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6 Career Tips For New Graduates

6 Career Tips For New Graduates

Because higher education doesn’t bridge the gap between curriculum and real world demands, many millennials are drowning in student-loan debt or being under-utilized in the workforce. In order to combat the famous catch-22, “you can’t get experience without having experience,” fresh graduates are investing in more higher education in hopes that another degree will provide answers to the age-old question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

So, how do you get experience without having any? The first step is to identify the most strategic first job available – one that sets the foundation for a sustainable career and gives you the tools you need to reach that next step. Easier said than done, right? With employers who are sometimes hesitant to hire new grads, and no real direction, getting that first gig requires new graduates to get creative. My advice? Take control of your career by getting a variety of experiences early on – even if it’s unpaid internships or volunteer positions, seek out help – such as a mentor in your desired field – to guide you through the process.

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Here are some tips for starting your career that they didn’t teach you in school!

1. Be strategic about your first job.

View your first job as a means to accomplishing a specific goal. If you graduated with a general degree and aren’t sure how it relates, no problem. Approach this first job through a self-exploratory lens to help you better understand your likes and dislikes. Find out what duties and responsibilities you gravitate towards. Working on short-term assignments is a great way to get a variety of experiences, and once you’ve figured out your niche, you can use this knowledge to assure employers that you know what you’re looking for. Employers are much more interested in real-world applications versus theories, so if your goal is to get as much experience in your field as possible, find a role that gives you a wide range of exposure.

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2. Don’t commit to more education before mapping out a career plan.

Hold off an investing in more higher education until you’ve done your vetting. Believe it or not, your major doesn’t always translate into the dream job you envisioned in college, so it’s best to clock some time in before committing to more years of school. Once you’ve done that, write down your goals, and be honest: is a higher degree required in order to take you to your final destination or could you get there sooner with online courses, night classes, or specialized certifications? Then and only then does the university of your choice deserve your money.

3. Seek out experts to guide your career journey, not mom and dad.

Despite their best intentions, family and friends make bad career counselors. Forget the fact that most people are unaware of the vast movement in job creation today. Your parents are most likely traditionalists who are still driving “doctor,” “lawyer,” or “teacher” into your mind. And because they want what’s best for you, their advice comes from a place of emotion rather than logic, which means it’s completely biased. Do some research, get on LinkedIn, and start networking. Find experts and thought leaders in your field, and ask how they achieved their success. They’ll guide you through the process and help you grow your professional network. Get your resume out to various employment agencies in your area, and, if you’re eager to see some results, try a career coach for a more personal, hands-on experience.

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4. Rely on science rather than intuition.

Career assessments are incredible tools for answering the “I don’t know how my skills, experiences, and behaviors are relevant in the business world” problem. I know what you’re probably thinking – “Isn’t that the stupid questionnaire I took in high school that told me I’d be a great mechanical engineer or bus driver?” There are some incredible behavioral assessments out their backed by researched-to-death data that employers use on their candidates in order to make better hiring decisions. Our favorite is made by TTI Success Insights. It uses your basic human tendencies, such as how you communicate with others and what motivates you in life to tell you which work environments and occupations you’re best suited for. These underrated tools have been instrumental in my success in helping new grads find their career passions and land entry-level positions they love.

5. Think “specialty.”

The more you can acquire in-demand skills, the more marketable you become in the talent world. Go on Indeed.com to find out what specialty jobs are related to your desired field and are located in your area. Take note of the amount of entry-level positions available. You’ll want to see a high number since that signifies a talent shortage. Look at the job descriptions, and build the skills you need for that level. My daughter did this by working in one department of human resources while volunteering in another. This catapulted her career by an entire workforce level because of her diverse experience at such a young age.

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6. Consider these in-demand occupations.

Forbes just released The 10 Most Promising Jobs of 2015, based on stats courtesy of Glassdoor, and none of them include doctor, lawyer, and teacher. Instead, Physician’s Assistant, Software Engineer, and Marketing Manager were some of the highly-touted roles. Be open-minded to new opportunities, research all the new and exciting jobs out there, and talk to people on the front lines. Believe me, your background is much more pliable than you think.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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