Be an Awesome Waiter: What to do while you wait for the perfect gig

The best way to wait patiently for the right job is to absorb while you wait. And by absorb, I mean get out there and learn something! And while you learn, network and learn to stay connected with others. Whether you volunteer or find an internship, find some way to expand your knowledge on a certain topic. You never know, doing some of these things can lead you to a new job. It did for me! So, it’s worth a shot. Always look for new opportunities to learn new skills to add to your repertoire. Here are some tips that helped me along the way:

Keep in touch with old mentors, professors, and former supervisors

My internships were the first opportunity for me to get my feet wet in the PR world. And with each experience, I had the chance to see how the team of professionals did their jobs. There were times where I was asked to help communication managers and directors with various tasks, and what I learned from each of them was to display an attitude of gratitude (no matter what the task was). My former bosses remained optimistic in the face of adversity and this has rubbed off on me. An excellent PR professional knows how to interact with others in a positive way and encourage others to do well on their jobs. 

Now that I am no longer an intern for them, I still make time to meet with them in hopes that other healthy habits rub off on me. When I get together with my old mentors and former supervisors, here are some things we discuss: 

    • Ideas and personal goals
    • Pick their brains about recent experiences
    • Ask them about their challenges and how they overcome them
    • Ask for any resources to help you make better career decisions
    • Find out about upcoming events to attend and/or other professionals to network with

Volunteer your services to an organization in need

Recently, I assisted a small non-profit with various event planning and public relations efforts. This group was made up of local woman who were passionate about their programs, but also had day jobs and/or kids to look after. They did not have a lot of free time on their hands. However, they were all still very dedicated to keeping the organization alive. My experience in PR was needed to help them push the programs that made an impact in the community. 

The awesome thing about volunteering is that you have the opportunity to learn from others with a different background than your own. You can use these experiences to help you become a better story teller (awesome writers can tell an awesome story). Not to mention, your role may extend to other positions allowing you to get lots of hands-on exposure, something that happens often with non-profit organizations. With this internship alone, I helped with online copy writing, graphic design, event planning, budgeting, grassroots organization and social media. This is what volunteering can help you do:

    • Become a better project manager
    • Force you to think outside the box to find untapped resources
    • Keep your skills updated (writing, graphic design, public speaking, you name it!)
    • Network with people from different backgrounds

 Research more about the industry – Stay in the know

If you don’t know anything about the industry you want to work in, you should at least know how to ask questions. Having a sense of curiosity is important for developing an expertise of any kind. You may not feel like you have enough experience or knowledge for landing that first job. But if you are serious about your career, you will always be doing some kind of research.

One thing I remember not knowing enough about before applying for jobs was the type of gigs that made sense for me to apply for. What kind of public relations did I want to do and what field can I do it in? With a communications degree, a person has the opportunity to land into many industries or niche markets. Realizing this, I set out to fully understand not only what niche of PR I was interested in and also what type of positions an entry-level candidate can like me could land. I came across the book Careers in Communications by Shonan Noronha (McGraw-Hill, 2005). It lays out potential industries and job positions a person can land in the vast world of communications. Here I’ve listed a few ways to learn about a new topic or field of interest: 

    • Follow the experts – find out who are the industry experts and follow their blogs, sign up for their newsletters, read the books they recommend, etc. Be slightly obsessed with learning from them!
    • Use your local libraries and search engines to find new books by industry leaders
    • Join groups/follow pages on LinkedIn related to your industry – This is a more professional avenue rather than just following social media blogs. On LinkedIn, you will be able to interact with other serious professionals, dedicated to their careers. 
    • Request and hold informational interviews with other seasoned professionals or small organizations
    • Find an organization that you want to work for or a business professional that you want to get to know. Send them a well-versed email, requesting to job shadow or hold an informational interview. If you get a response, you’re a winner!

This is my experience on how to be an awesome waiter. I encourage you to share your own experiences here or write a blog and shoot me the link! I never pass up an opportunity to learn from others and neither should you. You are never too young to learn something new, so continue seeking opportunities to grow.  Thanks for reading, folks! Happy waiting…

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