The moment you can officially say that you are a senior in college, people stop asking about what you are studying and start asking about what you plan to with that degree after graduation. It is just a natural curiosity for most people, but I was shocked to be asked about my post graduation plans halfway through junior year. The first time it happened, I clammed up and had no idea what to say. I felt like my college career had just started, and it was already coming to a close. I sometimes still feel like that and I’m only six months until graduation. Everything about that question felt terrifying, confusing, overwhelming, and deep down underneath it all, maybe even a little bit exciting?
By the time I walk across the stage and get that diploma, I will have spent approximately 70% of my life in a classroom. For those of us who are looking to go into the workforce, life without syllabi may feel foreign. Thankfully I have a semester and a half to prepare, but some of my fears were calmed when my capstone class brought Meghan Richards in as a guest speaker. Richards was a 2017 Marketing graduate from Champlain College, who since graduation has started working for Vermont Teddy Bear. Just four months after finishing her degree, she came back to reflect with us on her experience and offered an amazing piece of advice:
“You are not going to find your forever job, so take advantage of a job where you can grow and learn.”
In her specific role at Vermont Teddy Bear, her projects include Google AdWords, influencer marketing, and a variety of tasks that she has learned while on this job. The general tone of her journey to today highlights one thing that I often forget in regards to the hiring process. As much applicants want the employer to like them, the employer wants the applicant to like them and the place of employment too. The organization needs to fill the role, so the hiring process is aimed at mutual value. So interviews and networking are all about what both parties find bring to the other. Furthermore the employees are looking to learn and grow no matter what stage in your career you may be. Knowing that hiring is all about fit, is incredibly helpful given my second take-away from her talk: What made you want to work for them?
While everyone’s goal when applying for a job is to be employed, there were other motivations behind applying to each individual organization. Maybe it was the feeling you got when you talked to the hiring managers in your interviews. Or you might have appreciated their dedication to initiatives you care about. It could even come down to your appreciation of the office décor. Richards has a giant teddy bear in her office that sounds mighty nice to me! Whatever those motivations may be, I know that I need to figure out my priorities. I care deeply about professional and community development especially for disempowered groups. So why then would I consider working for an organization that does not share those values?
Based off Richard’s talk and our in-class discussion on virtue ethics, I realized in the end that I have to be willing to stand behind a company’s mission. I think I have been spoiled by living in socially conscious Vermont. Home to Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, 1% for the Planet, business for good is a common occurrence sometimes even an expectation. This summer I got to experience this business model first hand when I worked at National Life Group, a financial services organization with the motto “Do good. Be good. Make good.” Those values are integrated into everything they do, and I know that isn’t the case at every company.
No matter where I land after graduation, I want to make sure that I believe in whatever the company does and aspires to do. It may not be forever, but for as long as I’m there, my personal identity is impacted by place of work. If I am not proud of the organization and the people I work with, maybe it isn’t the place for me. Come May, if I manage to get that piece right, I think that I can rest easy with my decision.