There are many roads to landing that “dream” job. I took a couple of different routes before arriving at my destination. Today, I am a graphic designer at a research and advisory firm. It’s a role that I love but getting here was not easy.
As I moved from temp job to job, I learned many things about myself as well as the world of work. Much of that can apply to other millennials and can benefit them as they navigate the employment waters. Staffing firms, too, can learn from this insight into the mindset of millennials.
Stay true to what you like. I am a self-taught graphic designer. But throughout high school and even college, I viewed it as a hobby. I didn’t take into account how much I liked it despite the fact that several jobs I have gone through had some aspect — however small — of graphic design. I even worked as a contractor for smaller design projects on the side. I might have landed my dream role sooner had I included this love into my searches.
Be honest. As I was trying to find the job that worked for me, I realized a couple of things. It wasn’t just about enjoying graphic design. It was about graphic design being my creative outlet. I needed to stay with it to feel complete while developing my skills further. Yet, at that stage, none of my jobs were heavily focused on graphic design. After much introspection, I realized that I had to give up on jobs that didn’t work for me and keep looking for the one that fits.
School is not for everybody. I went to college for three years, never quite settling on a major. I tried computer science, but it just wasn’t for me. Nothing else seemed to hold much appeal either. I came to realize that I learn by doing real-life projects and teaching myself through online resources. I didn’t finish college because I had an opportunity to work for a startup. Then I gained experience by working and building up my portfolio.
Don’t give up. I gravitated toward jobs that required my graphic design and web developer skills. People don’t ask graphic designers for their degree, they want to see their portfolio. Job-hunting took about three to five months. I never stopped looking for jobs that piqued my interest and skills. I applied to many jobs, went through some phone interviews, and very rarely got on-site interviews.
Staffing firms are not all bad. Initially, I avoided staffing agencies. It wasn’t that I had a bad experience with them; it’s just that they have a bad rap among us millennials. But when I finally found a full-time job — and what I was looking for — it was through a staffing firm.
They interviewed me and got to know more of what I do and all the various skills I’ve acquired over the years. The recruiter worked with me to gain an understanding of my skill sets and preferences through various conversations. The process was straightforward. It also helped that I had gone through a couple of jobs and was clearer about what I wanted. Then, after about a month, the recruiter had found a job that she thought would be a good fit, and helped me prepare for the interviews. Within a week, I had done both phone and onsite interviews, and soon received an offer from the hiring client.
Sometimes, staffing firms don’t realize that the millennial generation is its own breed. It would be great if we could tap staffing firms for help on how to navigate this job market. But do it in a way that works for both sides.