Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Closing Time

Well everyone, this is my last post for now. I’ve graduated again – but this time from Career Investments’ Get-A-Job plan. Yay! I have a new perspective, strategy, and awesome resume – and really appreciate the process!

I graduated from May, and found myself face-planting into the real world sooner than I could say Yippee!! Before it knew it, I felt like Scooby-Doo running away from a monster. You know, when his feet are running like crazy but he’s not moving anywhere? My brother Chris once told me that this is the hardest economy graduates have entered since the Great Depression – and boy, can you feel it!

Despite perseverance, dedication, great grades and a wide variety of experiences to make me competitive competitive, finding a job is extremely challenging. It’s so easy to get caught up in the world and feel like you’re making no headway. You realize your to-do list is bigger than what you’ve accomplished, and your unemployment status eats away at your confidence.

I found it invaluable to have someone point me in the right direction and give me the tools I needed to make real progress. I feel much more empowered and capable than before – and have even had some interviews! I’ll take what I learned from Career Investments with me for life (because as much as I hate to admit it, chances are I’ll face another job lull at some point). And even though things constantly change, what I learned from Career Investments can be applied universally.

So, as I bid you adieu for the time being, I want to thank Kathleen, Eric, Jim and Tara at Career Investments for all the support and advice they’ve given me. I hope you’ve found this helpful, humoring, and homey. I just really wanted to throw in a third h-adjective. But really, I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing my experience in learning some helpful tools for a job search – and thank you for joining me on my adventure!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Garden

Now that I’m thinking about what’s important and unique to showcase, and have some strategy – it’s now time to tackle presentation.  A.k.a…my resume.  Kathleen, Jim and Tara at Career Investments are not just resume writers – they have expertise in highlighting what’s important, and creating impact in every aspect of the job search.

There are a few important things Kathleen told me to know about resumes: (1) A resume is like a piece of art, so naturally everyone is going to have an opinion.  (2) It’s really easy to overload a resume.  People don’t just go to school for school anymore – you better be involved in activities too!  But, overload the resume and you’ll overload the people reading it.  (3) A resume should be treated like a garden.  As Jim once said in a presentation, you have to clean out the weeds and shrubs so that the prize roses can be seen.  Not to say that activities shouldn’t be put on a resume, but it’s how you design it.  You don’t want your weeds coming before the roses.

The first thing Kathleen had me do in this meeting, was write down three adjectives or phrases someone just looking at my resume would think.  Then she had me write down three adjectives or phrases I wanted people receiving it to think.  Then she wrote down three things she wanted to highlight.  Of the nine, she then had me pick three.  I chose high-potential, award-winning presenter at a national competition, and advertising agency plus corporate marketing experience.  They all happened to be hers.  Based on that, we rearranged my resume to feature the roses.  We didn’t get rid of anything, but we made sure the roses came before the trimmed shrubs.

Oh! I forgot to tell you guys the other day, but another thing Kathleen has me working on is un-packaging common words or phrases to really paint a picture for someone.  The first thing she had me un-package was the phrase Having it All Together.  What did that really mean to me?  That exercise worked because I’ve found myself saying that “I have the ability to express ideas and concerns”, rather than just saying “I’m a good communicator”.  That way, I give people an idea of what I’m really saying – and it sounds much more impressive.  Steps in the right direction!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time to Strategize

Getting back to being a college graduate in the real world, my first post where I listed off just a few questions that have run through my mind these last couple months, show just how crazy it is trying to put my life together.  My to-do list for getting a job is so long – it’s hard to know where to start!  It’s terrifying!  Each week I make a to-do list to complete in 5 days.  Some weeks I dominate the list, daring it to give me another challenge.  Other weeks I would look at it think, “well, I accomplished 2 of my 20 things… that’s good, right?”

Hence, the importance of strategizing.  A tool Kathleen suggested for managing the list is to break it down.  Every night before going to bed, I should write down the 5 things I want to accomplish the next day.  Growing my network is a huge to-do.  So, break it down.  One day I’ll look for an IES Abroad alumni group in Chicago.  I studied abroad through that group, and want to move to Chicago for advertising – chances are someone who did their program is in advertising or knows someone.  With this, not only am I strategizing how to tackle my ever-present to-do list, but also how to grow my network.  I’m beginning to realize that as I continue through Career Investments’ program, I’m starting to think about things that are important to the interview/job process, in a strategic way.  Slowly but surely, I’m developing My Plan - and the Real World is becoming a little less scary. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The In-between and Chasing Dreams

What’s so amazing about Career Investment’s program is that they draw from so many influences.  They use books, tests, you name it, to create an incredibly dynamic, well-rounded and successful program.  All these influencing sources have helped me dig deeper and have encouraged me to really think about things.  As ready as I was to graduate and never have a homework assignment again, the homework Kathleen gives me between meetings is quite helpful, and – as much as I’m shocked to say this – Exciting!  It’s helped me rethink some things, or realize what have overlooked. 

