Hello, everyone! You’ll have to pardon my absence. I didn’t forget about my little corner of the internet, I have just been insanely overwhelmed and exhausted the past week and a half.
A while back, I mentioned that I would be starting a new job. Last Tuesday, I embarked on that new journey, and frankly, I’m pooped. Right now, I feel like I’m back in school. Lugging a backpack to and from work, studying books, trying to rewrite notes so that they make more sense. Mathing. Sheesh. It has been a bit of a struggle! My brain is on information overload to the point that a new coworker of mine asked me if I had any specific questions I wanted to address last Friday, and I said, “Yeah, do you know my name? Because I don’t anymore.”
This situation’s had me thinking quite a bit that new starts are probably pretty common among twenty-somethings who, like me, have not quite hit the nail on the head career wise. I would say I know more people who are dissatisfied with and/or unfulfilled by their jobs than I know people who are passionate about what they’re doing. I think a ton of factors play into this. For me, it’s almost never personal, I’m just bummed I’m obligated to be somewhere for at least 40 hours a week and I don’t get free clothes and a glam squad for my troubles.
Anyway, as a constant complainer, avid interviewer, and looklikeadumbassphobic, (and maybe as someone who’s had more jobs than I’d like to list on a resume at this point) I thought I could provide some helpful tips and positive lights for whatever your career situation might be at the moment.
The grass isn’t always greener…
Always leave a job on good terms. (Unless, of course, people are walking all over you and your second full time job is sobbing yourself to sleep. In that case, screw it!) In my mind, this simple rule is a no-brainer, but I know that once that two week’s notice is in, probably every human ever has struggled to really give a job 100% those last few days. I’m here to encourage you otherwise for a few different reasons.
Firstly, the grass isn’t always greener. Recently, one of my best friends started a new job that she was tremendously excited about, only to realize halfway through her second day that things totally weren’t going to work out. Because she’d left such a great impression at her previous job, they had zero hesitations about her coming back, literally the next day, and welcomed her with open arms. Sometimes a bump in pay, or a shortened commute doesn’t make up for what may be in store.
Also, good working relationships make for good career building blocks. A great relationship with your previous boss often means a great reference for your future dream job. I owe every job I’ve ever had to former bosses that have given me rave reviews. Slacking off for your last two weeks, or quitting on the spot, could jeopardize the relationships you’ve built over months or even years. It’s best to leave any job feeling like you’ve left the door of opportunity open, should you ever visit again.
So you’ve landed the interview!
Interviewing is an undeniable stumbling block for practically everyone I know. Interviews are like the adult version of taking midterms. You think you’ve shown up all prepared, only to walk out of the classroom and think, “Shit, I don’t even know what I wrote down for some of those questions. I knew all of the answers until the test was in front of me.” My best friend growing up, was and is a genius, like hyper intelligent. She would study for days before any kind of test, but then test anxiety would take over and sometimes hinder her performance.
Having conducted quite a few interviews in my retail days, I can definitely say that the majority of the candidates I’ve interviewed and hired were far less eloquent during interviews than the vibrant, well-spoken people they actually are.
Strangely enough, even though I’m horrified to buy a movie ticket, drive a car, or order food, I am actually a badass when it comes to interviewing in person. (The phone, meh.) (Also, double self reflection, I rarely refer to myself as a badass at anything. Maybe like nothing else. So, this is legit.) When pressed to think about why interviewing doesn’t really get to my nerves, I was able to identify two concepts that get me in the right mindset:
- Think of your interview as a conversation. Because, guess what? It is! I know a lot of people who look up common interview questions and rehearse their answers to the point that they seem scripted, and trust me, that shows. Maybe this works for some people, but I take a more laid back approach that ultimately settles my nerves before the showdown. Think of a few career highlights that you may be able to discuss, things that you’re proud of and can speak to. Consider something you see in yourself as an opportunity for growth. We all have them. Even I, the interviewing BA. Verse yourself a little in the company’s main objective. And finally, have a couple questions in mind that you genuinely are curious to have answered. Being prepared with a question or two always impresses interviewers, which leads me to my next point…
- You’re not the only one being interviewed. Interviewing is truly a two way street. If you’re interviewing for a company you’ve never worked for before, for a job you’ve never done before, not only are you trying to impress the interviewer, trust me, they’re trying to impress you too. Thinking of interviews this way takes a lot of the edge off for me. It’s kind of like a first date. This is why showing up with a few questions is really great, because you deserve to be wowed too.
Don’t jump the gun. If you need to vent at length about being frustrated with your job, I can totally be your person. I get that sometimes things suck. I get 6am is daunting, and that x amount of vacation days is about 28 less than you wished for. I get it. But, I hear a lot of, “Oh, I’m just going to take some time to figure me out,” “I’m just going to travel around for a bit, you know, while I’m still young,” or my personal favorite, “I’m just going to live off of savings for a while.” While I don’t totally disagree with any of these things, I do think there are some age and life cutoffs for being so cool. (Especially if you need a job to make ends meet.) At 22 and my peak of job frustration, my own mother on the receiving end of my daily sob story told me, “You’re young. Just do nothing for a little while.” 22 year old me needed that. 26 year old me knows that factually, it is much easier to get a job when you HAVE a job. And to my dismay, 26 year old me knows that you will often be asked by employers, “What is this gap in employment here?” Your safest bet, even if you do need to figure you out or travel the world, is to remain on payroll somewhere. Even if you just work like once a month.
Dress for the job you have. Call me new school or whatever, but I am so sick and tired of hearing that, dress for the job you want, not the one you have crap. Unless you are a Little Caesar’s mascot and you’d rather be a CEO, I suggest dressing for the job you have. Actually, even if you are the mascot, dress for the job you have or they’ll definitely fire you. You’re supposed to look like pizza. I find few things more embarrassing than showing up on my first day dressed to the nines and introducing myself to a room full of people wearing jeans and sneakers, silently judging you. Get a feel beforehand for what people will be wearing at your new job, so you don’t add another element of discomfort to an already stressful day.
And finally, you be you. Interviews definitely call for an element of professionalism, but don’t totally hide your light under a bushel. (Nick Miller, still love you.) I always maintain a bit of my quirkiness because I don’t want to shock anyone when it inevitably presents itself later on. And if someone doesn’t like it, bye Felicia. You definitely don’t want to have to walk on eggshells for the rest of your life!
I hope some of you find these helpful if you’re considering a career switch! I’ll see you guys Saturday :).