Where do you start when you’re ready to launch your career?
How do you stand out when applying to an entry-level roles?
And once you’ve landed that awesome career opportunity, how do you keep growing?
The Crash team decided to take on Quora and answer as many career questions as possible–while staying honest, real.
This is a collection of some of our best answers.
I just graduated with a degree I don’t like, now what?
You’re more than your degree.
Just because you studied a particular subject in college doesn’t mean you can’t make a lateral move with your career.
You’re not limited to the bucket college puts people in.
As a starting point, try to identify a few things you enjoy. Don’t worry about “one perfect job” or career path. Just go out and try stuff.
But here’s the thing, when you find something you don’t like, walk away. You’re not tied down. You have the power to choose. To go out and discover what makes you come alive.
What is the best advice for looking for entry-level jobs?
The best way to stand out when you’re applying to an entry-level role is to show your work. Show why they should hire you instead of anyone else.
- Research the company you want to work for.
- Research the role you want at that company.
- Figure out the skills needed for that role.
- Create something that shows you have those skills and/or can learn any skills you might need by doing something (a project, a bit of free work) for the company.
- Pitch what you did to the company.
- Be really fast and genuinely excited.
- Repeat until you land a role you love.
Why should a startup hire recent college grads?
Short answer – they shouldn’t.
At least, not because someone is a college grad.
If you really want to deserve to be hired at a startup, you need more than a degree. You need to prove two things:
- The ability to create value
- The ability to prove you can create value
Step 1: If you learned a lot when you were in college, more power to you. Find a way to put those skills you learned on exhibition. Figure out what skills the job you want requires, then build a project, write a blog series, or identify a business problem and solution.
Step 2: Create a personalized pitch for the business. Highlight your excitement about what they company is doing, why that resonates with you, and how you could leverage your skills (from part 1) to help grow their business.
If you can do those two things successfully – then you will earn your right to request someone’s time to consider you as a candidate.
A degree doesn’t grant you that privilege.
So instead of relying on that stale piece of paper, become your own credential. Step out from the crowd. Do something that’s undeniably valuable for the business you want to work at.
Even if you don’t succeed on your first attempt, you’ll learn from the experience. Plus, you’ll already have an example of how you created value that you can leverage for a different opportunity at a different company.
That’s what makes you worth hiring in today’s world.
What is something simple I can do at my job to get noticed?
Show up early.
Take on extra responsibility while continuing to deliver results.
Focus on building a reputation for doing good work.
Don’t complain – instead find ways to solve problems.
What are some common career landmines people step on?
Two young people are starting their career.
We’ll call them John and Jane.
They’re both 19 years old, holding their first jobs.
John is focused on getting it right the first time.
John is scared he’ll make something that isn’t perfect. He holds back from trying big things that are out of his league because he doesn’t want to mess up.
He’s afraid to show the process of his work because he might be viewed as an imposter.
He doesn’t try many new things, because there are lots of other people more qualified.
Contrast him to Jane.
Jane knows and accepts that failure is a part of life. So that doesn’t hold her back from trying new things.
She just focuses on getting better every day, and growing with each project she completes.
She values feedback, and doesn’t mind her work being criticized.
What are the implications of this?
John wonders in 5 years why he isn’t growing. Meanwhile, Jane has been promoted several times at work, and has taken on numerous side projects for other companies that think she’s cool.
John is just a paper-pusher, doing the same dull thing every day. Jane, on the other hand, is called on to help with any new product development that comes along because people know.
John doesn’t build many skills. Jane keeps producing better and better projects, while learning how to ship them more quickly and more efficiently as every day goes by.
So what’s the biggest career landmine?
The fear of shipping.
How do you overcome this? Start now and develop the rough draft mindset.
How can you learn when you are newly hired to a job?
In time, jumping on chances to help out earned me a reputation as someone who could be relied on. Which in turn opened up more opportunities to help other people.
This meant gaining exposure to more and more areas of the business. And in a fast growing company, the more exposure across more functional areas, the better suited for advancement.
When you start out anywhere – be willing to take on anything. Crush it. Then offer to help even more. Take notes every chance you get. Ask thoughtful questions. Listen. Volunteer for more…
If you want to learn, forget about status. Approach every task – big or small – with equal willingness and you’ll never run out of opportunities.
What are the things that makes one seem impressive in an interview?
I sit in the airport. Around me, there’re people waiting for flights, people getting off flights.
A woman comes up, is looking for seats. I sit a little straighter, pull my bags closer.
She walks toward me.
“Hey,” she says to me. I pick up the slightest bit of an East-Indian accent. “Can I use this seat?” She points to the empty one beside me.
I scoot over. “Sure.”
“Thank you,” she says. Pulls her luggage over, takes a seat. “Can’t believe how busy it is.”
“Big flight,” I say. “Probably busy because of the bad weather last night. Lots of cancellations.
“Yeah. I hope it’s not canceled today. I really can’t miss it.”
Same here. “Yeah. I’ve got a big work thing tomorrow. Seven people to interview.”
“Do you interview people?”
“Sure,” I say. “Lots of times. Few times a week.”
She nods. Pulls her jacket around herself. “Do you have any tips? I’m actually flying to New York for an interview.”
“Oh, nice,” I say. “This flight’s to D.C., though.”
“I know. It’s the next flight. I’m early.”
I lean forward, twist so I can see her better. “Every time I remember someone I’ve interviewed, it’s because they’ve done a few things. Being early is one of them, so good job.”
She pulls out her phone.
“Oh, no,” she says. “Keep going. I’m just going to take notes.”
I point at her phone. “That. That is another thing they all do.”
How can I be better at executing my ideas?
If you want to execute your ideas: you must take action.
Big or small. Fast or slow. You set the pace of your own story.
There’s nothing wrong with the pace that’s set – so long as you maintain control of it.
Don’t worry about the rate of your execution as others interpret it. Bring your ideas to life precisely as quickly or slowly as you feel comfortable with.
But know – each day you wait around, the stronger the temptation of inertia looms to stall your progress.
Do not let it get a foothold. Take one step toward your idea today – big or small. Then another tomorrow. Just one step each day.
And then never miss a day.
Have a question about careers? Ask us, and we’ll see if we can answer!