By Alan Brady
When we graduate college, we hope that the job fairy will give us a high-paying job at a great company-the day after we get our loan-financed diplomas, no less.
Unfortunately, what usually happens is that we find ourselves sitting in our parents' basements, lamenting the cruelty of fate and resigning ourselves to a part-time job as a barista while we hope for the economy to return to its fabled 1990s state. You know, that time when six-figure jobs fell into the laps of even the most liberal of liberal arts majors-right?
Actually, the world never worked that way, and the way to get ahead now, just like it's always been, is to claw your way forward.
One of the most widely ignored methods of developing yourself professionally is pursuing work in fields that need labor, regardless of whether your qualifications match.
1. You'll grow your confidence
You want your potential employer to think of you as a go-getter, meaning you should look like-and be!-that kind of person. An excellent way to project this kind of attitude is to bring your mismatched skills to your interview and to show how you would apply them to your target job.
Learning how to sell your skills not only allows you to get other jobs in the future; it will also help you actually feel confident about how marketable you are for an employer.
2. You'll develop your general career skills
An important part of working at a "real job" is that you get tangible experience that's important to potential future employers. An interviewer needs to believe that you weren't stuck in life's doldrums, hoping to get swept up by a lucky break. Any job will go a long way toward teaching you how to interact and deal with coworkers, bosses, meetings and bureaucratic power structures.
You'll learn a lot of useful things about the working world and, more importantly, about yourself. What type of company do you not want to work for? What makes a good boss or a bad boss? How do you negotiate a pay raise or a promotion? These are skills that are transferable to a variety of careers.
3. You'll gain unique qualifications
Consider this: receiving your degree and then getting experience in exactly that field doesn't distinguish you from everyone else who took those same two steps. Higher-level job listings can come with random caveats like "Design Coordinator: Need graphic designer with project management experience" or "Engineering Manager: Masters in Physics with at least two years of management experience."
Wherever you look, you'll find that employers want more skills from you than you could have gathered at school. Broadening your skill set by taking an atypical job will give you qualifications that will allow you to stand out as a candidate for your next job.
Alan Brady is a passionate blogger who spends his time researching and writing about the economy, recent job market trends and business. He is currently writing for the employment lawyers, attorneys.com.
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