New college grad career bootcamp - tested 6-week workshop to launch your professional life.
It took me seven miserable months to find a job after I graduated from college. Yes, I graduated during a recession. Yes, I graduated with a liberal arts degree. Yes, I graduated with limited experience – teaching tennis during the summer and securing one, unpaid internship during my undergrad. None of this exactly qualified me for a dream job. And, yes, I didn’t have a clue what I was “searching” for.
Despite the economic downturn, I moved from the Motor City to the Windy City with my gainfully employed, big sister (a pediatric nurse) and the support of my hopeful parents who promised to bankroll me for a few months because of the recession and because they wanted me to use my degree.
I was armed with an optimistic attitude, a fancy resume (it was typeset and printed on Crane’s stationery) and a little cash in the bank.
After getting the lay of the land – visiting all the deep-dish pizza joints in Chicago and memorizing the names of the streets in the Loop and along the Magnificent Mile – my days were spent combing through the classified section of the Chicago Tribune (circa 1980s - pre-LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter). I banged out hundreds of cover letters on my portable Smith-Corona and applied for every entry-level job I could find. I had very few distinguishing qualifications and even fewer requirements for my new career – the salary needed to cover my rent, utilities, transportation, food and afford me the luxury of a couple of pairs of Cole Haan shoes. And, if I struck it big, maybe I would earn a little discretionary cash to explore Rush Street.
After months of dead end leads, I convinced my parents that I needed to join a health club – to stay fit and to network. Much to my surprise, while sitting on a locker room bench, I bumped into a fellow Spartan, Nancy, following a mid-day workout. She noticed my Michigan State hoody and took pity on me. She said her ad agency was hiring. Within days, I got my big break and accepted a full-time position as a Broadcast Auditor at Campbell Mithun. I have never been unemployed since that fateful day!
As I think about today’s marketplace, I feel genuine empathy for the class of 2020. My memory returns to that time of transition, aimlessly searching for a job and feeling rejected, frustrated and confused as I tried to launch my career. I swore if I ever landed a job, I would always do what I could to help job seekers, especially recent graduates.
Several years ago, my nephew Alex landed on my doorstep. Though 30 years had passed since my own graduation, Alex found himself in a similar situation. Like me, he was a tennis playing, liberal arts graduate with enormous promise and no real direction. He needed some guidance and a sounding board beyond his parents, who are career health care professionals with few connections outside that field.
Alex deserved better than leaving his career to a serendipitous meeting at a health club. I decided to engage. He needed a plan. He needed feedback. He needed gas for his Jeep!
We set expectations, outlined ground rules and agreed on a disciplined, confidential approach. This was not a resume writing workshop or a pity party. This was a soul-searching, respected relationship between two adults. There would be lots of research, projects and non-negotiable deadlines. Alex started working with me in early May and wanted to be hired by the 4th of July. I gulped hard and agreed!
That was the start of “Bootcamp for Young Professionals.” This was my way of paying it forward, applying my business knowledge and helping recent grads conquer the daunting job market. And it worked! Soon my following of “clients” grew from family members to friends to real clients!
Later this week, my partners and I will launch a new business devoted to helping recent college graduates discover how to not only find a role that pays the bills, but set a career trajectory that fits their talents and allows them to thrive.
P.S. Alex met his 4th of July deadline and today he is thriving!