By: Maddie Komar (26), Sunday Group Management Account & Brand Manager
Everyone tells you how important college is. It’s four years that can transform your life, that is, if you are looking at it with the right mindset. Being proactive throughout your college years can pay dividends down the road.
My name is Maddie Komar and at just 23 years old, I landed my dream job. Now 26 years old, I am the Account and Brand Manager for Sunday Group Management, a Motorsports PR agency in Indianapolis, IN. I often think about how lucky I am to have scored my dream job, working in an industry that I am passionate about. But then again, I think that is isn’t luck that got me here, it was hard word and perseverance that pushed me to where I am today.
Having gone through college and the ups and downs of getting a job, I have come up with the 7 ways that YOU can land your dream job right after college graduation.
- Find Your Passion
College is the time when you can explore all sorts industries and majors to find out what your passion is. The earlier you can figure that out the better. Think about that areas that you are naturally efficient in – Being good with numbers, being athletic, you like to take care of people, you love animals. All of these things are the first step to finding your passion.Being able to recognize a quality that comes easy to you is the key factor in determining your goals, because passions are effortless and enjoyable. For me, I came from a racing family. My dad raced cars when I was growing up and soon I raced go-karts for nearly 10 years throughout my childhood. Being at a race track and racing was my passion.
- Think Realistically
Once you find a field you’re interested in, start thinking how that passion can become a reality. Now, it’s awesome that your passion or goal may be to become a gold medalist at the olympics and that 100% can happen with enough work and determination. But, what is the rate of success of that happening and will you be ok if that goal is never met?Thinking realistically is important because it minimizes discouragement when that goal doesn’t come to fruition. For me, my passion was being a driver. As much as I would have loved to become a professional race car driver and travel the world and race, that wasn’t realistic for me. So what did I do? I figured out a way to make that passion realistic.I knew that I was good at writing, especially when it came to writing about things that I loved. So started to think of ways that would allow me to still be at the race track, travel and that included writing – and that brought me to the world of Motorsports PR. It was a feasible job that I would work towards, while still being inside the industry that I was passionate about.
Once you have that realistic goal in mind, start working on ways to immerse yourself and make contacts within that industry. The sooner you can decide on your passion and your goal, the sooner you can start making connections.I decided to move forward with Motorsports PR my freshman year in college. That may seem like a daunting time frame, but if you put in the work you too can have a goal by the time you are 18. Every night in my dorm, I would spend hours researching every inch of the Motorsports industry and try to find names, email addresses and phone numbers to start getting my name out there. I created an excel spreadsheet with every contact that I came across. As I emailed or called each contact I would note what they said, if they responded and if they were interested and willing to help. Getting your name out in your field of interest as early as possible is one of the most important factors.
- Take Advantage of Your Resources
One of the benefits of attending college is that you have access to hundreds of resources for FREE. Take advantage of your school’s career services department. It’s their goal to get you in the workplace and make it as easy as possible.I met with a career services counselor who helped me create my resume and cover letter. We would have assignments and I would come back and we would discuss what I needed to do before I applied for jobs or internships. Many career service centers also have offices that you can rent out to either work on your resume or utilize when it comes to interviews. My first ever internship interview was via Skype and I utilized the career service office as a professional setting to have this interview.
- Immerse Yourself Early On – INTERNSHIPS
If I had to give a college student only one piece of advice to secure their dream job by graduation I would suggest internships. Internships are the one way to immerse yourself in the business world early on. Having a balanced mindset about internships is also very important. They aren’t just opportunities to find out what areas you enjoy working in, they are also opportunities to find out what you don’t like as well.The four years that I was in college I participated in 5 internships and they were a major reason for me landing my current job. Through internships you start making more contacts than you would have online and on your college campus. You get to experience what the workload in that industry is like first hand. 90% of internships are unpaid which may seem disheartening, but in the long run the knowledge that you will take away from the internship far exceeds any monetary gain that you would have received.
- Persistence and Timing
This bullet ties back into the “contacts” section. 9 times out of 10 if you finally reach a contact and speak to a real person but you will get the typical response that goes something like this: “we are not hiring or looking for interns at this time, but we will save your resume on file and if anything comes up we will contact you.” I can’t tell you how many times I got that same line. But don’t be discouraged because any job and any internship is all about timing. You never know when a company will need an intern or a new hire so the key is to be persistent.Along with my spreadsheet of contacts I made note of the date that I contacted each person. I made sure that once a month I reached back out to that same person to see if their situation had changed. Sometimes I contacted people once a month for over a year – this happened with a big IndyCar race team that I had spoken with. But finally after a year of persistence they invited me to a race as their guest to speak to them in person. Being persistent allows your name to stay relevant and shows that you are serious about the position and going for what you want.
- Keep Your Options Open – Never Say ‘NO’
The final bullet for getting your dream job out of college is to keep your options open. Being open to opportunities will get you way farther than if you had turned something down. We all know that jobs are hard to come by and at times feel impossible. But if you participated in internships you already have that experience built into your resume rather than going into a job interview with a blank slate. The first internship or first job may not seem ideal, but its about the EXPERIENCE that you will take away.I had one internship in college that I thought would be great and it turned out to be awful – to the point where I almost quit after a week of being there. But I decided to stick it out and it turned out that it was one of the most important internships that I had. By not saying ‘no’ and quitting, I ended up getting some of the most valuable contacts from that internship, that in turn helped me connect with people later down the road. You never know what you’re going to get out of an opportunity, so take it as it comes and embrace the learning experience.
Let me tell you, if you think that getting your dream job is going to be easy just because you have a passion, then you might be mistaken. That may help you get there but nothing will be handed on a silver platter. Just like anything in life, if you want it, you need to put in the work and the results/rewards will come. Use college and everything that it provides to your advantage. Teachers, counselors and service departments are for your benefit only, so if they are not taken advantage of, you are only doing yourself a disservice.
You can do it because if you want it you’ll make the time to go after it.