Article from Campus Activities Programming® Magazine’s “Curtain Call” –– October 2017
Thanks for the great advice you gave me when I graduated from college: “Your first job is not your dream job.” That was very helpful as I struggled through the challenges of being the intern, the grunt, the roadie, the gopher, and the lowest person on the team. It’s been awhile since I graduated and I’m now in a career I truly love doing work I enjoy every day.
Yes, there were times when I would’ve quit were it not for your sage advice. In the first few years, there were days I felt “more important” than the work I was doing, that I was somehow better than the job and deserved more. Well, with perseverance and commitment, I now have the “better” and the “more.”
Thanks for helping me realize that attaining my dream job was going to actually require hard work and dedication and a whole bunch of tough days on the job.
Thanks for teaching me how to stick to it!
This is the letter all parents, advisors, mentors and teachers want to read. We want our children, advisees and students to discover and pursue a career that best utilizes their strengths and allows them to grow. We want them to enjoy their work and find fulfillment. But we also need them to know their first post-college job is not their “dream job.” Their first, second and third jobs are more often steppingstones to achieving their goals.
When you get phone calls and emails from recent graduates who, just months ago, were club presidents and organizational leaders and are now completely mystified that they are making copies, fetching sandwiches, and doing data entry, encourage them to hang in there! This is what must be done in entry-level jobs. Even though they were top dogs last year, they now need to work hard and stick to it to achieve their career goals!
Let’s consider Carlie’s story. I met her when she was a first-year student at an Indiana school. She always wanted to get involved in radio. As a first-year student, she joined the campus radio club. She eventually got her own show and chose to major in broadcasting and communications. By her senior year, she was the head music programmer at her campus radio station and president of the radio club. She was a well-known, popular student leader. In the spring of her senior year, she secured a coveted paid internship at a major Top 40 radio station in Chicago. Amazing!
Carlie started her internship in June, but quit it two months later! In a Facebook post on the day she left the radio station, she wrote, “They did not utilize my talent.” Seven years later, Carlie is no longer working towards her chosen career. She has a “job” in a field that doesn’t interest her. What if she had stayed at the radio station? What would her job be now? We’ll never know because she lacked “career sticktoitiveness.”
Now, let’s consider Angie’s story. I met her when she was a senior and president of the student programming board at a rural Pennsylvania school. She was a hard-working, popular student leader. Her dream was to be the tour manager for a major music act. Upon graduation, she moved to Charlotte, NC, and worked as a waitress. After a few months of knocking on doors and showing up to interviews, she secured an unpaid internship at a major outdoor music venue. Her first “job” was being the assistant to the backstage production manager. She performed this role an entire year! But during that year, she met bands and tour managers, building a network of contacts.
Angie made it a point to meet every single band and its management team. She let each of them know her dream of becoming a tour manager. In the 14th month of her internship, she was asked to be assistant to the stage manager for the upcoming Dave Matthews tour. She said, “YES!”
To date, Angie has toured the world with The Dave Matthews Band, NSYNC, Madonna, Guns & Roses and Justin Bieber. We last saw each other backstage in Nashville, when she was Imagine Dragons’ tour manager! She’s living proof of the great value of “sticktoitiveness.” Angie is living her career dream.
What will you tell your students? How will you instill in them the value of perseverance and hard work? It’s never too soon to share your own stories of how you achieved your current position on campus.
“Your first job is not your dream job.” That’s great advice! Thanks, Mom!
Perhaps you’re currently in your first post-college job. Congrats! It’s probably not your dream job, but you’re moving in your chosen direction. Don’t quit! Persevere, work hard, and show the world the value of “career sticktoitiveness!”
Jason LeVasseur lives in Nashville, TN, and is one of the most awarded music performers in campus entertainment. He’s also a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, summer camp counselor, husband, father, and the creator of “The Rock Star Project.”