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July 5, 2018
Grads: Summer Do's and Don'ts To Land Your Dream Job
 

What I did (and didn’t do) on Summer Vacation to get the job of my life.

 

Finally, school is over, you’ve graduated, and now you can unwind and take a much-deserved rest. If your degree is in accounting, go for it. For those who want a career in advertising, you’re making an error that will take years to overcome.

 

I’ve counseled many who after experiencing the outcome of “taking a break,” struggle to find a job – any job.

 

Why? Like musical chairs, there are more players than chairs, and when the music stopped, the break takers are left without a place to sit.

 

Advertising is a tiny industry, employing only 200,000 people (in a country of 350 million). The number of positions available each year is a small percentage of that. The number of jobs you want, microscopic. Colleges and universities are graduating approximately 40,000 students a year with degrees in graphic design alone.

 

Taking a break means giving up your chance for the job that can make or break your career.

 

I get it. You’re tired. It’s been a long, hard slog. You need a break to recharge. Go ahead take one. A week should do it. The recuperative ability of the body is amazingly fast.

 

Too many are using the “I deserve a break” excuse to their own detriment. That long, hard slog had a purpose. If you disconnect for the summer with the expectation that those jobs are still going to be around, you’ll get an even more extended break. In your parent’s house, so you can hear their queries of why you haven’t gotten a job yet on a daily basis.

 

Here are three things you need to do, and three things to not do this summer after graduation if you want to start your career on the right path.

 

1.    Take a short break to re-energize. Give yourself a reward. Most people take one-week vacations to recharge. That’s all you need. Go. Have fun. Disconnect. Enjoy.

2.    Make getting the right job, your current situation. Make an office. Work there every day to get the job you really want. Start early. Quit late. You won’t be at that job long if you do.

3.    Create a job search plan in three steps: 1. Determine who is doing the work you want to be doing. 2. Align your portfolio, resume and cover letters to fit those employers. 3. Connect via email, LinkedIn, etc., and don’t give up. Cordial persistence pays off.

 

Three not to do:

 

1.    Do not get overwhelmed. All the “dos” above can make you think there isn’t enough time, primarily when the summer draws closer to the end. Chip away a little a day. Put a half-hour to an hour each day to do something for your career. Read. Learn. Contact. A little each day gets a lot accomplished.

 

2.    Do not stop contacting people that can hire you. Summer is a time when a lot of people are out. But it is also a time when things can slow down, and people have time to take a look at your work or chat with you about your interest in their company. Keep trying until someone will see you. Prepare and make a great impression. Next year, they may be interviewing you again.

 

3.    Do not think your almost finished. Entering your last year of school can tempt you to ease on your effort. Fewer classes and general malaise can cause you to coast. If you do, the ones that don’t are going to get the job you want. Use the lighter load to pour on the effort to build an impressive portfolio, prepare a job search plan and practice to nail your interviews.


 

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Bart Cleveland spent over 30 years helping grow brands like Coca-Cola, The Ritz-Carlton, and CNN. Now, he guides creative professionals to plan and execute successful careers through his business, Job Propulsion Lab℠. He also helps both agencies and marketers nurture customers into advocates through a relationship development program he calls, ACES℠. 
 
Bart launched Ad Age’s most popular blog, Small Agency Diary. He is also a contributing author of the book, The Get A Job Workshop, How To Find Your Way To A Creative Career In Advertising.

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