During the month of September, I had the opportunity to connect with several young professionals (from our Niche List subscribers to college students) and pass along valuable career advice that I have found myself consistently sharing over the last two years. Before I share a few pieces of this advice, I'd like to spend 60 seconds highlighting the last two years of this amazing journey. Side note: I mention two years, because today is a BIG DAY - it is the The Niche Movement's two year anniversary!
Not only are we celebrating our two year anniversary, but I recently left my full time job at Rutgers University and 8 year stint working in student affairs to pursue and build out the The Niche Movement and my digital storytelling business full time, while my wife and I move to the DC area later this month. I am so excited to see this passion project turn into a true community to help others find the work they love.
Here are a few highlights and wins:
- To date, we have 15 talented contributing editors sharing their journey since college and on-going career advice to help others navigate this thing we called the "real-world."
- This summer, we were featured on Buzzfeed, Money Under 30, Gen Twenty, and had several other press opportunities.
- After launching our Kickstarter campaign, we were overwhelmed by the 80+ contributors that helped us exceed our funding goal to write our first book The Niche Movement: New Rules to Finding the Career Path You Love. (anticipated release January 2015)
- We have delivered workshops and keynotes to schools and organizations all over including Steven's Tech, University of Illinois - American Disabilities Association, and The Jersey Alliance to name a few.
- I have personally worked with students from all over the United States and as far as the University of Calgary to the University of Puerto Rico.
- Back in February of this year, I delivered my first TEDx talk, Skip Your Career Fair, that has had more than 1,500 views.
- In later summer of 2014, we launched the Niche List, a curated weekly email of jobs and career advice for 20-somethings.
Now, onto the career advice and questions that everyone should be asking themselves.
The job search is a lonely process. If you think about it, 99% of the time you are by yourself, behind a screen (generally, late at night), scrolling through job postings, one after another. Then, when you do stumble upon a posting you love and qualified for, you spend more time and energy crafting a perfect cover letter, updating your resume and more often than not, filling out an applicant tracking system. The cycle goes on and on and when you immerse yourself back into society the next day and see your friends and family you get one of these questions "How is your job search going?" or "Did you find a job yet?". This repetitive cycle will wear down the best of us and all of the sudden a really talented young professional will start to second guess their skills, potential and calling in life.
However, before you get to this point or before you hit send on your next job application, take a few steps back and ask yourself these three questions:
Tip: The more time and thought you put into these questions, the better your outcome.
1. What are three things you would do for free?
I like to pose this question to everyone I start to work with both in one on one settings and during my speaking engagements. This is such a powerful question and requires a lot of thought, but once you start identifying a few things you love so much that you don't care about the money, you can start drilling down into specific work industries, companies, and jobs - instead of just casting a wide-net in your job search. I would also recommend that if you are so passionate about something and the job you desire isn't out there, then create it yourself. We are living in a world of limitless connection and unlimited resources at your finger tips that you can turn a passion project into a business in no time. Just note, it requires a ton of hustle, self-esteem, and perseverance.
2. What do people around you say you are really good at?
I love this question and believe that every college student should continually ask this question starting in their junior year. Any chance you have, ask your professors, supervisors, advisors, best friends, family, etc. "What do you think our my strengths?" or "What skill am I really good at?".
3. What is something you have done in the last 6-12 months that has made you feel invincible?
A student of mine shared this question with me during our 6 week Niche Discovery cohort we ran last spring and I have asked myself this question just about once a month since hearing it. It is from Scott Dinsmore's Live Your Legend site and it is so powerful. When you find something that makes you feel invincible, you will stop at nothing to achieve it. If you are applying for (or already working for) a job at a company or in an industry you are not passionate about, you are not going to have a "do whatever it takes" mentality.
No matter what stage of your career you are in, you should constantly self-evaluate by asking these questions. I'd love to hear your responses to any or all of these questions so comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.