I spent my holiday weekend tackling my first homework assignment - thinking of my top three dream jobs.  What would I do if there were no limitations?  First, and most relevant, I want to be a Creative Director at a big-time agency, and do a national campaign for an exciting company, like Nike.  I would love to walk down the street and see a creative tactic, or see an ad on TV that I helped create.  Second, I would be a horse trainer.  I love how I feel completely free on a horse, and like everything is in my control – though it’s really not.  Another bonus is that you get immediate gratification for your work.  As soon as the horse moves how you want it to, even just for an instant, you get excited.  My third dream job is to be a photographer, taking pictures of whatever I want, wherever I want.  I could travel the world, capturing it by a lens not only to remember later, but also to share and help bring the world to others.

As disconnected as my three dream jobs seem to be – it was interesting what Kathleen said about them.  My dream to be a horse trainer speaks to my love of working on a team and achieving greater outcomes.  My dream to be a photographer speaks to my fascination with culture and experiences, and capturing them – which connects to my dream of being a Creative Director where I could influence culture with advertisements.  Anyone else getting chills?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I’m the kind of person that likes to think of myself as put together.  In my couple months after graduation there have been times where I’ve been…not quite put together.  From a part-time fun summer job falling through, to finding mushrooms growing out of my carpet, to realizing I have a month before my lease is up and won’t have a place to live, to – oh yeah, about that job search…. things have been a little crazy.  

I want to create the best opportunity and strongest first step for myself – but it’s taken me a lot longer than originally anticipated.  I had my first meeting with Kathleen, Founder of Career Investments, today and I felt the empowerment and step in the right direction.  One of my biggest ah hah!s from it, is that even having graduated with a degree in advertising, I had forgotten the importance of how we brand ourselves. 

One of the first things Kathleen asked me to do, was list four things that I’m known for.  The four things I put didn’t paint the impressive, desirable personal brand I was wanting.  I’ve done things that would make a future employer think, “wow!” – but that’s not what I thought of.  I wasn’t in the mindset of looking at what I’ve accomplished that really makes me stand out.  I had completely forgotten the unique things that I’m known for – like being part of presenting an award-winning campaign at a national competition, and my leadership roles in my sorority – and instead, I put qualities like “caring”, and “great communicator”.

I need to start thinking about myself in a way that really showcases my abilities and achievements in a unique way.  What does Kate Chamness have that no one else does? (Other than my totally baller personality).  Without changing my thinking, and creating a vision of how I want to be perceived, it would be impossible for me to stand out and present myself in the way I want to.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Hello, Real World. I'm Kate."

It’s a normal expectation that after college you “enter” the real world.  Well… for some, (ie: yours truly) we don’t exactly gracefully step over the line dividing College and the Real World.  Oh no.  For graduates who don’t have a job lined up come graduation, the celebratory boot we receive is quite similar to how a baby bird gets nudged from the nest when it’s time to fly. 

Whether we land on our face, or find our wings depends on one thing – The Plan.  Our Plan.  The Woohoo-I-Just-Graduated-But-Now-What-The-Heck-Do-I-Do??? Plan.  Do I move back home? What job do I get?  Are the mushrooms growing out of the carpet in my house bad? Where do I look for a career?  How do I get my size 10 foot in the door (especially when it’s not open very wide in the first place)!

I went to a good school, had a good GPA, and was involved in a number of organizations both academic and social.  Now that I’ve graduated having done my part I’m wondering – where’s my job???  If only we were back in the days where you can walk in somewhere and say, “Hi, I’d like to work here”, and boom! get hired.  Now you have to know someone who can get you in.  Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with parents who are willing to market me to people they know – just in case a contact or job opportunity is the result.  They’re my advertisers, cheering squad, resume and portfolio editors, and my support.  It would be easier if I was home, or at least in the same time zone – three hours difference can be quite the pain when you’re trying to get a resume ready in less than 24 hours – but they are always there for me, helping me make connections and get an edge.

Bottom line, whether we’d like to admit it or not, we need guidance.  While parents are a blessing, and career counselors from school are a great resource – we need someone from the outside.  Someone who takes the time and looks at you as you, not someone from College X.  Someone to help you think about things that you overlook.  Lucky for me, I found a group of people that do just that.  What started as a puppy-sitting job for Kathleen and Eric, turned into a part-time internship in their office.  As if I could get any luckier, they also want me to go through their program so that I fully understand what their business is about.  What a gift!! 

So, in case you couldn’t already tell, this blog is about my experience going through Career Investments’ Get-A-Job Plan for college graduates, and creating My Plan.  I’ve been fumbling through time trying to create it, so I’m willing to take all the help I can get!