Steps to success: Transitioning to your next phase of life

The Means Report

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It is a big topic right now for so many across the country – finding a job. This week The Means Report tackles the job search and employment prospects for graduates. Also, how can high school seniors make the transition to the next chapter of their lives successfully. Plus, finding a job in the pandemic times. How do you do it? How do you navigate the process and make the best first impression? Julie Goley, the director for the Career Center at Augusta University, shares her expertise.

Brad Means: Julie, thank you for what you do for our graduates. And thank you for being here today. I appreciate it.

Julie Goley: Sure. We appreciate opportunity.

Brad Means: Well, let me just sort of get a feel for your perspective right now and ask you if people graduating are worried right now, if there’s just nonstop anxiety. ‘Cause it seems like there would be.

Julie Goley: There is anxiety, which is just kind of par for the course for all of us right now, but just, you know what that transition into a full-time job upon graduation a career level, entry-level job will look like, how fast or how slow it will be, the anxiety, you know. And we’ve still got people who are very accustomed to a virtual environment in the last year. And what does that look like transitioning to perhaps a job that’s more in-person as we continue to progress out of, you know, this new normal that we’ve had. And you know, I think everybody experiences a little bit of social awkwardness when you have that transition and you’re already in the trenches working as a professional, but that’s just multiplied when you are new and seeking and entering the profession.

Brad Means: Are there any fields out there that kind of cut through that anxiety and say, “No, no, we’re good. You can come work for us right away.” If so, where are those jobs?

Julie Goley: Well, you know, we still see a strong need in our healthcare markets, in our IT sectors. Those are always very strong. Accounting is always strong but you know the need is changing. And I think that everybody even entrenched people entrenched in their work, they’re reframing how they work. So even though it’s new to them realizing that they’re going to be an environment that might not be as consistent as what it was before when they look to colleagues and look to mentorship. So it’s going to be a bit of a different struggle regardless of the profession but it’s still an exciting time. There’s still going to be opportunities. We’re encouraged at the opportunities that we’re starting to see open up and come through. And you know, I think that the outlook is going to be good for the college grad if they just stick with it and be consistent.

Brad Means: Gets better for them last year than it was in 2020, right? Those kids last year were going, those young adults last year were graduating straight into the heart of a pandemic. It’s better now. Right?

Julie Goley: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So perspective is 2020. So if you think it’s rough now, think about what that grad was like last year, which was, you know everybody was finding their way and everything was on hold. So, you know, certainly the outlook and that transition’s going to be a more positive walk for our new grads. It’s still going to be scary, but it’s going to be better.

Brad Means: Yeah. You mentioned the changing work environment. Certainly we see so many things being done virtually. This interview back in the old days would have been done in person. I miss that. I can’t wait to get it back but how do you get graduates ready for that? Do you just say, “Practice doing Skype and Zoom and FaceTime more,”? Do you all teach it at AU so that these folks are job ready?

Julie Goley: We do. And we’ve actually had to pivot like any industry in the last year. So whereas our workshops have typically been in person all of them this academic year have been virtual and we’ve actually paired them down. So instead of an hour workshop, we’re looking at 20 to 30 minutes. Very compressed, very targeted. So we can meet the student on their schedule and we record those sessions and have them available on our website. So, you know, if they want some tips about interviewing skills, conducting a virtual interview sharpening their resume, things that you would typically you know, look to get ready for as you’re preparing to graduate and enter into that next phase of your professional life. Those resources are there. We’re just packaging them differently, reaching the students differently. Our appointments are virtual still at this point. So they can still meet with us usually on Microsoft Teams and we, you know, get focused and get it done.

Brad Means: Would you advise people to adjust their goals or their interests or their dreams in order to get a paycheck faster? When I heard you list some of those industries that are hiring it made me want to go to my kids and say, shift to this because there’s something waiting for you when you get out.

Julie Goley: I think, I would say sometimes in a tough economy in particular, if you are landlocked, if you’re not willing to relocate. And you know, we certainly see some people who you’ve got some people who have gone through this pandemic and they’re more, just like people want to travel more. They’re more likely to relocate, they want to relocate and others are going, “You know, I think I wanna stay.” Stay in an area. So you have to make certain choices and there’s opportunity. I tell students, you know, maybe your ideal job isn’t the one that you go right into, but where is it going to develop the skills that you want to use is the leaping point? So, you know, we know right now that employers are looking across all forms of needs and professions. You know, there’s a shortage. So there’s a way for students to develop their skills in a variety of areas and even on side gigs, you know at this point until they get to that that what they consider an ideal entry-level position. So the opportunities are there, you just have to kind of harness and focus. There’s always going to be stronger opportunities in certain industries. But, you know, I tell our liberal arts grads it’s strong for them and the critical thinking and the problem solving skills that they have. They just have to learn how to articulate that effectively in their job search because the competencies and the things that the employers are looking for you know, they hadn’t changed, you know that hadn’t changed as far as teamwork and the ability to communicate in writing and in person effectively. And to, you know have those critical thinking skills. So initiative, work ethic, you know, do what you say and say what you do, show up.

Brad Means: Yeah, show up, tuck your shirt and take off your hat. Let me ask you this. There is, so what you’re saying if I’m hearing you correctly is, “Hey, folks, graduate, even if it’s a place holder position take a job and wait this thing out because post pandemic true post pandemic, maybe that ideal position. And in fact, that ideal position likely will be there.”

Julie Goley: Right. Exactly. And I’ve never had a position in my own professional life, whether it was a job for a paycheck just to get to the next level or a job in something that I was truly looking for a long-term, you know, opportunity in. You learn from every environment that you were in. So take a lens of am I working potentially for someone who I can learn from, who could be an effective mentor? Am I gaining some skill sets in an area that I think might be a natural knack that I have that I may not fully understand where I can take this? You know, if you tend to be more of that strong analytical type, there’s chances where you could utilize that and some new ways that you hadn’t considered, you know in data and you might be scared of technology, but you know there’s a lot of opportunities looking at not only learning how to pull certain types of data but what is the data telling you? And so there’s a lot of transferable skills that can be utilized in taps. So, you know, I just encourage anyone in a job search you know, look for learning, look for that next step. It may be, it’s not, you know, the benefits that you want, the pay that you want but is it going to help you in the long run get to that next level?

Brad Means: We’re talking to Julie Goley. She’s the director of career services at Augusta University advice for folks as they try to enter or in some cases reenter the workforce. Important information especially during these trying times. “The Means Report”, back in a moment.

Part 2

Brad Means: Welcome back to “The Means Report”. We are having a great conversation with Julie Goley, the director of career services at Augusta University a key player when it comes to leaving school and getting a job. Many times, she is the person who helps make that transition smooth and better. And Julie, my question to you, we talked so much in our first segment about soon to be college graduates. And you typically picture a 22,23 year old when you picture that, but you see older folks, right? You see people who have returned to school perhaps trying to get a second lease on life and tell me what their outlook is like. Is it better, worse, the same as the younger folks?

Julie Goley: I think, you know, anytime you have a little bit of career maturity under your belt, I think that’s an asset. You know, and I think that the fact that you chances are for our non-traditional students they have worked in some settings and work full-time in settings where they’re more accustomed to organizational structures, the politics the formal power structure, the informal power structure all those things that play into an environment. So there’s a little bit more of a savviness there that certainly is an asset. But you know, that raw curiosity learn and energy of a new graduate who is just getting going is also appealing too. It just depends on the team. And, you know, hopefully managers are looking to diversify that skillset in their hiring needs.

Brad Means: Just overall though, who’s going to get a job faster, the young person or the old person?

