This summer I connected with some amazing professionals who were willing to share their wisdom. Each profile will feature how their first job out of college led to their amazing careers today (that they love, by the way), as well as their advice to help you do the same.
First Job Profile: Nneka Norville, Senior Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility at BET
1) What was your first job out of college and how did you get it?
My first job out of college was a Publicity Assistant at Columbia Records. I supported three publicists on PR campaigns for up-and-coming and established music artists that were signed to the Urban Music roster. Some notable acts I worked with include Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, The Fugees and Maxwell to name a few.
2) What was the most important thing you learned from your first job?
My first job taught me the importance of maintaining positive working relationships with everyone that you encounter. Although I work in cause marketing now versus publicity, I can still run into a former colleague or supervisor and have a positive experience because I fostered those relationships from the very beginning of my professional journey.
3) What did you to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today?
My first job was the result of an internship in the same department at the same company a year prior. I essentially interned the summer before graduating from college and got the offer a month after graduation; so internships are critical to getting hands on work experience, exploring career options and helping to secure a job after graduation, particularly in a competitive job market.
In terms of where I am today, I used my first job to build my foundation in the entertainment industry and kept a consistent thread by staying within the industry throughout my career. I started in entertainment PR and continue to work in entertainment years later, now from the perspective of pro-social causes and using pop culture for social good.
4) What advice do you have for a recent graduate who is struggling to find their first job after college?
Network, network, network! Today, HR managers are inundated with qualified candidates and the best way to set yourself apart is to create a personal relationship with people in the industry that you are interested in working; it's important to get your foot in the door.
In addition to joining professional associations (most have a discounted student rate) also attend panel discussions and set up informational interviews. I commit to doing three informational interviews each year for young people interested in cause marketing/public affairs partnerships and many executives will commit to a 15 minute phone call or coffee to give advice that will help a recent graduate start their career journey.
Thank you so much for sharing your great advice Nneka! You can learn more about her on LinkedIn! :)