“When I Grow Up I Want To Be…” The Key to Getting Your Very Own ‘Dream’ Job

Dream (noun.): A cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal. We used to question our parents about them after a night of sleep, what did that dream mean? Now as educated, inspired, young adults, our dreams are concrete. As we count the days towards graduation, a distinct dream at the forefront of our minds is getting a job or, if we’re really motivated, getting our dream job.

But what constitutes our dream job? For some, it’s a livelihood that we don’t wish to escape from, and for others it’s an opportunity to bring in the cash. But we sometimes come to find that dreams may not always come true, especially when we’re faced with reality.

Once our credits are complete and the tassels are turned, we can either apply for graduate school or apply for a job. But the professional world is a competitive place forcing us to extend our feelers in multiple directions. Days, weeks, and months may go by without ever hearing from companies whom we’ve tried to woo with our entire life experience on a single sheet of paper.

But there’s also a high chance that we’re one of the preferred candidates who gets called back for an interview. When we do finally become the fish hooked in the bay, the question is whether or not we should allow ourselves to get reeled in or fight against the current and swim the opposite way in hopes of a better offer.

After you’ve spent the past 16 years or more in school, receiving your first job offer can be electrifying. If you’ve studied science, you now have an in depth understanding of the inner workings of the brain and other systems in the body. If you’re a photographer, you know the difference between ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Or maybe you’ve studied business, and you are confident in your strategic marketing plan. Whichever the skill, you are ready to show the world what you’re made of.

Equipped with the necessary skills, college graduates might say it’s a no-brainer to jump at that first job offer. Ellen Reilly, a job placement director at the University, said, “There is always something that can be learned from a first job, which can provide you with experience you don’t already have. That being said, you won’t know what that is until you give it a try.” Taking a first job offer may be considered ‘settling’ to one person, but a kick-starter move to another.

William Hill, Assistant Dean for Career Services at the University, said, “Your first job is a learning experience and should act as a springboard to the next, better opportunity. It is to your advantage to get into the workforce as soon as possible, rather than hold out. Once in the workforce, your chances of making a connection that will lead to your dream job go up significantly.”

But for those who step a little more cautiously into the work world, we may find ourselves wondering what comes next. The best thing to do for those holding out for their dream job is to come prepared.

“Don’t be discouraged, it is a job to get a job. Have a job search tool kit ready (strong resume, cover letter, interview preparation, LinkedIn profile, etc.) and a strategy in place,” Reilly recommended.

Ray Bogan, a recent University graduate of communication, believes hard work and perseverance should start as a student to get closer to your dream job.

“Start putting out work on a professional level now at college. Work under the same time crunch, put out the same quality you would have to and hold yourself to the same standards you would have in the job you’re reaching for. It will help you develop faster…” Bogan advised.

He mentioned that when applying for jobs, he heard the word ‘no’ more often than not. “Don’t be afraid to hear no,” Bogan said. “Learn how to handle it, how to ask questions on what you could have done better and thank the person regardless.”

Part of what makes us ready for a job is the ability to handle unfortunate situations. And while we can’t control what is thrown at us while job hunting, we can make sure that we are the utmost prepared for anything that comes our way.

“Graduation is the first step in a long journey. It may sound trite, but be patient, work hard and success will come,” Hill said. Maybe the dream isn’t the job; maybe it’s about the journey you face in order to reach that point of success.

“So if you get that dream job and it’s not everything you dreamed it would be, think back and remember exactly what you dreamed of. If you dreamed […] nothing but glory, you weren’t being fair to yourself. And if you can only do a job for the glory, you shouldn’t be doing it at all,” Bogan noted.