Let me preface this guide by giving a bit of background about myself. I was hired right out of college into a large chemistry company, the Monday after graduation ceremonies. I am in no way trying to sound “full of myself”, however I do attest the speed at which I was hired, in large part, to the interview sills I’ve picked up.
#1. Keep your expectations realistic.
Back in “the day” (say, the 50s) men could graduate high school, get a great paying job in the industrial sector, immediately buy a house, afford a wife, 2 cars and 2.8 kids. Times have changed, and the modern-day graduate has to keep their expectations realistic. Being involved (partly) in the hiring process from the hiring-perspective now, I can tell you that, personally, there are few things more off-putting than an air of over-entitlement. Your career aspirations could even be covered in the interview, and I recommend you do go into detail if the opportunity comes up.
These days, you have to apply to the company, not to the job. What I mean by this is: say you are like me and have some sort of science degree/background. I had an interest in Nutritional Chemistry coming out of college, and applied to an entry-level job in a leading company in that industry. By this, I don’t mean that if you are interested in Sigma-Aldrich, for example, you apply for janitorial work in that company. I mean that if you are interested in analytic chemistry work for Sigma-Aldrich that you apply to an entry-level position in that particular department in that company. With departmental interest comes tip #2.
#2. Do your research.
Know which departments within the company interest you most. There is a common misconception with new hires that supervisors/managers would not be pleased to hear that you have aspirations in a different group/job. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The misconception is that it relays a feeling of unhappiness in your current position, but instead it shows dedication and loyalty to the company, as well as a drive to learn the skills that will fill the gap between where you are and where you want to go. It’s a growth opportunity, not a level of disdain. Large companies these days are much more willing to hire up from within than they used to be, and starting from a lower-level job has skyrocketed my career by providing an understanding of the entire process and all the jobs I have been promoted out of. So, as to stay on track with the theme of tip #2, do your research. Know which departments interest you, and why. If they don’t ask during the interview, bring it up. Which brings me to tip #3.
#3. Ask questions.
If you’ve done #2, you have to “wow” the hiring personnel by proving to them that you looked into their company, and are interested in in. Go into the interview with the mindset of “I’ve only ever wanted to work for this company, here are reasons why.” Companies don’t want to hire people, even for entry-level positions, if they get the feeling that they don’t plan on staying there for awhile. In the example of my experiences, I expressed interest in a job within my department that I still don’t even have. However, the path from entry-level to the job I still aspire to fill is filled with individual development, education, and has the prerequisite of knowing almost every job in our group. Go into the interview confidently. Do everything that everyone else suggest you to do, but I’m telling you: ask questions. “What’s the corporate culture here like?” “I have an interest in technology, is there a group within your department that specializes in this?” “What kinds of positions do people eventually move to after this position?” Questions like these show a strong interest in the company. They know you’re interested in the position, you applied to it and got an interview. Now is the time to show to them that you intend to have a career in the company, and contribute productivity, ideas, and process improvements for many, many years to come.
Doing all this research obviously takes time. But, if your goal is to find the right company for you, and orient yourself into a long term career, the time spent is well worth it for you personally. If you ask questions like the ones above and they say things you don’t expect, or that you don’t find appealing, it may actually let you “dodge a bullet” so to speak, and not start a job in a company that you’re just not into.