Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Times are tough. . .but worry, anxiety, and fear don't get you a job

Yes, times are tough. Granted, the stock market is up as I write this post and over the last few days has shown signs of stability, if not tentative steps upward. Yet the impact of recent economic troubles is being felt in new ways every day -- particularly in the job market, in ways that are of keen interest to MBA students looking for internships and full-time positions.

Today I learned from a student that Marcus and Millchap, a real estate investment brokerage company, canceled its rotational program for MBA graduates for the next three years. Trammel Crow, another company in the same industry, postponed plans to start such a program. Wells Fargo Bank has opted not to offer MBA internships in 2009. And the list goes on to include news of layoffs far and near, with potentially devastating consequences for people we know (and many we don't).

What's the natural response to such news? Fear, worry, and anxiety. Fear that MBA jobs and internships won't be available come May, 2009, worry as to what students can and will do, and anxiety over the decision to step away from the world of work to continue an education.

I completely understand such responses. I've had them myself for much of my life, in response to challenges I've faced. Yet finally I learned the cold, hard truth: fear, worry, and anxiety do not help you get what you want. They only beget more fear, worry, and anxiety -- and as a result you're paralyzed. You're frozen in a state that precludes any positive steps, in other words, any progress towards meeting a goal.

The only solution is ACTION -- and that's what I advocate for students facing a difficult job market. Get into action NOW. That means working hard to get clear about what you want in a job or internship. That means reaching out to people who hold the kind of job you think you want, or who work at companies in which you're interested, and setting up informational interviews to learn more. That means taking advantage of all your networks -- the USF MBA network, your undergraduate network, your personal network -- to engage in conversations with people as part of your process of exploration, clarification of goals, strategic action, and, ultimately, application for jobs that represent a good fit for your interests and abilities. That means partnering with your fellow students to provide mutual support and advice during the job search. It means, bottom line, that you expend whatever available time and energy you have in your job search -- the sooner, the better.

I'm here to help you develop and implement your plan of ACTION. And while I empathize with the challenges one faces in looking for work in today's market -- having been through many frustrating experiences in looking for work over the years -- my sympathy has limits. There's simply no substitute, shortcut, or excuse for anything but ACTION if you plan to find work.

That MBA student who relayed the information on Marcus and Millchap to me epitomizes this commitment to action. He considered this news as another step in his path to finding suitable work upon graduation, and he persists in his effort despite such roadblocks. Will he succeed? I don't have a crystal ball, but I'd place my money on him. That's how he found an internship. Is he more likely to succeed than the student who delays his search, or spends time bemoaning the state of the economy? Absolutely!

No comments: