Launching Careers after College

7 Oct

An AP report cites: 53.6% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. Our family understands.

2011 Psych Grad works at a home improvement company and fits the definition of under-employed: holding a job that doesn’t require a Bachelor’s degree. Recently promoted to customer service management, it’s perfect training for his goal to be a pastor. He took my job-search advice.

2012 Marketing Grad remains unemployed. He has somewhat listened to my advice.

For what it’s worth, I share: Careers 101, by Mom.

1. Believe: There is room in the workforce for you.

If you’re willing to learn, if you’re a hard worker, you’ll find a job. Yes, it’s a pain to job hunt. It’s exhausting, depressing and no fun. Keep the faith; do the work. Something will materialize. Count on that.

2. Your job is to get a job.

  • Treat the search as a “real job”. Wake up by 7am; don’t stay up (or out!) all night. No beer until the weekend.
  • Leave the house. Act like an employed person. Take your laptop to “an office”. (ie: Starbucks, the library or Barnes & Noble)
  • Work part-time. People hire people who are working; you need experience and money. Apply everywhere – Home Depot, UPS, Quick Trip, restaurants. They understand they’re fortunate to hire someone of your caliber – if only for a few      weeks. Temp with an agency. Volunteer. Intern. It is not beneath you. Who knows where it could lead?

3. Follow the Basics.

  • Resumes & cover letters? If unsure, search Google or call professionals.
  • Keep an appropriate hair cut & interview attire clean, hanging up, always.
  • Track resume activity with a spreadsheet. Contact hiring managers for follow-up. You are the product. Sell yourself – it’s your job to reach out.
  • Open accounts with Indeed, Monster & CareerBuilder. Apply-apply-apply.
  • Use LinkedIn. Update your profile with a well-lit, professional-looking photo (No beard, t-shirt or photos with your PC/MacBook) LINK! Start with your parents. Do they have decades of experience in the work place? Trust them.
  • Edit your Facebook page. We’re not in college anymore – a keg stand photo does not help employability.
  • Set goals: 2-3 interviews per week – even if you do not want the job. Practice presenting yourself. Become fearless.
  • Invest 4-8 hours, daily, looking for a job. This can be done on weekends and evenings. You’ll find one faster, promise.
  • Nurture personal networks. Contact former employers, instructors, friends, family and neighbors.
  • Attend events – Local chambers/colleges/churches offer them. It keeps you engaged and current. Sharpen those people-skills – shake hands, make eye contact. Truly, it’s not so much what you know, it’s who you know.
  • Job Fairs – yes, they are depressing. Attend anyway. Observe other seekers. How can you set yourself apart? Pretend you’re a hiring manager – who catches your eye? Would you hire yourself? Why?

4. Keep the plates spinning.

Continue searching, even if you think you have something locked down. What’s the worst that can happen? You negotiate a higher salary with Company A, once they know Company B is in the game?

5. Be flexible.

Everyone begins somewhere. Don’t want to move to Texas or North Dakota? Six months in and you might be glad you took that chance. You’re young and the world is at your fingertips. Adventure while you can.

The day of doing what you want 24/7 is gone. Welcome to adulthood! Here’s my promise: making decisions for yourself is the best part about becoming an adult.

6. Dive in.

Xoxo, Mom

Next week’s course: Parenting 603


Enough about Mom – Let’s Celebrate Me!

13 May

Mother’s Day Eve – Preacher Child called at 11:24pm (I was sacked out). He redeemed himself from 2011 (Which he never acknowledged) by being the first child of 2012: Happy Mother’s Day. (Thank you, Preacher’s Wife)

I was helping Flower Child move. (Loves college SO much; she’ll stay for an internship and summer classes.) She’d prepared a beautiful gift basket and note; I cried upon reading. (“Mom, you always say not to be like me. Your reverse psychology worked; I want to be JUST like you.) She gives me entirely too much credit (reverse psych??? I meant that).

Party Child returned from Florida, where he visited Grandma and bio-mom – immediately said “Hey! Happy Mother’s Day!” and went to dinner with me and King. They toasted Modella Beer. They toasted the late Mr. Shelby. (Father of the Mustang/Cobra) Me? I contemplated life and a fine Texas Margarita.

