This post is made possible by support from the Forte Foundation. All opinions are my own.
My first post-college job hardly scored me any points in “adulting” other than it helped pay my bills (I still needed two other jobs to break even). I worked as a page for The Late Show with David Letterman – so my first job doesn’t even exist anymore! It consisted mostly of smiling, answer tourists’ questions, warming up the audience with a speech, getting to determine who deserved to sit in the front, and assuring people Dave had never made sexual advances towards me or any of my female page cohorts, because we never really saw him anyway.
Once the one-year term as a page wrapped, I properly panicked. Here I was a year out of college and the only real skills I’d added to my resume were learning how to make snap judgements about how well people would act as audience members and pump people up with a rousing speech each day. I seemed qualified to work lines at amusement parks, how would I ever become a #BOSS? So, I fell back on the one skill that seemed to serve me well in the past to take control of my fate: networking.
Phase 1: Networking to find a stable job
Learning how to network may be the single best skill you can pick up in college, especially with those at your school. Networking doesn’t need to be some stuffy event with cubed cheese, mediocre wine and name tags. A house party I attended my senior year of college during alumni weekend scored me jobs one and two out of college.
The Letterman gig had come through a referral from an alumnus who I had known as a friendly acquaintance during college and reconnected with at aforementioned house party. He connected me directly with the head of the page program and coached me on what to expect when I got the interview. Once I was on the market for a post-page job – this alumnus’s friend (who I also spoke with at the party) mentioned the public relations agency he worked for was hiring. He too coached me on what to expect in the interview. Two weeks later, I had a regular, full-time job with benefits.
This skill of networking is one I primarily rely on to this day. That and always being direct about asking for what I want – the worst someone can tell you is no.
Phase 2: Asking for the order aka creating a job at a startup
During the time I found myself working as a New York City PR girl (without ever the slightest bit of aspiration to do so) I began penning this blog. You could say it was born slightly out of a creative black hole I had been experiencing. After a few media hits, Broke Millennial started to become a brand and freelancing opportunities came my way. And in this way I found myself in a meeting with the co-founders of MagnifyMoney and testing the site in its Beta version. When I noticed a tab for a blog, I asked if they had plans yet for what they wanted to do with the blog. When the co-founder said, “No, do you have any thoughts?” I said, “Yes, I can run it.”
Three weeks later I began a new job at a startup as employee number one in a position I’d literally made up myself.
Phase 3: Being my own boss
In true millennial fashion – my next move came just over two years later. The job at MagnifyMoney had been going well, but Broke Millennial had started to grow and balancing both efficiently had started to feel impossible. Broke Millennial had been growing so well in fact, that I’d gotten a book deal in early 2016. It felt the time had come to take the risk and invest in myself now.
Fortunately, years of freelance writing and beginning to dabble in speaking gigs meant I’d built a stable of clients and a steady income outside of my job. Losing the benefits like health care, an employer-matched 401(k) and paid vacation was going to sting – but staying in a job just for health care felt nonsensical. I had the chance now to be my own boss. Captain of my own destiny and all those cliché expressions.
I decided to take it.
Looking for career help?
While I navigated my early career without a Master’s degree (even though I did debate getting one for quite a while) it does make sense for plenty of people to get an MBA. If you’re currently debating the same way I did, then look into the non-profit Forté Foundation and it’s Be a Boss campaign, which is specifically designed for women. Forté provides free career services, access to business school forums and career webinars, and a discount for taking the GMAT. College and MBA students also get free access to job postings, conferences and a speaker series. At the very least, you can download the 10 Boss Career Tips for free and be entered to win the #BossKit Sweepstakes.
Now go forth and Be a Boss!