You are about to enter the “real world,” and if you are anything like I was at the end of my senior year at Miami, the two thoughts that are constantly on your mind are: “I no longer have to go to class!” and “I can’t wait to get a job and see that first real paycheck hit my bank account!” Little did I know that I was about to embark on the longest and most rewarding educational endeavor of my life and that the paycheck is only a small fraction of what gives you satisfaction in your career.
I’ve been gainfully employed for almost a decade now, and have experience working for both a small, closely-held financial planning firm and now, a mid-sized, publicly traded, commercial transportation insurance company. Each experience has taught me a little something about what it takes to find a career and succeed in it. For what they are worth, below are a few of my thoughts.
The keys to finding and securing your first job:
- Look beyond today. Look for a company with growth potential, not only for the company itself but for you as an individual. With growth comes opportunity; whether that means a new role within the organization or an opportunity to move to a new city because of an acquisition, both of which happened for me. At this point in your career you have nothing to lose…so take a chance and look for a company where you think you’ll have the greatest opportunity for personal and professional growth.
- Study up! Really get know the company you’ll be interviewing with. What do they do? Who do they serve? And most importantly what sets them apart? I say the last is most important because it gives you an idea of what drives the organization. In turn, you can use that information to explain how your skills and knowledge align with the company objectives. i.e. What sets you apart from all of the other Miami graduates that come knocking? In today’s world there is no excuse for not doing your homework; you have an abundance of information right at your fingertips. You may even be able to go as far as to learn a little about the individuals you’ll be interviewing with. It is quite apparent during an interview who has and who has not done their research. And I can tell you from personal experience, if you do not have an interest in learning about the company, they likely will not take an interest in you. Study up.
Succeeding in your career:
- Invest In Yourself. Everything you have learned up to this point has been laying the groundwork upon which you are now responsible for building your career on. Organizations recognize those individuals who continue to invest in themselves and pursue additional education opportunities; some will even invest along with you. Whether it is another degree or a specific designation relative to your field, you should make every attempt you can to broaden your knowledge.
- Contribute. This means more than just showing up on time and getting your job done. As a new employee you have something to offer that no one else does; a fresh perspective. Don’t be afraid to use it. If you think there is a more effective or efficient way to accomplish something within the organization, voice your opinion, but be prepared to follow it up with action. I would challenge you to keep this mindset throughout your career. It is easy to settle into the, “this is the way it has always been done” mentality. But the truth of the matter is, new ideas and fresh perspectives are what continue to move organizations forward and you can play a part in that.
I have found my career at National Interstate Insurance Company, an organization that sets itself apart from its competitors by offering customized insurance solutions for our clients. I am excited to come to the office every day, because each day is an opportunity to contribute to the success of our organization.
And did I mention we’re growing!? When I joined the company eight years ago, we had 300 employees and grossed $300M in revenue, today we have 650 employees and gross nearly $750M in revenue, and we don’t plan on stopping. If any (or all) of that sounds as appealing to you as it did to me, I’d encourage you to check out our careers page at careers.natl.com, for what could be the start of a very rewarding “real world” experience.
And don’t forget, study up!
– Josh Stoll, Product Manager, Truck Alternative Risk Programs – Class of ‘07