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Making the transition from college to the world of work.

THE BLACK COLLEGIAN's Career Planning and Job Search Guide 1992-93

This four-part guide examines the career and job search process from four major stages: 1) initial self-assessment and constructing an effective resume, 2) preparing for and excelling at on-campus interviews, 3) excelling at the on-site interview and accepting job offers, and 4) making the transition from college to the world of work.

In Part IV, we will examine four strategies you should consider in making the transition from college to the world of work. These strategies are essential for those of you who are about to embark on one of the most exciting journeys of your life--your first full-time job in the workplace. These strategies range from recognizing the realities and stresses of the work-world and managing your relationship with your supervisor to wading through the corporate maze and mastering office politics.

For those of you who may not have landed a job because of the continuing tight job market, we will provide advice on how to maintain your momentum and keep a positive attitude while you continue your search. We recognize that this is a trying time for you; however the major point for you to keep in mind is that there IS a position out there with your name on it! Regrettably, it is taking a little longer for you to find it. By keeping in mind that nothing works better than stamina and persistence, you will soon be successful in getting the job you desire.

If you keep these thoughts uppermost in your mind and review the strategies in Parts I - Part III of this guide, you also will soon be among the ranks of those making the transition from college to the world of work. For those who are now employed as well as those still searching, consider the following strategies in your journey to success.

Strategy #1 -- "How to Jump Start" Your Job Search If You Are Still Waiting for a Job Offer

Just like a battery that is run down and needs charging, not landing the job you want is bound to run down your energy level as well as your outlook on the future. A pile of rejection letters and unproductive interviews can cause anxiety and depression in anyone. You can "jump start" your job search the way you charge a car battery. Do this by assessing the possible reasons for rejection, refocusing your goals and getting yourself going again. Consider the following tips for "jump starting" your search.

First, deal with your feelings of rejection in a straightforward manner. Recognize that no matter how positive or creative you are advised to be, you are bound to be sad and depressed at not landing a position when others in your graduation class are starting to work. These feelings are natural! Live with them, but don't drown in them. You must remember to keep your confidence level up and market yourself to as many employers as possible. This is the only way that a position will be yours. Relax and refocus your efforts! Don't be paralyzed by the trauma of not landing the job you want. Take the pressure off yourself and make the process of landing the job you want a productive one. Begin noticing what causes you increased stress levels and find time for prayer, meditation, and exercise daily.

Second, there are a number of things you can do while you're between jobs. One is to consider temporary work. Carolyn Daniels, currently employed with Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, and a part-time training consultant with a major health care establishment in Chicago, reports that when she graduated from college she envisioned great things as she marched in her baccalaureate commencement exercises. "From that very moment I possessed a desire to take on the corporate world like a mountain climber. While sugarplums danced in my head, the reality of my unemployment brought shudders to my soul. Although my job search had been intensive, I realized that I had concentrated more on completing my academic program over going on campus interviews. However, I refused to sit idly by and, in discussing my plight, a friend of mine suggested that I enter into the world of temporary work. I registered with several agencies and pretty soon I had varied assignments ranging from real estate, to law establishments, to a major retail firm. Some were of short duration and my longest assignment lasted six months. By working in the temporary industry I was able to meet financial obligations and, furthermore, my self-esteem was in tact. Temporary work allowed me to pay my bills and to interact with interesting people, gain experience in computers, handle multiple projects, become familiar with several industries, and work with a diverse population. On the days when I had no assignments, I began to substitute teach. Eventually, I was hired in training and development at the colleges on a temporary basis. In this department my skills grew and I gained knowledge of new employee orientation, total quality management, customer service, techniques, and the importance of time management. I interfaced with a wide range of employees within the institution. Through this assignment I was able to develop and strengthen my writing and coordinating skills. The office was nestled in the human resources department, which brought about increased knowledge of other human resources areas: personnel, benefits, compensation, and labor/unions, etc. I also began to work with the outside consultant of implementing the Drug-Free workplace act, sexual harassment, and other H. R. initiatives. I found that while college prepared me academically for such an integral challenge, temporary work offered me a real view of the work world. When asked what advice I would give to unemployed graduates, I'd offer the following tips, which were of tremendous help to me:

* Be aware of your skills.

* Have solid job search techniques.

* Define your expectations and desires in a position.

* Be creative

* Seek support from mentors, peers, family, and friends.

* Practice patience and tolerance.

* Keep the faith; practice your faith.

* Seize opportunities through temporary work.

Part-time opportunities may lead to full-time rewards; what appears limited may actually develop into a profitable situation.

