May 13, 2017, all 16 years of schooling has prepared college students for one very special moment, that for me, just so happened to fall on May 13, 2017. That significant date will forever be etched in my mind as the day my closely-held paradigm did a complete about-face. Our entire lives, teachers, parental guiders, church members and family friends tell us how important it is to attain some form of higher education. We are instilled with the standard textbook vision of the "American dream" and the only way to accomplish that dream is to graduate from college; well I graduated, now what?
Let me tell you a story, back in 1989 a young, ambitious African-American student graduated from the quaint little historically black college in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina. The student turned graduate proceeded to do what many recent grads do, go back to their parents house and figure out life from there. Back under her parents roof, with a bachelor's degree in Marketing and nearly no experience, Antoinette had to take what she could get when looking for a job. She started with a temporary agency, who placed her in a receptionist position. While working as a receptionist, Antoinette used her personality to get close with HR managers and CEO's of the company where she worked. After getting acquainted with higher ups, they referred her to another job in a warehouse environment. During her time in the warehouse, Antoinette again worked hard and put all her effort into the job and was eventually moved to warehouse manager and six months later moved out of the warehouse facility to the offices of the warehouse. Fast forward 28 years, Antoinette is now a Vice President of Marketing for Citigroup Inc.
This is my mother's post-graduation story, after five different job titles and seven years of occupational uncertainty she finally landed the position that she always dreamt of having. The purpose of this anecdote is to solidify for recent graduates and college students alike that starting from the bottom is okay, and sometimes mandatory! I know first-hand how difficult it is to stay humble, keep your eyes on your own plate and not be discouraged by how much everyone around you seems to be thriving. Every time I get on LinkedIn, I see a fellow alum who's a logistics manager for Walmart, an account executive for Peterbilt, or even a Disney intern with an almost guaranteed flourishing career in the near future.
If you needed a word of encouragement this week or a little gold nugget to keep you going, here it is! In order to conquer the post-grad blues the first thing we must focus on is keeping our attention on our own affairs and not look to peers as competition but as references for information. Instead of competing with your LinkedIn connections, use them as a key to open the door to your dream job. Secondly, if you apply to all the careers you would love to have and none of them are calling you back, it's certainly okay to start at the bottom of a fortune five hundred company and work your way up. It may take time and it may feel a little embarrassing, but if you can effectively use the skills learned during college paired with determination and excellence moving up won't be a problem. Lastly, temporary agencies are there to help people find the right occupations for them, they are the perfect places to start when it seems like there's no where else to go. The road to receiving a college degree can be one of the hardest experiences in life, however this is only the beginning! Win, lose or draw, dreams do come true, work hard, be consistent, be true to yourself and the pieces will all fit perfectly in this puzzle we call life.