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Archive for March, 2009

The economic malaise that began in 2008 and is still going on now has thrown everyone for so many loops. As we’ve discussed here on several occasions, college students and graduates have their a unique set of obstacles. And even then each student has his or her own concerns. Some degrees are more in demand than others, and we don’t know what industries will bounce book sooner than later. It’s all very tricky.

On the plus side, you’re not alone. Although you probably look at your classmates as potential job competition, you also have a country of people feeling what you’re feeling. The frustration, confusion, excitement, and everything else.

Here’s what Tierney’s feeling right now:

cbtierneyLike many upcoming college graduates my outlook isn’t too bright. I can’t help but be pessimistic, especially with my degree of choice…journalism. My dream has always been to write for a newspaper and they are diminishing daily. Obsolete is the best way to describe them. Buzz words in newsrooms have become consolidation and convergence.

Journalism has been changing in the last few years. Fewer people go to the print media to receive their news. They’ve come to rely on the internet for their information. This forces journalists to work harder to produce more content, in less time, for less money.

In addition, the entire work industry is shrinking-making it difficult for anyone to move into the working world. Although many blame the economy for the breakdown of newspapers, the truth is news organizations have been attempting to adjust to new demands long before the recession began.

The competitive nature of the job market has enhanced the need for journalists who are multi-faceted and able to work in all forms of media. This is also the case for all job hunters.

For anyone searching for entry-level jobs, the trend is overwhelmingly in new media practices. Job hunters must play up their skills in this area and showcase their willingness and ability to learn even more. The use and understanding of new technologies is what sets apart the experienced and the inexperienced-for once giving an edge to us newcomers.

Within the last year, realizing my print dream was dying, I began to research online journalism techniques. The response wasn’t promising. Writing HTML code bored me to tears and the concise nature of writing news for the web was difficult because it wasn’t what I was accustomed to. I suffered through the learning and came out better because of it.

While college graduates may be forced to acclimate to a not so friendly economic situation, there are things that can be done to combat the effects. We must explore our options. Widen our horizons. Take time to learn new things. And with the current state of the economy there is no time like the present!

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We started talking about networking on Wednesday, and there’s more to be said!  For seasoned professionals who have years of experience, networking is commonplace, but to young students, it’s often just an abstract concept that you can’t relate to. Here is Kailee’s view on what networking means to her and in this economy.

kailee-hPeople always say it’s who you know that counts, but until recently, I never really understood the concept of networking, or how to take advantage of it. I was unsure of who could assist me professionally and what tools or resources I could employ in my search for internships and jobs. Only in the past year have I come to fully appreciate the value of networking.

Professors, peers and parents throw the word networking around like it’s something you should have known and been practicing all along. Networking is a term that can mean a lot of different things, but I now know that networking is often what you need to do to get your foot in the door. Those same professors and bosses you never thought to get to know have a wealth of experience and contacts they are more than willing to share with an eager and ambitious student. Recently, I have taken advantage of this which has made my job search a lot easier.

One of my professors, for instance, has become my mentor and been the source of referrals to many different companies. Since building that relationship with him, I have been able to get a number of interviews that might not otherwise be possible. Most valuable, though, is the insight this professor has been able to provide into the various opportunities that are becoming available to me.

In today’s tough economic times and tight job market, networking is one of the biggest advantages you can have on your competition. Not only is a referral a great way to differentiate yourself, but these professors, peers and parents can also serve as an amazing untapped resource of knowledge and insight.

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Anytime someone gives you advice it can feel a little vague.

“Work hard!” “Try your best!” “Don’t take advice from anyone.”

That’s all well and good, but what does it actually mean and how do you do it? It’s sort of akin to an athlete telling you, “The best way to train for a triathlon is to be active.”  Great, thanks.

Job advice is equally maddening. I know this firsthand, and I think most people should know this, but they often forget about it. Once you’ve established your career and are years removed from youthful insecurities, it’s easier to forget how abstract The Real World can be.

We asked our CBCampus ambassadors to explain how they view networking, seeing as everyone seems to be talking about it these days. Natalie has some helpful thoughts on the matter:

cbnatalieAs a senior graduating in a few months, I’ve attended my share of seminars and workshops preparing myself for life after graduation.  A question I ask every professional I talk to is, “What’s your best piece of advice for a person graduating in this economy?”

Networking is the number one answer.  Network, network, network.

If the professionals are saying it’s important, it’s important.  My biggest question is “What is networking?”  I’ve heard people say that it could be saying “Hi” to a person in the elevator or “Hello” to the person behind you in line.

I think it has to be much more than that.  Saying “Hi” doesn’t mean anything.  It has to be conversation.  There has to be a connection and some sort of mutual interest in each other.  I don’t think anyone has to be best friends with the people they’re networking with, but I do think respect has to be involved.  Saying “Hi” is the start of networking.  Conversation is the second step.  And keeping in touch is what actually makes it count.

