How to Avoid the Post-Grad Panic
Rachael Bozsik, a personal branding and networking pro and recent grad herself, shares her advice.
When she was a student, Rachael Bozsik watched other female students go into a full-fledged panic as graduation approached. “The girls went from being excited about their potential careers all throughout college to acting desperate,” she says. “They panicked and took jobs they weren’t passionate about. I couldn’t believe my eyes—one girl wanted to be an upscale event planner, but ended up taking a job in IT tech recruiting.” A self-described networker at heart, Rachael had sought out mentors to guide her and landed great internships. Her friends came to her to rework their resumes and to practice for upcoming interviews. “I took it upon myself to learn career skills that I could pass on to others,” she says. When she graduated, Rachael tapped her now-extensive network of mentors to help her build a business out of advising college girls on personal branding, networking and other career skills. “I want them to become the most authentic and professional versions of themselves as they enter the work world,” she says of her mission. “It has become my full-time goal and passion to help girls shift from being desperate job-seekers to choosers of opportunities.” After graduating in 2015, Rachael began running the Brand Girls Skype workshop, a four-session program in which she focuses on personal branding and helps college girls figure out what they want, what makes them special and how to stand out in a competitive crowd. Her client base spans 11 states, and she hopes to expand into all 50 in the next year. Many of her clients, who she refers to as "The Brand Girls," have gone on to land killer internships and jobs at companies like Oscar de la Renta, DVF, Kate Spade, Gray and Co. PR and Perkins Eastman. “The generation before us had job stability—my parents, for example, have been at Verizon for 25 years,” says Rachael. “Millennials, on the other hand, are switching jobs every one to three years. Job stability is out; brand stability is in.” So, how do you stay brand stable? “Establish your personal brand, be clear on what you want and form a community of mentors in your area of interest.” Rachael shared her advice on doing just that, whether you’re starting a summer internship or gearing up to graduate.
Find your “keywords”
This is a lot of fun, and one of our Brand Girls community’s favorite activities. Ask your parents and friends, “If I were to win an award, what would it be for? What makes me special?” You’ll get to hear what others think of you, and their answers may surprise you and bring up new career ideas you’d never have thought of. Then, think about three brands you love, and ask yourself what you love about them. Your personal brand, just like the brands you see every day, have keywords that describe them. For example, the Ivanka Trump brand is polished, feminine and solution-oriented. Based on what your parents and friends say about you, and the brands you identify with, determine what your three keywords are.
Put it out there
Once you figure out what your brand is, apply it in three ways: tangibly (your resume and cover letter), digitally (your LinkedIn, personal website, etc.) and in person (the way you present yourself when you meet people). Take your keywords, and apply them across the board—update the content in your tangible and digital materials, and create a pitch that you can use to describe yourself. Your brand will be consistent across every single touchpoint. There are tons of girls out there who feel like they need to fit a certain mold to get into the professional world. Take a step back to figure out your unique strengths; find a path that’s authentic to you.
Play the student card
People love to help students. When you’re in college or just graduating, you’re in a great position to ask for help. Reach out to people in the fields you’re interested in pursuing to see if they’d be willing to talk with you. Say, “I’d love to learn from you. I hope to one day follow a similar career path.” Take them out for coffee. Ask for their advice and thoughts on where the industry is going and their stories about getting to where they are today. Network! Intern! Put your foot in that door and tell them what makes you unique—you never know if they know of opportunities that would be perfect for you.
Have a call to action
After an informational interview, always have an action plan for moving the conversation forward and nurturing the relationship. Say, “I really enjoyed talking with you today,” then ask if they know of anyone else you should speak to and whether they’d be open to staying in touch. Call to action, baby! Take a deep breath and make a statement that will take the relationship to the next step.
Go for it
If you’re thinking about going the entrepreneurial route, don’t be afraid to test the waters now. There’s never really a great time to start a business; I strongly believe that you’re never going to think you have enough experience or resources. I felt like the longer I put it off, the harder it would be. Right now, I don’t have a mortgage, I’m not married and I don’t have kids. If I’m going to do it, it’s going to be now, and I’m going to give 100% of myself to it. I’m only 23 and a recent grad, and I’m beyond grateful to be in a position where mentors are willing to help me along the way. Now is the time to take the leap and learn from my community while I continue to uplift, empower and raise The Brand Girl Community.
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