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In Part 1 of our conversation with Assistant Dean of Student Development and Career Initiatives and also director of the LSA Opportunity Hub, Dr. Joslyn Johnson, we debunked three myths and discussed topics like reflecting on your toolkit of skills, welcoming growth as an antidote to the confusion of navigating life postgrad, and finding the differences between passion and purposeful work.
Today we are going to take a look at three additional myths, so let’s dive into today’s Part 2 conversation.
Myth #4: Because of my life’s circumstances, I have limited options and therefore I’m unable to succeed.
Fact: Even if my life circumstances are difficult, access to campus resources like the Hub’s services and the University of Michigan’s alum network can help ‘fill the gaps’ and expand my network of people and opportunities — so that I can succeed.
“If you don't have the personal connections at home or the social capital that you think would be helpful, remember that there's a whole LSA and broader Michigan alum network that’s there to support you: it may not feel like your own initially, but I encourage students to recognize that there's someone who has a similar background or who has been through similar experiences and can be helpful in navigating this process,” says Dr. Johnson.
To find like-minded alums to have these career conversations with, students can join LSA Connect, the college’s career networking and mentoring platform.
Some students may struggle with financial security throughout college, needing to support themselves and in some cases their families at home. This is an important piece of looking at career opportunities.
“If having a certain salary is really important, from a financial security standpoint and from a family standpoint, then there's no shame in that,” Dr. Johnson states. “I think we do students a disservice when we ignore the financial realities. So, it's important to figure out the pathways that allow you to explore. Because really, our job as the Hub is to think about which pathway is going to provide you the best level of support, how we can utilize the alum network in that process, while also understanding the financial needs of every student too, and really working together with students on that process.”
If you are grappling with some financial barriers, Dr. Joslyn Johnson reminds students about Hub resources services that can make career exploration more accessible.
“We have resources for funding internships, as well as flash internships, that can help students to get those experiences too. It is another way that we're able to help students pursue transformative opportunities without that financial burden.”
Myth #5: I’ll just go to grad school to figure out what I want to do.
Fact: Grad school isn’t something you do to figure out your next steps — it’s something that should be considered deeply and intentionally beforehand.
Be incredibly honest with yourself about why you want to go to grad school and articulate to yourself what you are seeking from that experience.
Today, there’s a cultural sentiment and ad-hoc response that if you’re still exploring careers, it’s good to just keep going to school. That isn’t to say making the decision to go to graduate school is only for people who don’t know what they want to do. One the contrary. But it has become something like a security blanket to pursue further education in the face of career uncertainty.
“I think grad school is great. But if the decision to go is fear-based, then it's not the answer. If it stems from the place of ‘I want to learn more,’ then going to grad school is a wonderful place to gain that knowledge and expertise. If it's from a place of fear, then the next best thing is to learn more about the root of that fear. For example, it could be you being scared of making the ‘wrong’ first career step,” Dr. Johnson shares.
Dr. Johnson affirms that it’s entirely okay to be afraid of making ‘mistakes’ because each step you take is an opportunity to learn more about what you do and don’t like. Some advice she gives is to explore “the grad school question” with the help of a Hub career coach while you’re in undergrad and while you have the time and resources available to you.
Myth #6: Getting rejected during the job search is a negative experience and an overall setback.
Fact: Rejection is an inevitable part of applying to opportunities, and reframing each rejection as an opportunity to grow can help you land an opportunity in the future.
Being ghosted by a recruiter or receiving a rejection email from a company just plain sucks. Putting in that effort to prepare for an interview only to receive a three-line email from an employer saying that they are proceeding with another candidate is an inevitable, albeit unenjoyable, part of the process.
Regardless of how qualified of a candidate you are, you will face rejections. Dr. Johnson related accepting rejection to the mindset of playing offense in basketball.
“Just because someone is playing serious defense or trying to take the ball from me, I’m not going to throw the ball to the side and walk off the court. Because I expect it to happen, I recognize that it’s just a part of the game, so to speak.” she shares. “I know that they're coming and I have prepared myself for defense the best way that I know how. It's a similar mindset: I know that there will be rejections during the job search process so I will mentally gird myself for this eventuality.”
Navigating “no” is a salient part of the journey. Instead of seeing rejections as a setback, we can take these rejections and learn about ourselves and gain experience in the process of job searching.
Dr. Johnson advises students to practice reframing rejection from a barrier into an opportunity. She explains, “What rejection does is it helps to redirect us towards whatever it is that we need to do. For example, if I do an interview and I get feedback about my performance, I can use that feedback to find out something about the way I show up that can actually help me for future interviews.”
By using rejections as motivators for growth, students are able to expand their options rather than shy away from them.
After debunking several persistent myths associated with careers, a lingering question still remains: what should I be doing to be intentional about my career exploration and professional development?
Dr. Johnson provides the answer:
“I’m going to be literal first: as soon as you hit campus during your first-year, I encourage students to connect with the Hub from the very beginning of your undergraduate journey.”
A sentiment central to the Hub’s mission is to meet students where they are at. There is no starting point per se or a predestined path to travel when it comes to exploring career options. It’s just that: a journey and process of discovery and exploration.
Wherever you are in that journey, Hub staff members are ready to connect you to transformative experiences, resources, and opportunities. Hub coaches can help you making meaning of your interests, extracurriculars, experiences, and academics by connecting the dots between these things. Our alum engagement team can connect you with alums that share similar interests and identities and have a bevy of wisdom and advice to share. Our employer engagement team can connect you with employers for internships, recruiting, and job opportunities. And so on. Check out this roadmap to the Hub with suggested places to start based on where you think you might be in your professional development journey.
“If I mention all the areas of the LSA Opportunity Hub, what are you most curious about? There's not a wrong place to start at the Hub. And again, starting as soon as possible is key for making the most of your student experience. But remember -- you're never too late. We don't want to lose anyone. But we really focus on breaking every myth, across the board, really helping students to understand that they do have opportunities, no matter what background they come from,” Dr. Johnson concludes.