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Lean Forward to Find Work

Lean forward. Put your hand out. Let the person know you are interested in their company. When TD Bank came to run an event at Westfield State University in Massachusetts and senior Chelsea Decoteau was working in the lobby for the Director of Student Activities, she did just that. She introduced herself and said, “I want to get into banking.”  And she kept saying it in polite letters, emails and phone calls. When a position opened up near her home in Pelham, Massachusetts, the branch manager called her in and she was hired within five minutes. Why? The hiring manager was impressed by her persistence. Her four-year tenure at the college bookstore, including supervisory work, helped her find work, too.

This summer Chelsea began working as an entry-level teller earning $11/hour and guaranteed 30 hours per week. Quarterly performance-based bonuses offer additional upside. After quickly proving herself, Chelsea was filling in at five other branches and expanding her hours. She loves working at TD Bank.  “I’ve been dealing with money and people since I was 16,” she said, so banking is a natural fit. “TD is a great company to build a career with, as they invest in their employees with training, certification programs, tuition reimbursement, etc.,” Chelsea says excitedly.

With a clearly delineated career path and many opportunities for advancement, banking can be a great career choice for new college graduates trying to find work. In seven months Chelsea was promoted to a permanent teller position with benefits.  By year’s end she hopes to move up to head teller at $13/hour*.  Branch managers earn approximately $50,000 annually and she can see herself in that position within four or five years.

Of Chelsea’s six closest friends at Westfield State, only two have full-time jobs that relate to their majors. The other four are cobbling together jobs to pay the bills while searching for that career-making junior position. Career Services at Westfield State doesn’t offer much in the way of help, according to Chelsea, which is why networking is key.

find workChelsea’s parting advice is to narrow your search to an industry. Hiring managers want people who are hungry to build a career in their industry. Candidates who are looking for a job (any job) will find it hard to be convincing when the interviewer starts asking about why this job and their company. Talk to your professors from your major to see what fields are a natural fit. Connect with alums who majored in your area and ask for suggestions. Ask people to describe their jobs to you. Once you have a direction, get in front of some people in that field and ask them to mentor you. Most people are nice and remember what it was like to get the first job. So, the 1 percent that you actually reach could turn out to be gold. And they may say something that leads you to the job that is just right for you.

CareerFuel has the direction college students need and has profiled many, like Chelsea, who have succeeded in being on the right side of the numbers: the 50% of recent college graduates with employment in their field. Visit our College Forum to ask questions and network. For more inspiration meet Larry, Joe, Heather, and Juan—recent college graduates who defied the numbers by being smart about their job search.

*Peoples Bank offered Chelsea a head teller position in April.  TD Bank created an assistant head teller position to keep her. Demonstrating loyalty to a bank she loves and to an employer who gave her a start, she accepted TD’s offer.

Informational interview can be one way to lean forward. Check out how this Millennial made her interviews work to land a dream job.

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