The Student Connection
The Student Connection

The Student Connection

Boss Moves: Three Vital Steps to Take Soon After Graduation by Janell Hazelwood '04

Janell Hazelwood '04

Janell Hazelwood '04

So you've made it through your experience at Hampton University with your degree in hand. You have an exciting new job in your chosen field or you'll be beating the pavement to find the awesome opportunity you know is made for you. Like a runner, the way you start on that trajectory can vastly affect how you run the race toward career advancement and how you'll finish in terms of achieving wins throughout your professional journey. Get a strong start with these four vital career advancement tasks you can do as soon as the dust settles from the celebration of a well-deserved achievement.

  1. Work with a team to truly assess where you are and where you want to be. Leaders such as President Barack Obama have teams for leadership support, and you'll need the same. If you don't have a team of people to advise, mentor and coach you through those first career decisions, build one from your undergraduate, volunteer and school network.

    You can also use career assessment resources like Kevin Lile's Career Motivations Challenge or iSeekSolutions Skills Assessment Tool. Once you know where you are, you can set a plan, with the help of the team, to get to where you need to be.
  2. Know your weaknesses and address critical insights on your strengths realistically. As a leader in your career advancement, you should always know all perceptions of you and your professional brand from key people among your networks. Have post-grad meetings with professors, your career services office or past employers, or invite class peers who have worked with you on class projects or tasks to coffee to get candid insights. It's good to know how people perceive you (versus the reality of who you are.) Will these perceptions hinder your future advancement? If so, gain insight on how you can change them or work to improve on valid weak points?
  3. Get in the habit of keeping tabs on your successes and your failures. Don't obsess, but you should begin to get in a mindset of documenting things you're great at (and have been rewarded for) and things you're not-so-great at or need improvement. Be aware of success benchmarks in your industry based on its measuring system and the career profiles of leaders within it. Hold yourself accountable, or have a mentor or coach be your accountability manager. Sometimes it's good to have one or two people reminding you of where you want to be and keeping you on your toes. Besides, how can you get where you want to go without first knowing whether you're using the correct road map or mode of travel?
  4. Find out what an entry-level salary package looks like and the value of your talents. Use salary calculators and get a sense of what peers with similar job titles and duties in your industry are earning. Keep up to date with the fiscal health of any prospective company you want to work for, and find out inside information from current employees or industry watchers via personal conversations, the news or social media. You may not be able to negotiate your salary as an entry-level worker, but there are other parts of a starting benefits package that might be flexible areas for employers, such as vacation time, healthcare benefits, 401K employer contribution matches or stock options. Be professional, not demanding, when negotiating, but never take the first offer on the table without at least asking about possible negotiation, other perks and benefits.

Hamptonian Janell Hazelwood '04 (QTV) is the associate producer and overseer of Career and Global content for BlackEnteprise.com. She is also a digital producer and blogger who focuses on millennial career development and entrepreneurship. Her works have appeared on sites including BlackEnterprise.com, E!Online and Huffington Post. Follow Hazelwood on Twitter @JPHazelwood and Black Enterprise @blackenterprise.