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What I Would Tell My 22-Year-Old Self About How to Kickstart A Career

15 July, 2016

2016-06-13Karen DeVigili, CEBer since 2014
I remember the butterflies in my stomach as I drove home from graduation, cap and gown on the passenger’s seat, my car packed with my worldly possessions in the late spring heat. Every racing thought I had seemed to lead back to the same question: “What now?” Most of my peers had plans- internships, grad school, or full-time jobs lined up, and I was moving back home with my mother. As I pulled up to my house, I sighed in wishful thinking: “If only I knew what happens next. How do I start my career?”

Fast-forward about two and a half years to October 1st, 2015. In the middle of a busy workday at CEB’s Member Support Center, I received a call from an internal recruiter with an offer for a Communications and Engagement Associate role at CEB. To say I was excited was an understatement. I had become increasingly interested in the communications field post-graduation and had been searching for a way in. After accepting the offer, my mind raced back to the moment outside my house, fresh off the campus lawn and longing to know what happens next. If I could travel back in time to speak to that girl, here’s what I would say.

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Dear Karen,

A lot of exciting changes in your career will take place in the next three years. You will find a field that keeps you engaged and curious and a company that encourages professional growth and development. As you suspected and were always reminded, every interview, role, and experience along the way will teach you valuable lessons. Here is my advice to you:

Networking makes all the difference. When searching for a job, it’s tempting to take the cautious approach of sitting at a coffee shop, submitting as many applications as you can. However what you’ve heard about networking is true. It really works, and it is one of the most important tools in finding a job. It was through a referral that I was able to get a position at CEB, a company that nurtured my personal growth and development. It was through this support and development that I was able make a lateral move and land a position in the communications field. Referrals aren’t just useful in getting you an interview; they also give you ample opportunity to get the inside scoop on a company and hear directly from someone who works there if the culture will support your growth.

When you do get interviews, never underestimate the power of enthusiasm. At this point in your career, your eagerness to learn, intellectual curiosity, and enthusiasm are your most valuable traits. Use your interview jitters to your advantage. During my interview for my currently role, I remember smiling so hard my cheeks hurt. This enthusiasm should also follow you past the interview and with every new project you tackle. At CEB, I have ventured out of my comfort zone to help plan events, learn new software skills, and work on my presentation and public speaking skills. As with the interview process, ironically it was the nerves and jitters that transformed into pure enthusiasm to help me tackle these challenges.

Evaluate the company, because finding a good fit goes both ways. In addition to learning more about a company through someone who works there, you should also find out what a company has to say about what they can offer you. For example, CEB’s Employee Value Proposition page, and mission statement resonated with me. As you review these resources, ask yourself these questions:

I know this is a lot to think about, and finding your first job sounds daunting. But it’s far more possible than you think to find a job you enjoy and a company that supports your growth. Trust me, you’ll find it. And in its own way, that job may even let you travel back in time and assuage your fears.

If you’re interested in joining CEB, check out our Careers Page and Global Career Map for open positions.

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