January 24, 2018

Case Study: A Graduate’s Engaged Pursuit

Andy was just weeks from graduation and was starting to panic. He had to find something good … and something fast!

This is the last in my dedicated series of Case Studies around my big client wins (and losses) over the past 12 months. Thank you for the feedback around these stories (I’ve heard from several of you) – I’m glad they’re providing insight, inspiration, and perspective!

Due to this positive feedback, I’ve decided to continue this focus on Case Studies each month in 2018.  So, in addition to my monthly Book, Article, TEDTalk, and Podcast (BATP) recommendation, I’ll also be sending out a monthly Case Study to highlight notable client situations.  Of course, I’ll be keeping the names of folks completely confidential.

This week, I’d like to talk about Andy…

Here’s what happened:

Andy was a Senior in a super-prestigious east-coast school.  Business major with a ton of personality, solid academic performance, and a list of reputable internships.  Professors and peers were super-confident in Andy’s potential.  “You can do whatever you want,” they would say. “The world is your oyster.”

Andy was super-excited, but also super-scared. He was ready for the “real-world,” but was also worried about paying-back his (mounting) student loans.

Here’s how Andy approached his situation:

Andy didn’t have a big professional network, so he started where most folks would guess – in the Career Center on campus.

His experience with the Career Center was average at best. He felt like a number (he did go to a huge school after all), was not impressed with their approach (they started with his resume and cover letter) and didn’t seem to have perspective on the “real-world.”

Andy kept at it but started to get nervous.  Lots of work with little results. He had a great resume and cover letter but no interviews, no network, and a dwindling level of confidence.

Then Andy started to panic…

And that’s when Andy’s parents reached-out to me to help. “We think Andy would find a ton of value in your approach and your professional experience,” his mom told me.

Here’s how Engaged Pursuit came into play:

I knew we had a lot of work ahead of us.  Not only did Andy need a total re-do on his approach to the “real-world,” but he also needed a huge confidence boost and a reality-check. We had to address his job-search and his increasing level of panic (and relatively quickly with graduation quickly approaching).

Side note: I’m finding this “softer-side” of Career Coaching an important part of my client relationships. This is not (always) about finding an engaging gig – it’s often about helping folks get out of a “funk” too.  I love this important work, so I’m always willing to play this role if/when needed.

Here’s what we did:

Instead of diving right into the Engaged Pursuit products (Professional Dashboard, Professional Story/Elevator Pitch, resume re-do, interview prep, etc) I started with the basics around this transition out of the school environment.  I highlighted the following in our first meeting:

  • Graduating into the “real-world” is hard and it will take time to find something good
  • Do not read “What Color is Your Parachute?” (sorry, parents, I know this is your default)
  • A good salary is important. You have student loans
  • You have to do the work
  • People are key. Be nice. Build your network. Smile
  • Send thank you notes
  • You will find something

After setting those expectations (and therefore reducing Andy’s stress) we got to work. We partnered together to build Andy’s Professional Dashboard, establish his Professional Story/Elevator Pitch, get his resume in a good state, and get him talking in a professional manner (professional/corporate language can be totally different, as many of you know).

Then we practiced, practiced, practiced. Andy needed it. He had never done this before. Everything was new…

Here’s our results:

After 4 weeks of intense work, Andy was selected to interview for a Sales position with a super-well-known consumer brand.  He nailed the recruiter call, sailed-through the Hiring Manager discussion, and hit a home-run during the in-person interviews.

He was offered the role within 2 weeks of graduation…

Good salary, perfect match to his Professional Story, awesome manager, and tons of potential.  What a perfect start to the “real world” (no parachute required)!

Here’s what we learned:

  • Campus Career Centers may not provide the best results. Start there for sure, but you may quickly learn (like Andy) that a different (more modern) approach is required
  • Parents check-in with your kids who are approaching graduation. They may need help
  • Starting with the basics is super-important for upcoming college graduates. Setting realistic expectations around the entire professional process is key.
  • Interview preparation is probably the most-important piece of the graduate’s Engaged Pursuit. There’s a whole new language to master, and approach to think about and a confidence that’s required. Again, all new stuff for many college graduates
  • The first job out of school doesn’t need to be perfect. Finding a good fit with salary, boss, and interests is enough. It’s all about building experiences (and a reputation) during the first couple years out of school

Your homework this week: Do you know someone getting ready for the real-world? Walking across the stage will come sooner than you think!  Let’s chat if you think a partnership with someone close to you might be helpful!

Coming-up next week:  Better late than never!  Next week I’m highlighting my favorite books of 2017! If you missed any of my monthly recommendations, you’ll get my best of the year all in one place next week!

Here’s to your Engaged Pursuit!

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