experience but career wise, I wasn’t sold that I would be happy with that career choice.
The summer of my Senior year, I had the opportunity to intern with a Fortune 500 company, which at the time, FELT LIKE A DREAM!
When selected for the internship, I WAS ECSTATIC!
The internship came with a company car, company credit card, relocation stipend, plus my salary not to mention the opportunity to see a completely different part of the world.
I was super nervous but excited.
This opportunity had already given me the chance to board my first flight, so the thought of what was to come had me extremely pumped about my future.
Fast-forward to three weeks into a ten-week internship and I was MISERBLE.
I spend so much time preparing for the internship, excited, and nervous, that I never slowed down to think about the extremely complicated situation I would face.
The design of the company was to place their interns into environments where they’d be uncomfortable.
I must say, the lack of comfort was an UNDERSTANDMENT.
I was alone, in a foreign place, surrounded by mid-aged white men who were unwelcoming and looked extremely confused about my presence.
I was a triple minority, Black, Female, and Young, and as time went on, I FELT SO LOST.
Imagine me, a young, black female, 110 pounds, in Wichita, Kansas walking through corn fields, during the year of Obama’s re-election.
Can you say, AWKWARD???
It was honestly one of THE most difficult experiences I’ve had in life, simply because I spent so much time alone, even at work, and never invited into a conversation.
The Kiara in 2012, is totally not the Kiara you may now know.
At that time, I was an EXTREME Introvert and walking into unfamiliar situations was so uncomfortable for me.
I look back, now, grateful for the experience and the opportunity, because it has absolutely helped me overcome and find my voice in my career TODAY, howeverrrr at the time, I was unprepared.
Although my summer internship experience was not THE BEST, I still interviewed for a full-time position with the company for a job opportunity upon graduation.
I was NOT selected, which I was perfectly okay with, BUT I had zero backup plans to the one goal I had in mind.
All of the above is WHY we are having this conversation TODAY.
We spend an insane amount of time preparing for what’s to come, but when the plan fails, we give up and we have no backup strategy to fall on.
After two failed internships, I knew exploring a career in Agriculture was NOT for me, but I had no idea where to go from there.
Instead of utilizing my last semester to figure things out, I did nothing.
So today, I want to share a few quick tips to START and keep your career on a steady, progressive path.
HOW TO START:
DO NOT WAIT. Once you begin taking your major courses in college, that is the time to consider how you’d like to navigate your career. It is my assumption that your major of choice was selected based upon career opportunities, so now it’s time to figure out the specifics.
RESEARCH. Research the various career opportunities that are applicable to your field of study. Decide what your interests are and prepare to explore.
CREATE A RESUME. Even if you are not yet “officially” in the job market, create a resume. Use your leadership, major school projects, and extracurriculars to form your resume.
INTERN. After your research is complete and your resume is created, search for internships AND companies you’d like to work for. APPLY. Ideally, you should begin applying for summer internships in the FALL semester the year before. For example, Fall 2022 apply for internships for the Summer of 2023.
USE YOUR FREE TIME WISELY. College is fun but do not get so wrapped in the fun that you forget one day college will be over. I always recommend that you have a social life, but I also recommend that you utilize your time to gain meaningful work history. There are many employers who are flexibility with the schedules of students.
GET A MENTOR. Find a mentor who fits where you are as you start your journey and where you’re going. A mentor will help you navigate through the highs, lows, and unexpected battles as you start your career.
HOW TO KEEP GOING:
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO MOVE. I can’t believe I’m saying this but EXPLORE all that your career has to offer. If your company or another company of interest offers to move you, GO!
DON’T GET TOO COMFORTABLE. The general rule of thumb is to move around within your career, whether it is promotions or lateral movements, every 2-3 years. This will help expand your breadth (knowledge) and depth (skillset) over the course of your career.
TAKE LEADERSHIP CLASSES. If your company offers leadership classes or any opportunities to expand your knowledge, take them. Nine times out of ten those classes are to your benefit for promotional opportunities that may arise later. No matter what point you are in your career, you should always be a student. Forever learning.
TALK TO YOUR SUPERVISOR. Put in the effort to get to know and establish a working relationship with your direct supervisor. If you have a good one, they will encourage you and challenge your growth. He or she will also help you progress in your career.
KEEP TRACK OF WHAT YOU DO. If you desire to progress in your field, keep track of your performance, major projects, results, and anything of added value that shows your worth to your employer. This information is often what you’d like to include in a performance evaluation.
SET CAREER GOALS. Your career does not stop once you’ve gotten the job, if promotions and an increased salary are points of interest for you, set a goal on how you will achieve those items.
GET A MENTOR. Same statement as above, a mentor is there to help guide through your career journey. Pick a mentor who has taken a career path similar to your interests or where you aspire to be.
The tips above are not only things I WISH I knew along the way but also things I’ve LEARNED along the way as well.
I’ve had pretty amazing supervisors who saw my potential and encouraged me to strive for excellence and challenging growth opportunities for the betterment of my career.
There’s so much to unpack with this topic, but this is a SOLID starting point for now.
Don’t forget to tune in via zoom, TONIGHT, as we discuss business professionalism, workplace etiquette, and effective communication. It’s free and value-added information especially after today’s blog topic! REGISTER HERE
Until Next Time, #KeyInspires