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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Don't let your degree hold you back

July 11, 2012
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Within the last few weeks I've witnessed two young women trying to land a job. One has been successful; the other is still looking. These women don't know each other and they live in different towns. But they share many of the same traits. Both were raised in Maine, left and have now returned. Both are in their 20s, well educated and bright. I'm thrilled for this state that they're both back to stay!

What's been interesting is how each has approached her job search. Both are hoping to work in their chosen field. Both have been networking and talking with people in their industry a great strategy. But their expectations differ greatly. One has been unwilling to accept anything that she thinks is beneath her. She has passed on opportunities in her industry because they are parttime, not in her preferred community, don't pay well enough or are too entry level. She is still looking. The other young woman interviewed for a number of positions and was even willing to accept an internship (not a job) with a company because she wanted to get her foot in the door. By the end of her first day as an intern, she was offered a permanent job!

The lesson here is that if you're a recent graduate, new to a community or changing careers, you need to be willing to lower your expectations to find a job. Having an education and an advanced degree is a great thing. But if you truly want to advance in your chosen field and land your dream job - you need to be willing to pay your dues. Once you're employed in your chosen field you will make valuable contacts that will help you advance in your career. It's about whom you know rather than what.

For example, if you want to be a manager or executive in the tourism industry, even if you have a degree in that industry you still need to be willing to work the front desk, clean rooms and wait tables to gain the experience and contacts necessary to advance. I know from personal experience that working your way up only makes you better when you do advance to a leadership position. The best managers are those who have 'been there, done that' and understand every aspect of an operation and what their employees are going through. Work hard and you'll catch the attention of the higher-ups and move up!

My dad gave me the best advice when I graduated from college the same advice he gave to countless of graduates as a professor at Bucknell University. He said, 'Don't wait for the perfect job take any job, and that will lead you to the perfect job.' In hindsight, he was probably trying to ensure that I would leave the nest and not boomerang home! But he was right. In fact, some of the jobs I've been fortunate to have didn't even exist when I graduated from college.

So to the two young ladies I've mentioned, congratulations on the new job to one - and to the other, I hope you find a job soon. It may not be your dream job, but by taking a small step (perhaps a lower-paying step) to get your foot in the door, you'll get there!

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