Julie Goley: It depends on how the person projects, where they add value. And that’s the key is understanding, I think sometimes so much, you know, people are focused on let me tell you about me or what I can do, or they’re focused on themselves. Listen to what the organization is saying. Listen to what the organization saying in that job description. Tailor it. Tailor your skills and your assets and your strengths. Show where you add value. And, you know, it’s not an age thing. It’s more of a fit and being able to see, okay, I can see where I can contribute here. I’m excited and here’s why and here’s some examples of where I’ve done this before. And, you know, I think that that’s, and employers are certainly looking for consistency. You know, what I see that authenticity, what I see is what I’m going to get. And certainly in this up and down economy and this up and down just life in general that we’ve known for the last year, I think we crave that even more. So, you know, just someone who has a confidence in who they are, what they have to offer, areas where they’ve seen growth that they’re working on ’cause we’re all a work in progress but where they can add value and where they tend to to see opportunities to add value by nature have certain strengths that they have. That’s the key. And that level of maturity varies from person to person.

Brad Means: It sure does. You know, you had some great advice about taking a job as long as there were learning opportunities in that work environment, taking the job and learning and getting all you can out of it and then perhaps going on to what you’d consider your ideal career after. Do you ever tell people just to perhaps stay in school, go ahead and get another degree, wait this pandemic out some more and then come out with a more diverse skillset?

Julie Goley: It depends on what they want to do. Sometimes if there’s a circumstance or a situation, for example, someone who wants to go into the counseling field, that almost always requires advanced education to do that beyond a bachelor’s degree. Then it makes sense if they’re really sure that that’s what they wanna do and they’ve had internships and, you know, they have that competence level. Continuing on in school is important. To go ahead and get those credentials to be able to do the very thing that you want to do. However, there are other areas where that experience is vital. So, you know, pay attention to what your values are as far as what grad school is. If you’re taking, if you’re pursuing grad school just to put off the inevitable, that’s not the reason you should do it. It should be really crafted towards what’s going to be meaningful for you next because just because you went to grad school doesn’t mean that you’re going to get any different monetary benefit or hiring benefit if you don’t have the experience to back it up. And, you know, and that’s what’s critical. So it really depends on the program and the offering.

Brad Means: Do people need to go to college anymore?

Julie Goley: I think it’s really up to the individual. There’s opportunities for all levels. I think that it’s important to do some sort of post training, post high school in some, whether it’s an apprenticeship at a technical or community college, at a university. I think that’s important just for that growth but there’s so much that you can do. And you know, all of this in your professional training you know, and in my professional training all of it becomes real when you’re a parent, right? All the different levels. So I, you know, I’ve got a teenage son and I’m looking and going, okay, he’s you know, academically, he’s doing good but he’s got some real strengths in mechanical aptitude and just loves to work outside and doing hands-on things. Does that mean engineering and a four year degree? Or does that mean technical college?

Brad Means: Right.

Julie Goley: My goal is a parent, give him the option, you know, keep him on an academic path where he can explore all of those things and he can potentially narrow that down. But, you know, I’ll look and go, “Okay, he’s got a lot to work with,” and it doesn’t necessarily have to be because the opportunities are there, the viability and the career growth is there.

Brad Means: What would you say to if you do have a teenager or maybe even a middle schooler, is this the time to say, “Hey, these are the opportunities that are out there. These are the skills that are needed. These are the skills I see blossoming in you already. Hey, child in my life, focus on this or focus on that.” Should we begin to try to steer them so that when they get to your office, you can plug them in anywhere?

