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On First Jobs, Rocket Science, and Lessons Learned

By Chandlee Bryan

Where you go to school will never get you a job; what you choose to do with your education will.

This is my first post for Job-Hunt.org, and I'm excited to share with you the trends that intrigue me as well as best practices and job search strategies.

So that you know where I'm coming from, here are a few fast facts about me:

  • First Job: Framing pictures in a do-it-yourself frame shop. I broke a lot of glass, but learned how to cut mats and operate heavy machinery.

    The Career Take-Away: How you frame things can be just as important as what is inside. This is true from job applications and interviews to how you communicate with others on the job. Providing a sense of context about what you're working on and how you've worked in the past, enables people to better understand you and what you offer.
  • First Job Post College: Working for Astronauts! I spent three years working for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a professional association of aerospace engineers and rocket scientists. 

    The Career Take-Away: No one is smart enough to make a rocket by themselves, great rocket scientists are exceptionally good communicators.
  • I've been inside the “Ivory Tower” and have been on the other side of the hiring desk. Before starting my own business, I spent eight years working in career offices at Ivy League Schools and worked as a recruiter.

    The Career Take-Away: Where you go to school will never get you a job, what you choose to do with your education will. Even at Ivy League schools in a strong economy, fewer than 40% of students—on average—graduate and move into jobs they learned about through on-campus recruiting. To be successful, you need to apply what you've learned in and outside the classroom and scout out opportunities on your own as well. Internships are also essential.

I may be designated as an “expert” for Job-Hunt.org, but one of the biggest lessons I've learned over my career is that expertise is community driven—sharing resources strengthens both our own knowledge base, and increases our ability to help others. In the coming months, I'll pass along trends, best practices, and wisdom from other career practitioners, entry-level job seekers, and in-role working experts. In the words of Alice in Wonderland, I grow "curiouser and curiouser" all the time, and I'll share what I learn with you.


About the author...

E. Chandlee Bryan, M.Ed.(@chandlee and Google+) is a career advisor at Dartmouth College. A certified career coach and resume writer, Chandlee's experience includes working as a recruiter, facilitating one of Manhattan's largest job search meetups, and serving as the resume expert for a national Microsoft campaign. She is a co-author of The Twitter Job Search Guide (JIST 2010).