In reviewing temporary employment, you may find that there are additional options for you to consider. These include working a part-time or evening position so that you can leave your days open for your job search. Review all your options and consider the one that best fits your personal needs.

Third, develop an action plan for "jump starting" your job search. Review your resume and career objective. Do background research on the companies you wish to pursue. Maintain a log of the companies, including names, titles, addresses, and phone numbers. Reactivate your network of contacts. Don't forget friends, instructors, relatives, and others who may know of job leads. Attend meetings and set up informational interviews whenever possible. Don't overlook the traditional job sources such as your college placement office, campus recruiters, newspaper advertisement, and employment offices. Review your job search strategy including your resume, cover letters, and interview techniquest. Review the steps you utilized in your initial job search and those outlined in Parts I, II and III of this series (refer to September/October 1992, November/December 1992, and January/February 1993 issues). Also refer to the career planning charts at the end of each article in the series. Continue to check with your network contacts, follow up on job interviews and leads, register with THE JOB FINDER, and get a copy of THE BLACK COLLEGIAN's Supplement Job Opportunities '93. Establish a list of first and second choice prospects and go after them diligently. The next area we will focus on is reviewing your cover letters and resumes.

Your cover letter is designed to communicate a message which sells the employer on your skills and generates enough interest for a personal interview. Spend some time refining your cover letters and make sure that they are targeted for each employer and position of interest. Be sure to send your resume and cover letter inquiries to first-choice prospects from the company profiles and research you have developed. Your cover letters should be as professionally polished as possible. They should be typewritten and proofread for possible typographical letters. In today's economy, recruiters have very little time for lengthy correspondence. Therefore, limit your cover letter and resume to no more than one page, if possible.

Your cover letter should include three paragraphs. The first is an introductory one indicating why you are writing the company, i.e., you read a newspaper advertisement, were referred by someone, etc. The second paragraph should explain what you have to offer the company in relation to your skills, education, and relevant experience. The third and closing paragraph should ask for action from the employer. Ask for an interview to meet to further discuss your interest in the employer and a position with the firm. You may suggest a date and time or indicate that you will follow up with a telephone call within a certain period. Close your letter cordially and include a telephone number where you may be reached.

Strategy #2 -- World Work Realities: Guerrilla Tactics for Your First Months on Your New Job

We cannot overstate the importance of your first job. You need to know what to expect as well as be prepared for some surprises which will be in store for you. These are both pleasant and unpleasant surprises. While colleges equip you with the academic preparation, most individuals do not recognize that the work-world is like a jungle. You need to have an awareness of its competitive nature as well as develop some guerrilla tactics so that you survive and thrive in it. It's also important for you to understand that looking the part, your image, dress, and appearance, is a key essential.

Your first position is a steppingstone to future career success. With your college years out of the way, you now need to look at your future and assess how you want work to fit into your life plan. Remember to keep all things in perspective and recognize the importance of balance. While you want to earn a reasonable salary, progress rapidly in your field, and impress your manager, at the same time you also need to achieve a balance in your personal life. To help achieve this balance, sit down and write out your goals, both personal and professional. Now is not too soon to develop your first "five year plan." Where do you actually see yourself in five years? Look at this in terms of not only your position, salary, and additional education you may wish to pursue, but also marriage, family, and lifestyle issues. If you don't take the time to do this now, you may look up and find that five years have swiftly passed.

In quickly tackling your new job responsibilities, you need to expect and understand that there will be a natural period of anxiety and frustration during the first months on the job. You have requisite skills that the organization needs, otherwise you would not have been selected for the position. Expect that you will have to be productive and perform at your optimum level. Understand that employers want employees who are willing to do not only what is required of them, but occasionally what is above and beyond the call of duty. Having a positive attitude and self-confidence will go a long way in helping you adjust to your new job and environment.

Now to the surprises. What may surprise you is that you are the master of your fate. Your college curriculum was pretty prescribed. You knew what classes to take, what was required for a passing grade, and there was help available if you ran into trouble. The work world doesn't offer such and exact blueprint for success. You are responsible for learning what it takes to be successful and implementing a plan to get you there. Generally, people do not plan to fail, they just fail to plan. At all times, you want to ensure your personal success. The individual most involved in your life and its success should be YOU! Your career development and success are dependent on the goals you set, the help you get when you are having difficulties, and your persisting despite overwhelming odds.

Your image, dress, and appearance should reflect a positive self-assured business-like demeanor. Your wardrobe should fit your work environment. Look around you and notice how others at your level dress, as well as those at the upper levels of your company. You do not have to spend a fortune to update your wardrobe. Purchase what you can afford and add to your wardrobe as your budget permits. Your personal "style" will eventually evolve and those around you will begin to notice how you present yourself.