When you get a person’s card, follow up with a handwritten note (or at least an email).  Let them know the next time you’re in town.  Depending who they are, ask them to lunch or for an informational interview.  Experience never hurts and it’s a good way to make bonds and remain memorable to the person you’re networking with.

Next time you go to say “Hi,” try taking it a step further.  Start a real conversation and keep in touch.  It’ll make networking much more worthwhile.

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bookLooking for a new job search tool? We’ve got just the thing.

From the editors at CareerBuilder comes CAREER BUILDING: Your Total Handbook for Finding a Job and Making it Work, a no-nonsense handbook that tells workers of all ages and all stages of their careers everything you need to know about landing a great job and navigating through the workplace. 

Expanding on CareerBuilder’s most popular articles, CAREER BUILDING is filled with insightful statistics and advice from top experts on making yourself indispensable as a candidate or employee.

Take a look inside the book here.

(more…)

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The work of finding work

The idea that finding a job is its own full-time job is nothing new. Until recently most students and graduates hadn’t experienced that adage firsthand. Now, people of all ages are aware of the hard work needed to find a job–whether or not they want to.

This article on MSNBC describes a visit to a recent University of Illinois job fair. Not surprisingly, the job seekers outnumbered the employers by a wide margin.

One job seeker explained how long this process is taking him:

Joshua London graduated from the University of Wisconsin in December. “I’ve been applying for four to five months. I’ve probably applied for 300 to 400 positions and I spend six hours a day online applying and handing out my resume. It’s tough. I make a little money on the side, but finding a full-time job is very hard for a college student,” he said.

That’s not to say everyone will have the same experience, but as you enter the working world, realize that you’re up against many people looking for these jobs, too. The lesson?Be as prepared and motivated as they are.

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For sports fans and latent gamblers, March Madness is in full force. Talk of brackets and pools can be heard everywhere you go. And for anyone not in the basketball know, you can’t escape the madness even if you want to. Not even at work. Nearly one-in-five workers (18 percent) said they have participated in March Madness pools at work, according to CareerBuilder’s annual survey conducted among more than 8,000 workers between November 12 and December 1, 2008.

Men are more likely to get in on March Madness in the office than women. Twenty-four percent of male workers said they have participated in March Madness pools in the office, compared to 11 percent of females.

More workers in the Midwest have played March Madness brackets than any other region. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of workers in the Midwest said they have bet on a March Madness pool at work, compared to 18 percent in the Northeast, 16 percent in the South and 15 percent in the West.

March Madness isn’t the only reason workers are signing up for office pools. Workers also reported the most unusual office pools they’ve placed bets on:

  • How far the Dow Jones would drop that week.
  • Number of emails new manager would send in one day.
  • Who in the office would win a burrito eating contest.
  • When the gigantic snow pile in the parking lot would melt.
  • Co-workers’ cholesterol numbers.
  • When the building would be condemned.
  • How long it would take for someone to break up.
  • Who would be the next Pope.

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On Monday  you read Morgan’s post-graduation plans. Today, we continue with Tierney’s.

To refresh your memory, we’re discussing where you’ll live once you’re out of school. So many factors play into relocating (or not relocating) that no one answer works for everybody.

Tierney has a different view than Morgan did:

cbtierneyI’ve never felt the pull to the big city like many other professional journalists. The Cedar Rapids Gazette offers me the same thing The New York Times does: the opportunity to write for a newspaper. Although, due to recent cuts in the industry, being employed by either is equally attainable.

Working jobs at big name magazines and newspapers has been glamorized by the media through TV and movies, but they are rarely ever as they seem.

My plans involve staying in the Midwest. Whether it’s Iowa, Wisconsin or Illinois, all are options for my employment opportunities. Chicago has several outstanding area newspapers-along with thousands of other opportunities–and Des Moines is home to the Meredith Corporation–which owns publications like Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, Parents and Fitness. I feel the Midwest has just as much to offer me as anywhere else in the continental US.

But it does have one thing no where else has–my family. While staying close to family holds no bearing on some, for me it has been and always will be infinitely important.  It is not an obstacle for me to overcome; rather it is a choice I decided on a long time ago. Luckily for me, I have family spread throughout Iowa and Wisconsin, but my search parameters are mostly focused in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago.

Searching for jobs the past few months has assured me that there are still several opportunities for aspiring journalists throughout the United States. But my plans still involve staying in the Midwest. Having no desire to move back to the town I grew up in stems primarily from the size of the community. I would prefer to live in a city big enough to have a movie theater and a mall, both things my childhood hometown lacks.

While venturing to a completely new city is something I’d definitely like to do in my lifetime, I doubt it is something my first job out of college will allow. I’m not really counting on any one prospect; instead I am open to a wide array of opportunities. This economy has forced me to be.

At this point I am willing to take any job that offers me a full-time position in the field of journalism, communications or marketing. Where each may take me I am not quite sure. The only thing I do know is nothing will take me too far from the ones I love.

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