Following graduation from an Ivy League university next month, one of our Early Stage Careers clients will move to New York City and begin her career in the eCommerce space. “I will be running a line of products. I will get the autonomy I wanted; the vibe I wanted, but still have the structure of a Fortune 500 company.”
During a recent interview, she shared her personal journey and the challenges she faced while seeking the right opportunity; and how Early Stage Careers (ESC) helped her limit her stress, keep her focus and eventually reach success.
What were some of the most challenging aspects of searching for an internship and job and how did Early Stage Career’s process help you build skills and confidence?
Because I am at a liberal arts university, Career Services is not helpful in figuring out career options outside of the obvious, like finance and consulting. It’s hard to find out what to do, how to start.
ESC helped me to realize the benefits of a liberal arts education. I felt like I was not on the same playing field as others with pre-professional degrees. I really learned how to present the benefits of my liberal arts background in a positive way for potential employers. Through the interview prep process provided by ESC, I was able to make it clear why, as a liberal arts major, I could compete against those with pre-professional degrees. I was reminded of the critical soft skills I was bringing and stopped apologizing for my liberal arts degree. One of the main things I learned from the interview prep was being able to talk about my relevant experiences and what I’m bringing to the job, what I don’t know, and figuring out the best way to articulate that.
The regularity of calls from ESC really helped. It forced me to work on job stuff and a lot came out of my interview prep. ESC stopped me from applying for jobs I would hate. They would say, “The fact is that you’re going to get a job.” I was forced to set timelines and look at certain industries. ESC could say with authority, “It’s not time to freak out about (not finding) a job yet!” I left the worrying to them. They explained it has to be the right chemistry on both sides, for the employee and the employer. ESC said, “It has to be right for you, too.”
What do you perceive as the advantages of coming from a liberal arts background? How did this prepare you for your success in your job search?
You go into liberal arts to learn something rather than because you just want to get a job. What I realized is that I can be very persuasive in telling about my choice. I can adapt to many different subjects. Liberal Arts had many requirements, including science and math. All of these subjects have made me mentally flexible. I know how to write and I can participate in group work and discussions. I might have been burned out if I only studied science. Studying liberal arts has made me a more interesting person. I had no idea what I wanted to do at 18.
All of the interview prep really helped me get ready for possible questions and the types of things employers look for. I also learned how to tell my story in a way that was both interesting and relevant to the needs of a potential employer. I had no idea how to explain and highlight my skills and experiences. I practiced until it felt natural and organic. I had to actively learn what sounds good. It is really valuable to practice with somebody.
Readers will get advice and hear more about this student’s journey from college and internships to a pivot and a job offer in next month’s ESC newsletter.