The importance of work standards and a personal mission must be addressed. You need to set your standards higher than what is expected. By doing this, if you fall short you will hopefully land near or at the required goals. Produce more and better than what is expected of you. Given today's economic reality, companies are calling upon employees to do more than what their job descriptions reflect. Be visible and available. Doing so will pay off in the long run.

Strategy #3 -- Managing Your Relationship with Your Manager--What's Expected of You and How to Enhance Your Performance

Your manager expects you to be a productive team member. What's expected of you is that you impact the bottom line through providing a service or delivering a product. During your orientation period, remember to use the first important tool in managing your relationship with your supervisor. This tool is communication. Strong oral and written communication will be key to your success. Secure a copy of your job description and get a clarification of your manager's expectations during your first six to twelve months on the job. Your major focus should be on learning your supervisor's management style and how he or she interacts with staff. Managers are looking for "take charge" people, and a major advantage for you will be communicating effectively with your supervisor and your team members. Perfect a confident speaking manner with a steady voice, firm tone, and direct directly. Learn your supervisor's preferred operating style: written updates through memos correspondence or verbal meetings. Package your responses based on what you are able to learn about your manager's style.

Meetings with your supervisor periodically will enable you to discuss your priorities as well as your progress. Find out what schedule your supervisor feels is appropriate. Clarify your job description and performance expectations. Find out how your job description fits in with your department and corporate objectives. Be clear on what your manager expects for success. This includes the following three points: 1) what your manager defines as successful performance, 2) how your success will be measured and, 3) what the time frames for completion include and when each output is due. Put these items in writing, including any commitments your manager has made to help you achieve your goals. Ask for feedback and be prepared to live up to your performance requirements and supervisor's expectations.

Secure information on your company's performance appraisal system. Find out what instrument will be used to evaluate you and at what intervals this evaluation will occur. Decide on your short-term goals as well as long-term priorities based on this information. Develop action plans to meet the goals you set. Keep a list of significant accomplishments as they occur. This will enable you to refer to them during the year and leading up to your performance review date.

Concentrate on your work. Minimize distractions as much as possible and avoid interruptions which keep you from completing your work assignments. These include lengthy personal telephone calls--either the ones you might place or friends calling you and visitors (expected or unexpected). Set realistic deadlines for yourself and practice effective time management skills daily. Break your work down into manageable tasks and work on the most important ones first. Keep a "TO DO" list in your date planner or on your desk to help you keep track of your daily action items. Include all upcoming meetings and deadlines on a central calendar to facilitate planning and meeting deadlines.

Self-promotions and visibility are very important. Don't hesitate to take on major projects. Stretch well beyond your job description. People who do more than is expected generally get noticed. Those who don't become stagnant and are bypassed for promotional opportunities. Evaluate your skills and accomplishments. Keep a record of your performance appraisals, projects, letters of commendation, and other information which reflect favorably upon your skills. Remember to update your resume with accomplishment statements when you have the opportunity. Because you are interested in your career, you will want to have an updated resume and be prepared when a promotional opportunity--either inside or outside your company--presents itself.

Take advantage of career development opportunities offered by your company. Secure information from your training and development department on company-sponsored seminars and workshops. These activities are generally designed to enhance your skills on the job. Read professional journals, business periodicals, trade publications, and the business section of your local newspaper. Keep abreast of information that affects you and your career success. Doing so will give you a well-rounded focus and allow you to stay on top of your area of expertise. Continue to examine your personal career strengths. Sit down and periodically reassess your skills and abilities, your accomplishments, and areas needing improvement. Be alert to opportunities to gain information from others. Often constructive criticism allows us the opportunity to grow. Remember that you can always turn negatives into positive if you look at the situation in the proper light.

Strategy #4 -- You'll Never Win.. Until You Learn How to Play the Game--The Importance of Mastering Office Politics and Wading Through the Corporate Maze

Every organization has its winners and losers--those who climb the corporate ladder successfully, and those who fade along the way. The winners make it because they learn how to play the corporate game. They recognize the importance of combining performance on the job with the skills they have gained through political savvy. Your job also is to learn how to play the game to your best advantage.

