These 3 Things Could Help You Land Your First "Real" Job

Nia Hendricks
Need a job to support you through college? It's not too early to start exploring or preparing. These three tips may help you find the right fit!

Landing your first job or internship in your field of choice is a big accomplishment and has the potential to set you on a trajectory toward career-shaping experiences and essential connections. But how do you go from high school graduate to young professional? Secondary students at Calvary Christian Academy get to exercise professionalism and public speaking skills throughout their coursework, and especially through their 8th and 12th grade ePortfolio presentations. A rite of passage of sorts, students share their stories of faith, reflections, and hopes for the future in front of a panel of leaders who provide valuable feedback and constructive criticism on the presentation. The School Counseling Team at CCA also provides resources, workshops, and one-on-one academic and career coaching for high school students to help them make wise choices toward an independent and meaningful future. As you transition into the job market, here are three insights that will help you put your best foot forward and land your first real job.

Look for something you enjoy.

Let’s be real. Not every job you take will give you a glowing sense of fulfillment—everybody’s gotta pay the bills—but ideally, you should like the brand you work for and care about its mission. “Researchers found that enjoying your work is a critical part of actually getting your work done—and doing it well,” says The Huffington Post of a study from researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Properly applying for jobs takes time and effort. Don’t waste both on something you’re not interested in. Besides, your lack of affinity for the job will end up hurting your growth and efficiency. Also search for jobs that will challenge you, jobs that will teach you new skills and ideas. If you can’t find anything worthwhile about a position or brand, consider taking your time and talents elsewhere. Of course, this may not be an option when you’re just starting out. But as you gain experience, keep your personal goals and emotional health in mind and let them be guiding factors as you make career moves.
"Researchers found that enjoying your work is a critical part of actually getting your work done..."

Rethink you résumé.

Your résumé may be your only chance to make an impression, so make it a good one. Start with a bio. A bio is a prime opportunity to display your personality and give insight into who you are as a person. Keep it concise but personable—three to four sentences max. Your bio should be about your personal brand and interests, since the bulk of your résumé will detail your education, and relevant experience and skills. Speaking of, if you’re content for these categories is sparse, don’t be discouraged. Food and retail service jobs can still provide a lot of valuable experience and skills, even if they’re not related to the field your applying for. For example, if your only two jobs were as a waitress and you’re applying for a customer service position, detail how you have experience winning customer loyalty, resolving issues for customers and coworkers, and juggling multiple tasks at a time. With a little imagination (and of course, honesty), it’s highly likely you can find common ground between your experience and the position you’re applying for. Final tips: Good design can go a long way. Keep it concise. Provide references.
Food and retail service jobs can still provide a lot of valuable experience and skills, even if they’re not related to the field your applying for.

Prepare for the interview.

Should you make it past the gauntlet of hiring managers and receive a call for an interview, congratulations! But your work isn’t finished. It’s time to do your homework. Even if the meeting is casual, do your research on the position and company before your interview so that you can effectively present yourself and also assess whether or not the position is the right fit for you.

A few essential things you should know and think through:
  • Brand history and mission
  • Why you want to work with this brand
  • How your past experience (even if it’s limited!) has prepared you for this role
  • What your long-term professional goals are
  • Your questions about the role, expectations, and benefits

Everybody starts somewhere! With hard work and creativity, you can find the first “real” job that’s right for you and your budget without compromising your interests or passions. Be resilient and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
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