W. P. Carey Alumni Share 6 Things to Focus On When Looking for Your First Job

We asked W. P. Carey Alumni: What should students focus on when looking for their first job?

Here are the six tips they shared:

  • Discover What Excites You
  • Look for a Cultural Fit and Supportive Environment
  • Evaluate Your Direct Manager 
  • Try to Avoid Filler Jobs
  • Find a Personal Mentor
  • Outgrow Your First Role in 12–18 Months

Discover What Excites You

It is really easy to feel like you should apply and go for the job that pays the most or is with the most well-known company. It is easy to feel like you have to do something that is typical for your degree. My advice would be to focus on industries that you are passionate about and careers that you see yourself growing into! It can be easy to feel pressured by those around you, but don’t. Focus on yourself and your path—choose something that EXCITES and is going to make every day a joy.

Katie Oakes, BA Marketing and Supply Chain Management ‘18, PetSmart

Look for a Cultural Fit and Supportive Environment

That first job after graduation should be a good experience. You should find a company with a culture you enjoy and one that encourages growth. Find a mentor that can help you learn the ins and outs of the business, not just your role. You may end up working for that mentor at many companies in the future, just as I did.

Frank Steele, BS Accountancy ‘96 & MS Accountancy and Information Systems ‘06, Bank of Hope

Evaluate Your Direct Manager  

I’d strongly encourage future graduates to evaluate who they will be working for post-graduation. Look for individuals who will challenge you. As you evaluate various job opportunities, ensure you get a feel for who your direct manager will be, what their coaching style is like, how they evaluate talent on their team and what they’re aspiring to do in their career. Once you start in the role, this will play a vital part in not only your success in this role, but in future roles as well.

Chelsea Drobnick, BA Business Marketing and Communications ‘12, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment

Try to Avoid Filler Jobs

I think it’s really important that students think about where they ultimately want to be in their careers and work backwards from there. I think a lot of graduates worry about finding a job and end up in a filler job that they have zero interest in. While this is necessary for some people to do, it also creates gaps in your resume with regards to the industry that you want to join. 

For me, applicants with public relations experience are very important and as the industry changes so much, we look at current experience. If it’s something that you are passionate about, take a lower salary or get an internship in something that interests you. It will probably pay off in the end!

Erica Knight, BA Business Communication ‘11, The Knight Agency

Find a Personal Mentor

Personal mentorship should be a key area of focus for first-time graduate job seekers. Just as your family, coaches, teachers and other individuals have helped to shape the person you are today, an effective mentor in the workplace who is committed to your development will help to accelerate your career and potential. 

Having the opportunity to learn as much as possible early on in your career, from mentors who are vested in your career development, can pay long-term dividends for your career. There is no substitute for knowledge and experience, and in this constantly changing world, knowledge will continue to be power in the workplace. Do not discount the long-term benefits of being mentored and trained by a mentor, and look for jobs which provide you the opportunity to be mentored.

Zach Abdorrahimzadeh, MS Finance ‘14 & MBA Finance ‘19, Cadence Education

Outgrow Your First Role in 12–18 Months

Your first job is a building block for your future. If you know the career direction you’d like to pursue, find a company and a role that has a specific cadence for advancement and promotions—where your first role will lead to your second. If you don’t have a clue about the industry or roles, there are programs where a new hire is rotated through multiple roles, each lasting 9–12 months.

Leon Vanshelbaum, BS Business Management ‘99, Paramount

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By W. P. Carey Career Services Center
W. P. Carey Career Services Center