Your supervisor's role is one of maximizing resources, material resources as well as the people who work for your department. Managers also are charged with creating a climate for a groups' resources to grow in value and use. You should be aware of the general categories of management and how they impact your job. Secure a copy of your company's organization chart. Designed to show the chief executive officer and downward, the chart will show you the "pecking order." At the top is top management. This group provides policy and communicates to middle management about long-range plans, targets, budgets, and new directions. Middle management consists of group leaders responsible for carrying out and implementing decisions of top management. They are charged with interpreting policies and long-range goals and converting them into instructions.

Determine where your supervisor falls in your organizational hierarchy. Look around and see who the "movers and shakers" are and where the seat of power rests within your company. Don't overlook the political structure. It is important for you to know who reports to whom, your level in this hierarchy, and how African Americans are treated at your company. Develop a political savvy for conflicts or issues which may be related more to office politics than to anything related to your technical abilities. If possible, find a mentor--someone inside or outside the organization--who will give you real help and support when you need it. Develop a good and close relationship with this person and discuss any problems you may experience. If there is a support group or network within or outside your company, become an active participant. Attendance at meetings will allow you to talk things out with people who have experiences similar to your own. They will be able to take away feelings of isolation and frustration. Continue to use any role models you have developed over the years to support you and your career goals.

Recognize the importance of how you interact with others. Make a good impression by getting along with everyone. Key for you to remember is how you are perceived by those in your work environment. How do other managers in related departments see you? Ask questions. If there is something that you don't know, feel comfortable asking someone who does. Be visible. Go to lunch with people you work with, listen to what they talk about, and read company newsletters to keep you abreast of happenings. Soak up as much information as you can. The professionalism you project now will make a lasting impression for months to come. Keep in mind that results are generally due to department and individual efforts. Strive to remain an effective team player.

The transition from college to the world of work is an exciting time in your life. We are hopeful that you will master the strategies presented, which have included reactivating your job search if you are still job hunting and handling work-world realities if you have been lucky to find a job. Here's to your moving upward or onward to better career opportunities. As you move ahead in your career, remember to reach back and help someone else who is striving on his or her career path. We're all in this together, and you have not reached where you are by your effort alone. Reach back and help whenever and wherever you can. And much success in you career endeavors!

Chris B. Bardwell is contributing editor to THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Magazine and president of The Career Connection, a career development and training organization based in Chicago, IL. For additional information on the services of The Career Connection, call or write: The Career Connection, 155 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60601, (312) 856-2123. Job Search and Career Planning Guide 1992-1993.

THE BLACK COLLEGIAN'S Job Search and Career Planning Guide 1992-1993 ANNUAL PLANNING CHART

YEAR 1 - FRESHMAN YEAR: Self-Assessment and Career Planning Activities

Collect, analyze, and evaluate information about yourself to aid you in obtaining a career position consistent with your personality, abilities, aptitudes, values, interests, academic training, past work, and life experiences.

Enlist the aid of faculty, advisors, counselors, administrators and friends. Review various career and business publications. Consider and use exercises, projects, psychological tests, and other ways to determine your career interests.

Create your personal career planning, personal development, and job-search log book. Insert your career-planning exercises, notes on short-term and long-term career goals, and other notes regarding your progress into your log on a regular basis.

Write the answers to the following four key questions:

What do I want to do?

What can I do?

What do I need to do to develop myself further?

How can I get the job I want after graduation?

Summer Vacation After Freshman Year

Get a summer job; earn expenses.

Gain work experience and develop a strong business and work ethic.

Develop maturity; ability to function in a work environment and get along with people.


Career Exploration and Investigation Activities

Develop a file of information about specific career alternatives and narrow your potential career options down.

Develop an array of information about specific careers.

Collect information about types of opportunities in managerial, technical, and professional career areas.

Accumulate and analyze information about the world of work, office politics, corporate culture, and workforce diversity.

Develop your resume, make contact lists, prepare cover letter formats, and investigate various job search strategies.

Write the answers to the following three key questions:

What do I have to offer an employer?

Who needs what I have to offer?

How do I make them want me?

Summer Vacation After Sophomore Year

Get a summer job; continue to earn expenses and build a good work reputation and work references.

Develop job-related and computer skills.

Develop maturity and knowledge of the workplace.

YEAR 3 - JUNIOR YEAR: Gaining Career Experiences

Test your qualifications for work in your chosen career field.

Consult with faculty, counselors, and administrators; join organizations in your chosen field.

Check with career planning and placement for on-campus interview schedules and employer listings.

Review and update your resume and job-search correspondence.

Practice your interview skills. Plan your job-search campaign.

Enroll in a career-planning course. Attend workshops on resumes, cover letters, and the interview process.

Review alternative career plans.

Begin internship experiences, field or clinical experience, if possible.

