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Graduation and Gen Y’s job searches

June is graduation season. If you don’t have a child graduating, then you probably have a relative or good friend who does. My youngest daughter, Sophia, is graduating from high school next week, so it is top of mind for me.

Last month, I spoke to an Agricultural Marketing Class full of graduating seniors at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. What was top of mind for them? Finding a job, of course.

I told those students what I always tell the young people I mentor: It does matter WHO you know, so network, network, network! Many college graduates used to be hesitant to use a family or personal connection to get an interview at a company. But today, you have a slim chance of getting a job, if all you do is email your resume.

Except for my friend Annie, that is.

Annie is 25 years old and lives in New York City. She is the Manager of Product Development and UX lead (UX stands for User Experience Design) for an organization called Thrillist Media Group.

Thrillist bills itself as, “The free, daily email that sifts through the crap to find the best new spots to eat, drink, and shop in your ‘hood.”

So, when Sophia and I were visiting colleges in New York City this April, we asked Annie to join us for lunch. I have known Annie since she was born, as her parents are family friends and her dad is my dentist. I asked how she ended up with this job in New York City after being a lifelong Southern California girl.

“I was working for an Internet-based company in Orange County, and was bored one night. On a Thursday evening, I was checking out cool things to do locally on Thrillist and, just for the heck of it, I clicked on “Careers.” OMG – I read the job description for the Product Development Manager and said to myself, ‘This is my dream job.’

So, on a fluke, I emailed them my resume. By the next afternoon, I had already done a Skype™ interview with Human Resources and they assigned me a project so they could see my work. I emailed my project, they loved it and offered me a job. I was on an airplane that Sunday and started work on Monday!”

And that’s how it worked! Annie’s story taught me a few things:

1. Assigning a project as part of the interview is a great way to really learn about a potential employee’s work capabilities. We have done this at Frieda’s for certain positions in the past, but now we do it during a majority of our interviews.

2. You don’t always have to interview in person. It’s so expensive to fly someone cross-country to interview them. Why not use Skype™?

3. The fact that a person completes their degree is the most important thing, because you won’t always find a job in a field directly related to your studies. (Annie received her degree in Neuroscience.)

For those of you who know someone who is graduating from college, tell them they will never know where their career opportunities will come from. They need to keep their eyes open at all times!

They may find this article helpful: 20 Things Every Graduating Marketing Student Needs to Know.

And as far as my graduating senior, Sophia…after our trip to New York City, she decided she wants to go there for college. I had never heard of The New School before, but she will be attending Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts.

And I guess I will just have to Skype™ with her when I want to see her!

Happy Graduation!


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