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Our Best Advice for New College Graduates

Here in Eugene, Oregon, we are home to the University of Oregon. Our CEO Celeste Edman is a frequent mentor to many at the U of O, and our office is located close to the U of O campus. Maybe this is why everyone in the office feels connected to the class of 2018 U of O graduates—or maybe it’s just because we love the Ducks.

Either way, I wanted to share some advice for new college graduates—especially those hoping to go into digital marketing and technology. Looking back at my own experience in 2011, it was overwhelming to go from being a lifelong student to trying to find jobs. No one had ever really told me exactly how I was supposed to land my first job, or how to get the career of my dreams. There are a lot of lessons to learn in your first few years as a young professional—and here’s the advice to help you tackle them. (And if you aren't already, follow us on Instagram for more tips about being a young professional.)

1. It won’t be immediate.

The hardest thing for me to accept as a new graduate was the idea that my success wasn’t going to be overnight. It’s easy to start feeling like maybe you aren’t as good as you thought you were when you start looking at job requirements—but don’t let that stop you.

That might mean going to extra networking events to mean meeting people in your industry. Taking the receptionist job at the brand you know you want to work for. Working a part-time job while you learn skills you need to land that big interview. Everything in life takes time, sometimes more time than you think.

2. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Social media is how I make my living, personally, so it’s hard to write the next sentence, but: take what you see on social media with a grain of salt. We edit our lives now to such an extent, especially with what we put on social media, that it can be difficult to know what’s real and what isn’t.

If you’re a member of Generation Z, you absolutely know this already: like me, you’ve grown up with social media. But it’s easier to say that than to do it—and when you’re feeling low from rejection, or for working long hours at a job you aren’t sure you love, or trying to land that dream job… it can be easy to look at your friend’s Instagram account and wonder, “Why isn’t my life that great?”

3. Know your worth - you have skills no one else has.

When I graduated in 2011, I was in just the right situation to have more experience with social media that anyone else I worked with. Being the youngest person on staff often led to me being handed social media projects—even when I was a receptionist. Thankfully, this was the work I wanted to do! But one thing I didn’t do right? Asking for pay that went with those social media projects.

Advocating for yourself when it comes to wages can feel really scary. Several years ago, one of my good friends urged me to never ask for a raise, even when I was being given projects that were time consuming, exhausting, and stressful. This is terrible advice. If you’re being handed projects because you have skills no one else does (and as a young member of Generation Z, you absolutely do have skills no one else does right now), ask for a pay raise. The worst they can say is no.

4. Don’t be afraid to apply.

I have a friend who works in college admissions and assists students in finding jobs. The one thing she has to tell them most often is this: a list of qualifications is a wishlist, not a requirement. They might say requirement. But sometimes the right candidate is trainable. Be confident and apply for that job even though it says 5+ years of experience for entry-level, or asks for skills that you aren’t sure you have. You never know what will happen.

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