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GMU Professor Offers Advice in Starting a New Career

Don't stress! Here's some advice.

Written by GMU student Sarah Fleming-Dahl.

College is supposed to prepare you for a career, but what is supposed to prepare you for getting that career? How do you choose? Selecting a career can be stressful, especially for soon-to-be graduates. With so many options, how do you know what career will suit you and if you will be satisfied?

The truth is that transitions don’t need to be stressful. Thoughtful? Yes, but in an exciting way. This is a chance to see all of the choices and find a job that can get you on a great career path.

There are some myths that go along with finding a career after college:

  • There is only ONE career for me.
  • I will be pigeonholed into a career whether I enjoy it or not.
  • I need more and more information before choosing a career.
  • My job must match my major.

If thoughts like these have entered your mind, panic might seem like the most logical reaction, but think again!

Meet Steve Klein. He has been a professor at George Mason University for 10 years. At Mason, Klein teaches journalism classes, where students learn the basics of how to write journalism articles. He has had many experiences in his career before deciding to teach at Mason and those experiences give Klein an interesting and refreshing teaching style. In his classes, Klein has a real-world attitude. Late papers don’t make it to the press and that’s how the business goes. Through his classes, students get a small taste of what post-graduation will be like.

Klein started writing while he was still an undergraduate in Wisconsin. He wrote for the campus news as well as focusing on sports columns. From there, Klein followed jobs as they came along.

“My career followed a natural progression,” Klein said. He was working in press, but could see that it was slowing down as technology quickened its pace. Klein left print for the growing online news business. As he was working with online news, he received the offer to come teach at Mason. His career was never set in stone. Even now, Klein is still growing in his profession. At the end of this year, Klein will be teaching a class called “Journalism for the Rest of Us” for the Northern Virginia Writing Project, targeting students K-12.

So what can a new or soon-to-be graduate take away from this? Here are some tips to make the transition from college to career as smooth as possible.

  • Attend workshops for interview skills.
  • Build an outstanding resume and cover letter. This is your first impression. Make sure you know what you are doing.
  • Constantly update and tailor your resume with relevant information.
  • Start getting your works published and create a portfolio. These are tangible things you can show future employers.
  • Get your name out there. Go to job fairs, meet potential employers.
  • Internships are plentiful and diverse. They are a great resume builder and show employees you have real working experience. Do this and you will have an edge over competing graduates.

“Education is life-long. If you stand still, no matter how good you are, you will fall behind," he said.

Klein offers a metaphor to emphasize this. Imagine you’re driving. If you are unhappy in the lane you’re in and you want to change, it’s pretty much impossible to do it from a dead stop. There are plenty of other people zooming by and will run you over.

Have patience, be positive, speed up and get in there.

Berniece Dahl December 12, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Sarah, I love it. Good for you. I'm printing it out to take to Phoenix so Aunt Sue, Uncle Joe, Uncle Tom, Deanli, Zarya, and Nicholas can read it. Oh my goodness, 2 buttons just popped off my shirt!!!! Am I ever proud of you!!! Nana

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