Hmmm– Why should they toast me? 11 years of co-parenting for this? Then…

I am not their mother. 12 years after losing my mother – I’m finally glad for where she is – pain-free, with her Heavenly Father.

Why so calm? I am officially ScreamFree Certified.

Screaming? We think of shrill, loud noise.

I took a 3-Day hiatus from corporate America to attend ScreamFree Leadership Training with Hal Runkel and Co.

I learned screaming can be as quiet as an eye roll, the silent treatment, a blog. Screaming can be sarcasm. What does your scream look like? WOW. Ouch. Seriously?

The ScreamFree mission: Calm down the world, one relationship at a time.

I was skeptical; I emerged a calmer person as a result of this training. The founder is a regular on The Today Show. (Check out:

Here’s a kicker: Parenting is more about the parent than the child/children.

Think about it.

My mother said: You think you’re raising your children – they end up raising you.

Did you know? Chances are – the more you figure out yourself, the better parent you become?

It’s a paradox. Not: leave the kids at home to fend for themselves while you run off to Tahiti, or the day spa, or to your neighbor’s house… Rather: if you think the kids make you crazy – it’s possible you give them too much credit/power for making you crazy.

Step Back. Pause. Color outside the lines, Mom.


Might I say it? Take charge of yourself. Think about yourself. Take care of yourself. Celebrate yourself.

A wise woman offered advice after Preacher Child was born: “You cannot give what you do not have – take a nap when your baby naps – don’t wear yourself out or you won’t be any good to that baby.”

I am thick on the front end. But! Once I get it; I get it. 23 years later I finally understand. Take care of your own emotional, physical and spiritual health. Then and only then can you take care of those around you. It’s okay to celebrate you!

Yay, Mom!

Night Streets, Crow’s Feet & B-Words, OH MY!

29 Jan

The first step in dealing with a problem is admitting you have one, right?

I thought my 46th birthday was the demarcation of middle age; King said I crossed over in 2005. I cloaked myself in denial. Until now.

Time to admit: I am middle-aged.

Given recent complaints (From Party, Scholar, Flower Child and King) about my night driving, I bravely gave full disclosure to our optician. Actually, the doctor was the brave one, since I went ballistic during last year’s eye exam when he mentioned the B-word. (Apologetically claiming it was “a legal thing to inform me of options, he’d make a little note in my file”.) That B-word haunted me a full year, at least when driving at night or trying to name a face from 20 feet away.

Last week, I picked up a lovely pair of Cole Haan frames. Having worn reading glasses since high school – this shouldn’t be a blog-worthy event. However!

They call them Progressive lenses. As a marketing person, I like this re-branding of mature people’s eyewear. It makes the journey easier to stomach. (Progressive, as in gradual – not a political view)

I called my 89-year old Grandma. After we discussed the S.C. GOP primary and other world events, I told her about my progressive lenses. She scoffed: “They’re the same BI-FOCALS I wear and YOU know it!”

Thanks, Ma-maw. I love the way you’ve taught me to face my fears. Yes m‘am, I understand: we come from a long line of independent, pioneering, high-spirited women. Yes, I am a little vain. I will grow old gracefully – with eye creams, hair colorings, and my new progressive lenses.

So here I am – older and wiser. The best part?

I can SEE! Dark, shiny-rainy and even foggy roads! The words on signage are crisp and clear – at night! I can see skin and eye lash quality of people I interact with each day. I can see King’s individual greys on his fine head of hair.

It’s a mixed blessing, as I’ve also seen the eye cream isn’t working quite as well as I’d thought … progressives reveal signs of my over-developed character. (A well-lived life will do that to a gal, no?)

I spoke to a friend (since high school). Ironically, she picked up her progressives the very same day that I did! We agreed: it’s a trade-off, but worth the benefits. At least the world doesn’t see the actual Coke-bottle-like squares etched in the lenses to announce to the world we’re, um, our eyes are… growing up.

We decided it’s preferable to be older and wiser – we deserve to see our best. How else will we monitor the eye cream? We’re ready to take on our new hi-def world.