My Advice to 2021 College Grads – Marla Gottschalk

I can only think of a few moments that could have been a more challenging time entering the world of work. (The economic crisis of 2008 quickly comes to mind.) In today’s epidemic, job interviews are probably distant experiences and the flow of your job search may feel strangely isolated and opaque. Recent graduates will not have the benefit of site visits or sitting in the same room, face to face, with one of their potential team members or supervisors. However, we will be confused by it – as some of the adjustments become part of our longer-term future. In the post-pandemic world of work, the concept of “office” has already evolved, and there will be increased opportunities to work remotely (hoping to open up new possibilities for distant career paths).

However, certain things about finding a job need to stay the same. At the core of it all, an effective match for you with the job that will help you find success. In this context, my work in Core stability, May provide a useful lens for your job search. At the heart of it all is this: you are you – and determining the job that suits you best – is still very important. Focusing on this match will likely make you a happier and stronger contributor to any organization you join – and you can play a key role in this process. The premise is simple: Find a role that reaches your strengths and fully shares you. To achieve this, you need to reconcile yourself and ponder. Core stability requires that we deeply understand ourselves and our non-negotiable work life. It requires us to practice something I refer to as “radical self-knowledge.” As the name implies, it eludes the notion that you think – what drives you in job definitions, blackmails you and employs you – will play a key role in your career journey.

In this spirit, here are some things to consider when entering the job market – while maintaining the principles of core stability.

  • know you. Never underestimate the importance of understanding yourself. The more self-knowledge you accumulate, the greater the chance of a better fit for the job. Think about your experiences during your college years, take a notebook and answer the following questions: What motivated you and helped you feel engaged? What was the definition? Team type? Leader style? What experiences have dried you up? Ask yourself what the crucial ingredients were. Review your comments often. If possible, respect these elements when searching for / selecting a role. (Read more about things that are not negotiable in working life here.)
  • Role definition. Doing what you do, it’s one thing. The real place where you release all your training and talent is different. For example, an I / O psychologist can work in a variety of settings; A fast-paced consulting firm, larger organization or university framework. Each has unique qualities. (I chose a consulting firm, where I worked at PT as a student.) This may be the case in your field as well. Become an expert at defining differences and how those differences may affect the “gestalt” of your work life. Ask yourself this: How will the differences affect the well-being of your work life?
  • Know your team preferences. The team will likely remain a critical aspect of your work life. If you are leaving university and finding problematic teams, the issue may not have been in the team itself, but in the traits of the team you worked for. Do you work best in a close-knit team, or in a looser structure? Ask questions about both team structure and workflow, regarding each potential role. Try to get a clear picture of what teams might look like in your new role.
  • Understand your place in the customer / product journey. Perspective is the key here. So – try to imagine how your role fits into the larger plan of things – and how it might affect your feelings about work. For example, as an engineer you may work for a particular vendor or larger manufacturer organization. Which role will be more meaningful to you? What aspects of working within these frameworks might contribute to involvement or disengagement?
  • Look for clarity. Bottom line, if you can not determine what your day-to-day work life will look like, you need to look for more information. The devil is in the details, when it comes to a potential good match. Know the role and try not to leave the details near the case. Erosion can occur quickly and nervously, when you are left in the dark.

Hopefully these comments provide some guidance as you begin to shape your path. When I think of my first role – it was a mere chance I landed where I felt both challenged and rewarded. I find this worrying.

I want to increase the chances of working in your favor.

By the way, you can read more about core stability In this post In the Harvard Business Review.

Dr. Marla Gotschalk is an Industrial / Organizational Psychologist and Charter member of the LinkedIn Influencers Program. She is the co-founder of height – Counseling practice that helps individuals and organizations build a stronger foundation for work life through core stability. Her thoughts on work and organizations have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, BBC Work Life, Quartz and The Huffington Post


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