Summer Vacation After Junior Year

Get a summer job in your chosen field; continue to earn expenses and build a good work reputation.

Develop job-related and computer skills, if possible.

Develop maturity and knowledge of the workplace.

Compile inventory of interests and qualifications as they relate to your career objective.

YEAR 4 - SENIOR YEAR: Job Search/Transition To Work Activities

Put your job search campaign into high gear; conduct a thorough job-search campaign.

Schedule interviews on campus and on-site with as many employers as possible.

Discuss career opportunities with faculty and counselors, friends, acquaintances, network contacts, etc.

Use THE BLACK COLLEGIAN's Job Index to identify those companies and organizations actively recruiting job candidates.

Read the recruitment ads and the job index listings in the JASS section to identify those employers recruiting in your major.

Register with THE JOB FINDER.

Get a copy of THE BLACK COLLEGIAN's Supplement, Job Opportunities '93.

Keep your career planning log updated with interview results, assessments of how you performed during job interviews, and contacts made.

Consider and review various job offers.

Accept the job that best fits your career and professional needs.

Develop a log of areas to address in making your transition from college to the world of work.

Make a successful transition. Perform efficiently, learn the corporate culture and rules, and move up!

Role Model Profiles

Michael K. Coulter Air Traffic Controller Assistant Federal Aviation Administration Farmington, Minnesota

Michael Coulter is an air traffic controller assistant in the initial stages of job training. His duties include understanding Minneapolis' central airspace and the complexities of Flight Progress Strips (distribution and processing).

In 1989, after receiving a bachelor's degree in religious studies from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, Coulter worked as a bus operator for the Chicago Transit Authority, then moved to Minnesota and was employed by Pitney Bowes as a sales representative. After numerous sales and instructor positions, Coulter attended the air traffic controller program at Minnesota Technical College and now works for the FAA.

At present, Coulter's main objective is to successfully complete his training as an air traffic controller and reach full performance status. He would also like to be involved in a number of FAA-sponsored groups such as the Cultural Diversity and Mentorship programs, both of which help people adapt to new surroundings.

Keys to success: "Always place yourself in positions of opportunity, because having an aspiring attitude is the first step to achievement. Students should commit 100 percent to any task, a percentage which entails remaining focused for the duration, because the hard work does eventually lead to reward."

For information about the Minnesota Air Traffic Control Training Program, call 1-800-475-2828.

David Grandison, M.D., Ph.D. Director, Worldwide Medical Affairs The DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company

As Director of Worldwide Medical Affairs, Grandison serves as medical advisor on all marketed products and directs research and development on marketed products. He also reviews and approves adverse event reporting on marketed drugs to appropriate government agencies and is advisor for package labeling, advertising, promotional, and educational material on marketed products.

In 1966, Grandison received a BA in biology from Oakwood College and, in 1969, a master's in biology from Andrews University. Subsequently, he attended Wayne State University where he earned a PhD in cardiovascular physiology in 1974, and Michigan State where he obtained an MD in 1980.

Before joining DuPont, Grandison served as assistant medical director for the city of Detroit, director of Cardiology Medical Research for Bristol Meyers Company and group director of Cardiology Medical Research for DuPont.

Over the course of his career, Grandison has several outstanding accomplishments, including the conception and construction of clinical development plans and protocols, the implementation of global clinical cardiovascular research for new cardiovascular drugs, and preparing and submitting New Drug Applications to the FDA. His long-term goals are to provide leadership, management and scientific expertise that will enable the DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company to achieve its corporate goal as a multicultural, multinational business and to offer leadership and support for health care programs designed to improve community health.

Calvin Page Pharmacist/Assistant Manager (Pharmacist-in-Charge) SuperX Drugs Westfield, NJ

In his position as pharmacist-in-charge/assistant manager, Calvin Page is responsible for supervising personnel in the pharmacy department, maintaining accurate records of all medication received and dispensed, ensuring that prescriptions are filled properly, and maintaining the security of the prescription area and its contents.

Page earned his BS in pharmacy from Duquesne University and has 18 years experience as a chain store pharmacist and as a front-of-store manager.

Page's goal is to increase his knowledge through continuing education in order to keep abreast of the changing concepts in pharmacy practice.
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Title Annotation:The Black Collegian's Career Planning and Job Search Guide, part 4; includes related articles
Author:Bardwell, Chris B.
Publication:The Black Collegian
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Previous Article:Discovering the hidden job market.
Next Article:Job market still tight ... but, light at the end of the tunnel? The Black Collegian's industry by industry assessment of the job outlook for the...

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