SBJ/March 20-26, 2017/Opinion

Seeking employment: Some advice for the Class of 2017

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In thinking about this column, I decided to solicit input and advice from recent graduates of my University of South Florida MBA/MS graduate program (2015, 2016 and an early hire from 2017) who have been in the job market recently and understand the complexities of seeking employment. After sharing their advice, I will offer my own thoughts as someone intimately involved in placing 25 students every year.

CONNOR GLENN, Class of 2016: Sales associate, Fenway Sports Management
Meet with anyone and everyone you can in the industry. You never know which informational interviews turn into full-time positions. Each meeting is an opportunity to grow and learn about the industry and yourself. Afterward, disconnect from your phone and reflect on your growth as a result of the meeting. Use this growth to assure yourself of your ambitions and stop saying I think I want to do X and start saying I know I want to do X and this is why.

ZACH LEE, Class of 2016: Associate manager of brands, Wasserman
Play the “student” card as much as possible. Use the fact that you are a student in a graduate program to reach out to industry contacts and ask for time to chat or meet in person to gather as much information as possible. There were several contacts that I had throughout the process that provided great wisdom and opinions on how to handle your first industry job, even if they weren’t able to directly hire me to their team.

Relax. Some of your peers will begin to land interviews and jobs before you do. Don’t be reactive and begin changing your plan and trying to create something that isn’t there just for the sake of “having a job.” Trust the process, trust your skills, and trust the experience you have; the right job will come to you.

First Look podcast, with discussion of this column beginning at the 26:35 mark


Recent grads say meet with as many people, and gather as much information, as you can.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES


KAYLA CHESANEK, Class of 2015: Executive assistant to the COO, Orlando Magic
Make a list of job requirements that matter to you. While some will be unique, all candidates should include in their list the character of the person you report to, values of the organization and skills the candidate is hoping to develop in the role. Use it as your framework and it will always keep you on track!

Keep an open mind. While you may go through school expecting to go down one career path, understand that unexpected opportunities can take your career to new heights. Don’t be afraid to evaluate every opportunity.

Create an advisory board for their employment process. It can include mentors, friends and peers in and out of the industry. This group will be the sounding board throughout the process and will make sure you stick to your overarching career goals. While their opinions are definitely something to factor in, remember to always trust your instincts.

JORDAN BELLAR, Class of 2016: Coordinator, corporate partnerships, New Jersey Devils
Spend more time developing relationships and interview skills than you do finding the right layout for your résumé. Three things that I tried to focus on and now look for when interviewing candidates:
Confidence — know your story and be able to share how you will demonstrate value.
Knowledge — understand who you’re talking to and be ready to ask thoughtful questions.
Practice — anticipate what questions you may be asked and role-play in advance.

RHYAN TRUETT, Class of 2016: Manager, Innovation Lab, Philadelphia 76ers
Find the right company for you, not the “perfect” job. Join a company whose leadership team motivates and inspires you, and where employees are pushed to grow. You are not finished learning (about the industry or yourself) when you leave the classroom.

ASHLEY AINBINDER, Class of 2016: Senior group sales associate, Legends, One World Observatory
It is not the title that defines us, it is the contribution and effort we put forth beyond our responsibilities that shows our value. At times, we all fall into a mindset where we become so focused on a title, yet we forget about the times we volunteered to work on that extra project or stayed late to try and find solutions to problems that weren’t necessarily in our “job description,” we were just curious. Curious to test our limits. Curious to overcome weakness and prove to people what we are capable of. Discovering our career paths may not always be easy, but we will never know which path to take unless we remain curious and persistent. For the Class of 2017, when you find that flame to light the fire of your curiosity, keep it lit until you discover your passion. When you find passion within your role, you will never work a day in your life.

LAURA MOORADIAN, Class of 2017: CRM analyst, Tampa Bay Lightning
We’re told time and time again “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” As my classmates and I near graduation, we’re learning it’s even more important who knows you. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, have those informational interviews because you never know what opportunity could come from them. And with that, never knock a job until you know everything about it — no matter the city. Enjoy the adventure and good luck fellow members of the Class of 2017.

Here are my takeaways and suggestions:
■ Informational interviews are essential.
■ Geography should in most cases be irrelevant for the first job.
■ Choosing your first boss is more important than selecting the organization.
■ Start the search process early on in your educational career — don’t wait until the final year.
■ Figure out what your skills are and what you like to do.
■ Practice for a wide scenario of interview types.
■ Be open minded and consider possibilities on their own merits.
■ Remember, you don’t have a decision to make until you receive an offer.

Finally, at least one-third of those of you reading this column will work in a job that doesn’t exist in 2017 — so work hard and do the best possible job at whatever you are hired to do and good things will happen.

Bill Sutton (wsutton1@usf.edu) is the founding director of the sport and entertainment business management MBA at the University of South Florida and principal of Bill Sutton & Associates. Follow him on Twitter @Sutton_ImpactU.

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