Salutation, Dearest Reader!

This week, I met a young guy who is finishing his studies and looking to start a career.

“I applied for the XXXX graduate program, but I was unsuccessful. They told me there were 10,000 applicants and only a few positions.”

Gee Willickers

Frankly, I’m not at all surprised.

In the past, I looked at the Graduate programs offered by the Big Four Banks.

They looked good.

A ‘Grad’ would rotate through different departments over a period of 18 months until they were slotted into a permanent position, chosen by management.

Long hours. But rewarding.

Every industry and big business has a similar program, or ‘opportunity’, for Grads.

But, candidly, just a few happy chaps will get the green light to join one of these giant organisations – despite thousands of applications.

My 3 tips for Students Looking to Start a Career 

My advice to this future Grad was simple. Aside from the “work hard”, “put in the extra effort” and (my favourite) “you’ll have to do the hard yards, first”, here’s what I said:

1. Differentiate Yourself 

There were 10,000 people going for this program. If you are lucky, there might be 20 people going for the next position.

Heck, even if it is just you and one other person — you MUST be different.

I’m not telling you to wear assless chaps to your upcoming design interview.

Just give them a reason to meet you.

One thing you don’t have as a Grad is the experience. Unfortunately, it’s experience which gets you into the good jobs, right?

Okay, so here’s what you do: go to every social media platform or blog of the best firms/people in your field and start engaging with the creator. Post a comment complimenting the person, then have an informed piece of feedback.

NOT: “Hey, sweet post bro! U got grad positions?”

BUT: “Hi [insert expert’s first name], I really like how you said X but did you consider…?”.

Why should you do this?

Well, “experience” is a synonym for “informed”. And believe me, you can fake it until you make it.

(you may have seen me on The Project – it works)

Maybe you want to work in finance for XYZ fund manager? Read their blog, understand their strategy, and research everything there is to know. Then, post a comment.

Ultimately, you want to engage with them as a likeminded associate – not a student. Be on their level — because they are not on yours.

The student who met with me for coffee this week did one very important thing — he met with me for coffee!

Aside from my irrational love affair with good coffee, we talked about stocks, finance, entrepreneurship, culture and all types of stuff.

We engaged one-on-one.

Unfortunately, we’re not hiring…yet.

2. Become a Blogaholic

Related to the first tip. Get. A. Blog.

Google Blogger is free (that means ‘cheap’) — and easy!

It doesn’t need to be pretty.

But it needs to produce quality content.

Aspiring investors should take note — and bookmarkJohn Hempton’s blog. I have.

Don’t just post any ol’ crap on your blog. The only way to create a following is to post good content.

Don’t have content?

If you’re an aspiring engineer, post a critique of the 10 most bizarre structures around Melbourne’s CBD.

Looking to move into finance? Go to the ASX, find a stock that rallied and post what you learned from the research (take note of financial advice laws, first).

Another great way to build professional status, juice your CV and learn, is by finding or starting a group.

Not a Facebook group – but an actual group that meets periodically.

It shows you are passionate about your industry. Plus, you’re networking.

3. Avoid being Overzealous 

Interviewer: “Tell me, [your name], what do you like about Coles Supermarkets?”

You: “I’m in love with fruit and vegetables. Did you know Brassica oleracea var. Capitata (cabbage) is 2.5% dietary fibre?”

Now, you may indeed love cabbages, or finance, or design, or engineering. But if you just agree with everything the interviewer says and does, or come across too passionate, you may be seen as insincere and — worst of all — immature.

Be informed, but recognise where you will fit in the organisation. As tough as it sounds if the interviewer doesn’t like you they sure as hell won’t hire you.

Be confident, but not a know-it-all.

And most importantly, just be yourself: an eager and informed team player.

My Takeaway

Jobs. Money. Relationships. They all come to people who have done one thing:

Invested in themselves.

Whether you are going for a new job or just starting out, invest in yourself now.

And when you’re not doing that?

Just stay classy San Diego.


Owen Raszkiewicz

Find me on Twitter: @OwenRask


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