How small businesses could save your career after graduation

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As students, we face many challenges. Not only do we need to focus on our education, we also need to look to the future. That future doesn’t always look so bright. According to NACE’s Job Outlook 2013 survey, employers do expect to hire 12.2 percent more new college graduates from the graduating class of 2013. However,  the increase helps only so much. Eight percent of employers are still planning to hire fewer graduates in the future, and that’s the lowest number seen since 2007.
With the economy the way it is now, you would hope students would understand why our professors are pushing us to consider other options. They’re making a point to show us other options, pushing us to consider what jobs are actually available and teaching us how to cater ourselves toward those jobs. I have spent class after class over the past few years learning just that, but not all my fellow students have exactly picked up on it.
Some students are still only considering and searching for those high-paying, high profile jobs that just aren’t practical. They require years of experience or a much too high cost of living. Often, recent grads just aren’t ready for the pressure those jobs bring.
Don’t get me wrong, I have dreams. We all do. Most of us can visualize that perfect job where you get to do the seemingly impossible, be it sitting in your own lavish office or traveling the world, working only a few hours a week, making more money than you can ever spend. But is that always practical? No. Are you going to land that job straight out of college? Probably not. And if you continue to think that way, you’re only going to disappoint yourself and eventually give up searching for jobs in general.
It sucks to fail, and after too much failure, it’s hard to pick yourself up and try again and again, especially when you realize that you’re just not good enough for the jobs you originally had in mind.
But what’s wrong with a small, community based job? I’d love to be a big fish in a small pond. If you pick something that is more realistic for you out of college, you have a much better chance to work your way up—and pretty quickly. When you’re one of few, your superiors will notice you working hard.  More often than not in a small company, that will lead to a prized promotion, that will in turn lead to another promotion, and on and on. Seemingly less significant jobs can make great stepping-stones.
After all, how nice will it be if in five years, after you’ve worked a few smaller jobs in your field and learned about the industry, you can talk about those experiences in that big-shot interview that you land? Great right? Because at that point you will be experienced and you’ll be able to show them you are. But it takes work. Nothing just happens, so take every opportunity you get.
Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door and make great interview topics when they ask why they should hire you. Sometimes opportunities aren’t going to look that great, like 3 a.m. shifts or boring, secretary-type jobs, but you never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll end up doing if they’re short one week, so don’t be afraid to take those jobs on.
But next time you are making your list of potential jobs, consider adding at least a few small, attainable jobs to that list, because you may just land them. And nothing makes you more confident than actually having a job, regardless of its grandeur.

Email:lenderson@radford.edu