As a student and future graduate in the Veterinary profession, I have good news for you.
Regardless of everything that’s been happening in the world during the past year—trade wars, extreme weather, political strife—the national economy is still doing well. And because of that, the employment marketplace is still full of opportunity.
However, also have some bad news for you.
While the good news is that the economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, the bad news is that there will one day be an end to this recovery. And that means we will once again experience a recession. No matter how much we’d like to convince ourselves that it’s not going to happen, it will at some point.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself right now, “Fantastic, I haven’t even graduated yet, but people are talking about a recession. What great timing!”
Regardless of the reality of future events, that’s not something on which you should be focusing right now. And it’s definitely counter-productive to start worrying about the possibility of a recession. No one knows exactly when the next recession will happen. At least that is what a leading economist in the veterinary profession recently told me. Besides that, worrying only keeps you back. It does not move you forward, and moving forward is what I want to address in this article.
I am a firm believer in being proactive. I encourage professionals to be proactive in every area of their career. That’s because when you’re proactive, you’re able to create more options and choices for yourself. And when you have more options and choices, then you can make better decisions, which will help you both professionally and personally.
And just because you’re a student and not yet in the employment marketplace does not mean that you can’t be proactive. In fact, this is the perfect time to be proactive, so that you can get a good start in your career, regardless of the state of economic conditions when you graduate. Regardless of what kind of economy we are in, the most successful professionals are typically those who are proactive.
To illustrate this, I’d like to reference one of the best career books that I’ve read: Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty by Harvey Mackay. The book presents a simple analogy, one that is very applicable to this conversation. When you’re thirsty, you need water now. You don’t want to wait. In fact, by most estimates, you can only live three days without water. So in a literal sense, you would have to dig your well before you were thirsty . . . or you would run the risk of death.
In the figurative sense, when you need a job, you want a job now. However, just like digging a well, it takes time to find a job. One isn’t going to fall into your lap just because you’ve graduated. Life most certainly does not work that way. Instead, you must prepare before you graduate by being proactive in your efforts. So how exactly should you be proactive?
Below are four tips for preparing for a recession (before you’ve even graduated):
#1—Take Stock of Your Value
It’s all about value. Specifically, it’s all about your value. This is true in a good economy, but it’s especially important during a down economy or a recession. Think about it for a second. When a recession hits and companies are forced to cut back, where do they cut first in terms of personnel? They cut those employees deemed to be “non-essential.” That’s another way of saying that those employees do not provide a lot of value. (At the very least, they don’t provide enough value to justify staying employed with the organization.)
This is something that you should be doing, anyway, regardless of the possibility or probability of a recession. As a student and future graduate, you should know what type of value you can offer to a potential employer. After all, if you don’t know how valuable you are, then how can you expect an employer to know?
#2—Identify the Options that are Available to You
Your opportunities for career growth are only as good as the options you have for achieving that growth. Once again, that’s true during good economic times and recessionary ones. This is why it’s important to know what those options are. As a student, what options will be available to you once you graduate? Can you start pursuing those options now? If so, then how should you pursue those options?
Once you discover the options, be specific about the information associated with them. Don’t be vague or general. That won’t help you. To “hit the ground running” once you graduate, you must have enough information to not only make the right decisions, but also to make the right decisions quickly, so that you set yourself up for success.
#3—Increase Your Networking Efforts
I can not emphasize enough the importance of networking. That’s because networking gets results! And I’m not just talking about networking through social media platforms like LinkedIn. Yes, LinkedIn is a great tool for networking and other aspects of professional life. However, it does not serve as a substitute for face-to-face networking.
There are numerous industry events in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession each year. There are the big ones like VMX, WVC and AVMA, but there are also regional and local ones, too. These events are prime opportunities for not only training and education, but also for networking. You never know what another person knows or who they know. I always say that it’s not just what you know and it’s not just who you know, but it both what you know and who you know.
As a student and future graduate, you should have a definite plan for how you’re going to take advantage of these networking opportunities. And you should be actively exploring avenues for networking while still in school. If you haven’t started yet, start now!
#4—Invest in Yourself with Training and Education
As mentioned in the first item on this list, it’s all about the value that you could provide to a potential employer. As such, it makes sense that you should strive to make yourself as valuable as possible. And keep in mind that once you graduate, your education will not be ending. Education is a life-long endeavor, and your commitment to it must not wane simply because you possess a cap, a gown, and a diploma.
Your value includes not only your level of experience, but also your skills. There are two types of skills—hard (technical) skills and soft (people skills). Hard skills are more easily teachable and quantifiable, while soft skills refer to the way in which you interact with other people. Organizations want employees who offer value in both categories, which is why you should continually strive to invest in yourself in both of these categories. Remember: there is NO such thing as possessing or offering too much value.
I am, by nature, an optimistic person. I hope for the best. But if you want to enter the workforce and build your career the right way, you can’t just hope for the best. You also have to prepare for the worst, and that includes preparing for the inevitability of a recession. It’s not something of which you should be afraid. It’s simply something for which you must prepare.
And the four steps outlined above will help you do just that. So start preparing today, and be proactive about plotting the course of your professional life and your career!