Perhaps over Easter, in between chasing small children with sugar rushes across the living room and in one of those rare moments not filled by beautiful but lengthy Tridium services, one of your beloved relations asked without a trace of tact or sympathy, “So, what are your plans for this summer?” For some this is an opportunity to joyously proclaim that you found your dream job in your dream town with your dream apartment. For others it is not.
Do not let this question put you in a questionable humor. There are still many job opportunities out there and many ways you can improve your chances of one day “living the dream.” Here are some simple but tried-and-true suggestions to remember no matter where you are in the job search process.
1. Be open-minded with regards to your options. Nothing is as frustrating as seeing someone with a high potential and a wide variety of talents pigeonhole themselves into a major-related career. Understand when looking at jobs that the “preferred skills” and “preferred experience” are guidelines not barriers, and search your resumé for these hidden features (chances are you have them lurking within some previous summer job).
If you have spent money or taken money on the job you probably have something you can classify as “bookkeeping and budgeting.” If you have worked on flyers, mass-distribution emails or social media for a club or event then you have experience “marketing.” Try to really understand the relevance of the “preferred” skill and then critically examine your past experiences before writing off a job. Take some risks, work your tail off, and remind yourself with Saint Paul: “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me” (Philippians 4:13).
2. Realize that “networking” with people does not need to be synonymous with “using” people. We have a tendency at UD to write-off networking as making “friendships of utility” and nothing more. This is a horrible error, one that often leads to sad losses of opportunities.
Networking is the process of building relationships with people who have similar interests and who may have the means of mutually assisting each other to attain some higher good.
If you approach it with this attitude you will be setting yourself up for a mutually helpful and rewarding friendship, the kind that C.S. Lewis describes as being “born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…” Don’t let prejudice prevent you from finding the good in each person.
3. Enlist help from parents, teachers, friends with jobs and Career Services. One of the hardest things to do is ask for help, but, if it were shameful to turn to someone wiser for assistance, none of us would be at school. I have never been refused a request for help with a cover letter, resume or job application — whether for recommendations, leads, proofreading or just answering questions. As Shakespeare reminds us “the fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
Don’t be a fool.
4. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. [For the greater glory of God.] St. Ignatius’ fearless motto designed for the Pope’s Army works just as well for our less glamorous careers. Never forget that we are here to serve, and the people around us (whether flipping burgers, writing public policy or working through financial statements) are in desperate need of love, truth and beauty — all of which we have been given in overwhelming abundance here.
The real world can be tough, but so can you. To quote the inestimable St. Thomas More, “we cannot go to heaven in featherbeds.”