Julie Goley: I think that’s really, I’m glad you phrased it that way ’cause I think it’s really important that as parents we spend time validating the things that we see in our kids as far as a natural knack or a talent compared to their peers. And it’s not about, you know, giving everybody a blue ribbon and showing how they excel but it’s helping them understand where they have certain distinctive qualities that might be worth exploring a little bit more. And I think as a parent, those types of conversations are really critical because unfortunately, we’re all creatures of habit. We don’t always realize things about ourselves that other people do, but perception is reality. So, you know, it’s very advantageous to have a parent who goes, “You know your ability to stay calm under pressure, no matter what the stressors, you kind of keep an even keeled demeanor and a patience and an analytical mindset, that’s a real strength. How could you utilize that in your work.” Or, “Your enthusiasm and your ability to persuade people and get affinity for whatever cause you believe in and rally others, that’s a real strength of yours. How could that be harnessed more?” Those were the kinds of conversations I encourage parents to have with their kids and show that kind of validation because it, you know. We know, and the trends show for example, with kindergartners right now, 65% of the job types that are out there when they finish school, aren’t even created yet. We don’t even know what they are. So what does that mean? It gets back to knowing who you are, knowing where your strengths are, your weaknesses, where you add value, what your passions are. Those raw, the raw material of yourself is the first and the most important work. And then applying it discipline wise comes next. And so many times we and parents in particular we want to drive them too. “This is the hot job, therefore do this.” It’s all about STEM. It’s all about this. But you’ve got to look at what’s the raw material you’ve got and how to develop it, harness that.

Brad Means: That’s great advice for parents and caregivers out there to try to look for those qualities in your child and accentuate them. How long does a job search take? I know it varies, but is it weeks or months here in 2021 to go from wanting a job to drawing that first check?

Julie Goley: Yeah. Finding a job right now is not difficult but finding that entry level career opportunity is probably you’re looking at a three to six month process.

Brad Means: Yeah. We see signs everywhere, Julie, you know. I saw something on the internet this morning about Wife Saver here in town being closed a couple of days a week because of staffing issues. Other businesses face the same. When we get out of that? When will we see restaurants and other places we like to visit fully staffed because people want to go to work? Right now it seems that many people do not.

Julie Goley: I think, you know, we’re all having to kind of read tea leaves as to what’s going on right now and the oddity of where we live and what we’re living through. But, you know, as we’re starting to see different States including our area, looking at making some changes with regards to the benefits for unemployment and things of that nature, because the needs are so great with employers and trimming that as we try to come out of a lifestyle and a life that we know in COVID, it’ll be interesting to see if that has an uptick and a change. But we all know, you know. And it’s just the nature of how we work and what we do is very different.

Brad Means: Yeah.

Julie Goley: And, you know, I think that that’s there’s a lot of unknowns. That’s a crystal ball question so I gotta give you a crystal ball answer. I don’t know.

Brad Means: No, it makes sense and there is so much unknown. Just in 30 quick seconds, give some quick tips for a virtual interview. Your wifi signal or whatever it is that I’m looking at right now, makes your shot there at AU one of the best we’ve had. It’s clear. I can see you, I can hear you. And so how do we, when we’re in our bedrooms or our kitchens create that kind of positive impression on an employee?

Julie Goley: Yeah. Well, for my college students, I would say chances are you have a career services office that can provide you with a space to conduct your virtual interview and you just need to connect, you know connect with them to do that. So, and we certainly do that here. So if we’ve got, you know, “Hey, I’ve got five roommates. I’ve got pets. There’s no, there’s always chaos.” You know, we can provide a setting to do that. But the last thing you want to do is, you know, test this out. Test your lighting, test your angle, make sure your camera should be somewhat above you versus below you.

Brad Means: Yeah, that is–

Julie Goley: And the audio. But the lighting, all of that is so, so critical. And just getting comfortable with that because, you know as we’re talking, it’s not the same as when we’re in person. But–

Brad Means: It’s not an, and I’m going to jump in real quick not to be rude, but to make sure that make sure that we hit our time properly but you have fit so much great information into our few minutes together, Julie Goley. And I appreciate that and what you do for everybody at Augusta University. Julie Goley: Thank you. Good to connect.

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Brad Means

The Means Report first aired in January of 2009 offering coverage that you cannot get from a daily newscast. Forget about quick soundbytes -- we deliver an in-depth perspective on the biggest stories. If they are making news on the local or national level, you will find them on the set of The Means Report. Hosted by WJBF NewsChannel 6 anchor, Brad Means, The Means Report covers the topics impacting your life, your town, your state, and your future.