Hey everyone! Thanks for checking out the seventh and final post in my How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle series. Today, we’re going to be talking about career wellness, which I’m surprisingly passionate about! Since one’s job is such a cultural focus in the United States, I hate to see people miserable at work or unable to break into the field that they’re passionate about. I’ve only been working for four years now, but I feel like I’ve had a wide variety of experiences that have taught me valuable lessons. So for all of you fresh to the workforce, here are my favorite tips:
Internships get your foot in the door to difficult industries.
Let me be clear- I think that not getting paid to work is the absolute worst. But the truth is that it’s part of our current American work culture, so we can’t ignore it. There are so many recent college grads who are willing to to work an unpaid internship to get experience that you likely can’t afford to stand up against the injustice. Lots of industries are highly competitive, so you probably won’t get a paid job in them unless you’ve had internships beforehand. Every industry I’ve been previously interested in is an example of this- interior design, study abroad, and event planning.
As a sophomore in college, I got a summer internship with the famous interior designer Phoebe Howard. She’s all over magazines across the US, so do you think I would be able to get a paid, entry level position without her testing me out through an internship first? Hell no! It’s the same with event planning. I only got a paid job where I was able to create $150,000 events for multinational corporations, because I’d helped (unpaid) with a bazillion events in college. Oh, you want a paid job in study abroad without an internship? Not gonna happen. I worked in study abroad planning with UGA and Harvard, and even then it’s hard to find paying jobs in the industry. There’s just so much competition in many industries!
Do some unpaid work in your industry where you live now, and save up some money. Then, when you have enough moolah to get you through a season in NYC or Boston or SF, find a really prestigious internship with a company you admire. If you perform well and get recommendations, you’ll have an awesome paid job in your dream industry in no time!
Don’t be afraid to ask for the position you want- even if it’s not posted or doesn’t exist yet.
I’d like to tell you a surprising fact. Out of the variety of jobs that I’ve had in college and after graduation, not a single one of them was listed as an open position on the company website or on any other job search engine. I didn’t find any of them using this common method, and I’ve never applied to a job through a website. Truth be told, I never formally applied to any of them at all! Here’s my method using the event planning industry as the example:
- I research online to find all of the event planning related businesses in the area and make a list. If you’re living in a city it should be a big list of about 40-60 companies.
- Check out each of their websites and read all of their information to see if it feels like a nice place to work and to see if they have a reputable portfolio of events. If the website looks like it’s from the 1990’s, I say “no” right away- they obviously have no respect for their business image.
- Once I’ve narrowed it down to the companies that I would be interested in talking to (usually 15-20 businesses in a city), I craft up an email to introduce myself to them and show my interest. In it, I briefly discuss why I’m interested in their company, my past work background, and what I could do for them. The body should be concise and broken into topical paragraphs- my email was 167 words.
- I finish off by saying something like, “If you have any job opportunities available, I would love to become part of your team. My resume is attached. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.”
- You can find the contact email for each business on their website- you just might have to search a bit. Sometimes it’s on the “about” page, or sometimes it’s on the “contact” page. If there isn’t an email to send job inquiries, I always go for the boss’s email. Use the contact form on a website only as a last resort.
- Do not send a group email! Remember to personalize it for each company and business owner you’re sending it to. You’re definitely not going to get the job if you send an email addressing the wrong event planning company!
- Proofread, attach a nice resume, and send! Good luck! :D
- You should hear back from the businesses within the next week if they have any open positions. Set up an interview from there. The most recent time I tried this method I got 5 responses saying that they had an open position. I ended up working for the company that I liked best out of the whole group!
Using this method of cold emailing companies give you an edge. When you apply through a job search engine or an open posting that the company put on their website, literally hundreds of people apply. You’d have to fight your way through a talented crowd. You have a much better chance of getting a job when it’s not being advertised. Like I said, that’s how I’ve gotten all of my jobs! Email away!
Always stand up for yourself (respectfully) in difficult work situations.
Bosses and coworkers don’t respect people that they can walk all over. This is hard to learn, but always true. Do you want to be the person who gets used and abused at work? I don’t! I can understand why people would be afraid of confronting others. We’re worried that we’ll get yelled at and make an enemy, or that we could even get fired. From my experience, as long as your stand up for yourself in a polite way, you’ll be fine.
I’m not going to say where I was working, but I will tell you that my bosses were absolutely crazy. They were judgmental and full of attitude, insulting and yelling at people in the office all day. It was a very fast paced job, but I work well under pressure. Anyway, I was given an event project to finish in 4 full days- I would have to work quickly, but I’d have the time to double check all of the budgeting so that it’s perfect for the client. On the morning of Day 2, my boss tells me that I need to have the project done in only 6 hours now, just because she wants me to work on a different project later in the day. As you could imagine, I’m frantic because that’s an impossible deadline. I do finish in time, but it’s not near the quality that I like my event proposals to have. My boss checks it over and starts badgering me about all of the tiny mistakes in it. My face is starting to boil. She finally says, “What is this? Are you stupid?” And I reply very sternly, “No, I am not stupid. If you’d allowed me the proper time required of a project this size, you know there wouldn’t be any of those mistakes. You set me up for failure.”
She apologized and didn’t say much the rest of the day- like she was embarrassed. But after that, she treated me with much more kindness and respect. I later learned from other employees who’d been there longer than me that she preys on people who show themselves to be weak. Apparently, she made one woman cry everyday until she quit. I could have just taken all the blame and said to her, “I’m sorry for the mistakes ma’am… I’ll be better next time.” But the fact that I stood up to her unfairness is what made her respect and like me. She actually loved me after that day- I soon asked for a raise and to be able to work from home most days, and she said “yes” to both requests! Don’t be afraid to stand up to injustice in the office. Your boss may be surprised that you took a stand, but that shock almost always turns into respect.
Tip: If you want a raise or some other major improvement in your job, you have to have confidence. If they refuse to give you what you want, you need to be prepared to give your two weeks notice. If you stay there, why would they ever give you a raise? You just showed that you’d stay without one! Your power is now gone.
If the job doesn’t feel right for your soul, change it.
Everyone has their own worldview, and in mine, I believe that we don’t have to suffer unnecessarily in our careers. If you hate your job, please save up some money, figure out your new plan, and then quit. I’m tired of people in the US saying that they have to stay in their terrible, soul-sucking job in order to support their family (or other excuse). That’s almost always a cop-out. There are single mothers all across the US right now getting a college degree in their passion subject while also working and raising a child. You think you have less time than them?! No, you don’t. You just don’t want to reach your dreams as much. They are working so hard because they want to make their goals and passions a priority.
So question yourself- if you’re feeling blocked to go towards your dream career, what is the real reason? Are you afraid to fail? Worried it will be too challenging? Scared of what people will say about you? Upset that you’ll have to change your lifestyle? Be honest with yourself about what’s stopping you. It will be hard, but it’ll be worth it. Make your job happiness a priority. And if there isn’t a job that suits your passions, create a new one for yourself!
There you have it- a little tough love for all of us Millennials. The truth is, I want everyone to feel satisfied with their lives and careers. I believe it’s entirely possible and hope that you’re gutsy enough to believe that too. So get out there and make a happy life for yourself. It’s all in your hands! Do you have any career advice or job experiences that you’d like to share? What is your dream job? Please share in the comments. We’d love to know! :)
Enjoy the rest of your week,