Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m concerned about my son who is a senior in college. He told me that most of his friends have done internships (mostly virtually), and they have already been offered jobs when they graduate this coming year. He is an art history major, has not done internships and has no idea what he wants to do when he graduates. Advice? — Contessa
J.T.: An art history degree is difficult, in that, on the surface, it may not seem like there are a lot of transferable skills. If he’s not looking to work in a museum or go on for some sort of advanced degree, then he should meet with the career counselors at school and start to inventory his skill sets. One of the biggest mistakes college students make is not doing enough self-assessment to understand how they’d like to create value at work. Just because you’re interested in a subject and do well in it in school, it doesn’t mean you would do that for a job. The sooner he figures out the skill sets to leverage in a paid position, the sooner he could start to find job opportunities and even possibly do an internship this year to prepare him for finding a full-time job upon graduation.
DALE: Meanwhile, there’s no need to blame art history. It turns out that nearly three-quarters of college grads take a job outside their major. Less reassuring is another stat: 41% of recent grads are underemployed in the sense that they’re working at jobs that don’t require a degree. (Both numbers are from a Federal Reserve Bank of New York study.) One way to avoid being underemployed is to do internships, because those are firms that want college grads and use interns as trial employees. While it may be too late for your son to land an internship, the good news is that his friends did, and they are all potential connections to organizations who hire recent grads. In addition to working with the school’s career center, he can conduct his own background research among his friends, and among yours, too. Now is a great time to set him up to visit with people you admire; not to ask for a job, but to ask for reflections on career decisions and on finding meaning in work. Urge him to follow the energy.
J.T.: If you see your son struggling, I would encourage him to check out the free resources at workitdaily.com. We’ve worked with thousands of college students online and helped them determine not only what to look for in a job, but also how to design a résumé and other tools to find that first job out of school.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I worked for my boss during the entire pandemic, and we didn’t hire anybody. Multiple times, he told me he was worried that business would go under. Now, business is booming again, and he’s hiring. He asked me to train the newbies and as I was working with one, I found out that the person is making more than me. I’m furious. What can I do? — Chase
DALE: This situation has been coming up a lot lately, and I’m beginning to think that some employers have developed a Lost Year mindset: It’s like they started fresh when the economy began to reopen. What should you do? Be happy. You just need to get yourself refreshed like a stalled website and move your boss’s thinking about you into the new economy, post-pandemic.
J.T.: To do that, put a list together of all the things that you accomplished during the pandemic for your organization. Then sit down with your boss and explain that you stuck by him and created a lot of value and that you have learned that the new hires are making more than you. I would ask him what it will take for you to have your pay adjusted. The key is to stay calm, stay reasonable and really sell your value. Hopefully, he will be able to see what’s going on and rectify the situation.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2021 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.