An Introduction of Sorts

December 16, 2011

For my first blog entry, I just wanted to take the chance to say “howdy” and introduce myself to the online community or “blogosphere” if you are literate in or familiar with the funny words that people have created to identify certain online activities or places.  (Seriously though, who comes up with these things?)

The basics:  I am Mel, a former serial job seeker with a great interest in travel that was fortunate enough to land a position with a company that actually specializes in helping people 1) find jobs and 2) travel.  You are already spellbound I can tell and I haven’t even gotten to the exciting information about me yet, (I love peas).

Having been fortunate enough to land a job when so many others out there are finding it difficult, I wanted to offer my help and advice to those who are still searching for that ideal job or starting position.  I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without taking the advice of people around me and I feel it is only right to pass along those tidbits of information to the remainder of the general population.

This column will share interesting articles, guidelines, tips, and opportunities that are currently out there all in the hopes that you, yes you, will find something here of use in terms of getting ahead in your career field or furthering your education.

Learning is encouraged.  No matter what stage of your life you are at, you should always be learning. However learning can be dull and nobody wants to sit in a classroom staring at the same four walls forever.  Classrooms do not represent the real world no matter how well instructors and teachers conduct their classes.

Before the educators out there get ready to stone me to death, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge supporter of college/university/any type of formal education; I did four years of college myself and earned an advanced degree at the end of it all.  I am grateful for every day I was able to attend classes and learn the fundamentals of my industry.  I had great professors that used a combination of lectures, group activities, individual assignments, role play situations, videos, slideshows, webinars, you name it.  But at the end of my four years, as confident as I was feeling, those years in school were missing something critical and that was actual workplace experience.

When I started looking for a job, everyone wanted you to have at least 2-4 years of experience even for entry level positions.  I was convinced it was a grand conspiracy against me.  No one would hire me without workplace experience but because no one would hire me, I could not get workplace experience.  In an era where employers want employees to be able to do more but are spending less time on training, it is no wonder that the common complaint among businesses is that there are no skilled workers to be found.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the system changing anytime soon since as you know, managers can be pretty stubborn and set in their ways.  I did find a way around the system though.

Be an intern.

It basically amounts to offering to work for free in a lot of cases (think slave labour but with much better workplace safety and anti-harassment policies) though some people are lucky enough to find paid internship positions depending on their industry.  The way I viewed it however was that I was getting something much more valuable back.  I was being paid not with money, but with hands-on, workplace experience that was tangible and could be put on a resume.  The financial pay-off would come later down the road but after graduation, it was a way to get my foot in the door and that was the key.

The only thing I regret with my education and the path that I took was that I did not take more time to explore and travel.  Maybe you are like me and haven’t ventured outside of your own state/province very often or maybe you have and it was such an addicting thrill that the thought of being forced to stay in one place for too long is depressing.  I wish I had known what I know now that I didn’t have to sacrifice the chance to travel for the chance to learn.

Do the research.  There are dozens of educational travel programs out there.  Whether it is an international internship, an exchange program, educational tourism that takes place over the course of a few days or weeks, there is something out there for my fellow jet setter wannabes that can actually advance your career and add a little bit of interest to your resume.

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