Be Career Minded from the Start



On my previous post, We do More than Flipping Burgers, I promised to continue discussion on one of the key barriers to getting a decent job after college. I also mentioned  that I’ll provide suggestions that  individuals who are under-employed or underpaid could consider. I’ve done just that in this post.

Let’s recap on my explanation of asymmetry of information:

Asymmetry of information, as aforementioned, encompasses the issues of obtaining misleading information on career choice that is fraught with parents and families’ expectations and their desires for that student. It may also mean that the student disregard and/or misinterpret labor market intelligence, thus select a major with wrong and mismatched expectation.   Additionally, it may include the lack of what I call career mindedness which is an asset to every minority student in college.

What had been mostly emphasized by many colleges are students’ academic performances which are measured by GPA, but how the students tailor their learning to make a living in short and long run is a serious aspect of education that is unfortunately maltreated. Although education had been widely accepted as the most significant vehicle to higher social mobility status, with the  political and economic realities of our society, unless minority students pick up the race from the day one in college by navigating their career paths, they might become poorer than they were before college.

Here are my suggestions :

  • Choose a major at the intersection of career interest and job prospect.
  • Enter college with a clear career goal; if possible, create a physical map to guide you as you go along.
  • Talk to the professors in your chosen field (this shouldn’t be a quick 3 minutes talk after class. Schedule an appointment during their office hours). You are building professional or mentor/mentee relationships by doing so.
  • Schedule and meet with your school career advisers if your school has any (caution: some schools’ career counselors need counseling themselves:)! so use judgment).
  • Be career minded. You may be striving for higher academic GPA, participating in student leadership and other campus life activities, or engaging in one research or another, but never forget that having a job after graduation is key. Be conscious of this at all times.
  • Always engage in a thought process of how you could interpret your newly acquired knowledge or skill in a semester into dollar value.
  • Apply for an internship (consider my suggestions on internships on We do More than Flipping Burgers).
  • Stay out of crime. Don’t get caught up in a wrong place at the right time or vice-versa. Although article 23A protects you from discrimination from employment if you have criminal record(s), but you’ll be surprised.
  • Above all, network, network, and network (Read the book: Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi).

If you are underpaid, chances are that you are under-employed. It’s a different ballgame of negotiation with your boss if you are not under-employed, but you believe you are being underpaid.

My Suggestions to the Underpaid:

It’s pathetic to suggest that you should continue working hard, but it seems the most logical if you are not considering quitting. You need to continue to acquire as much knowledge as you could gather at your place of work. The base of knowledge and skills you gained would be useful in negotiating a suitable salary with your next employer. In addition, you will essentially become the bank of knowledge at your place of work. This means it would cost your boss more to replace you if you leave, hence it becomes a value that might make him/her consider giving you a raise once you make your case.

My Suggestions to the Under-Employed:

  • Never settle psychologically. You know where you belong, so do your job, but continue hunting for what you truly deserve. Keep your head up!
  • If the work environment permits you, take initiatives. Discuss with your boss on how you could use your knowledge and skill to take them from where they are to another better point.
  • Develop a scorecard on your skills and abilities (remember this also includes what your personality can make happen in dollar value).
  • Learn how to put your scorecard down on your resume and cover letter in a way that markets you.
  • Learn, practice and get better on how to sell yourself (have family member interview you based on the ideal job you are looking for. Be sure to record yourself on tape. Play the recording and see if anyone would ‘buy’ you with your desired salary based on the way you’ve interviewed.
  • Improve in your interview preparation and skills – Learn from past mistakes and hold yourself accountable to be better.


I’ve seen  a lot of frustrations that come with  lack of job after college including  the experiences that are close to home and  those  of my clients. At the end, everything seems to boil down to this: we’ve been told that college is all about learning, but really it’s all about job and career. A minority student that maintains this stance from the beginning would struggle less for job after college.

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