By Caleb Ajao (NYU ‘22), Graduate Student Careers Assistant
Stepping into my final year of my masters of music degree at NYU Steinhardt, like anyone stepping into their final moments at any degree at NYU, I am without a doubt wondering what exactly is next. I personally am no stranger to this question, but especially with the abundant opportunity of self-reflection 2020 has given to all of us, my answer in many ways has changed. In completing the Wasserman Career Readiness Course, I realized that it is not a course specifically designed for seniors embarking on the “real world” soon, but for any and everyone with a curiosity of where they fit in the world of work.
The six unit course is designed to assist students in their self-directed journey from finding what interests them in a career to negotiating a salary when a job offer has been made. Starting off with a unit based on one’s identity was a personal introduction to which I enjoyed greatly. Oftentimes, career-based learning devices can seem very general and can give flashbacks to standardized testing, but completing this activity to explicitly understand what in life ignites joy and passion within me was truly eye-opening, even in my final year of graduate school. Our identity indeed plays a huge role in our career decisions, and for this course to not shy away from this was encouraging as all I want to do is show up authentically as myself where my career takes me.
Following the identity exercise was an opportunity to explore the job titles within my industry of interest, which was a tangible task of joining my interests to the occupations that can tailor to this in the workforce. The detailed preparation of how to begin a job search was one most calming to me. It is undeniable that the concept of a job search is the big elephant in the room that though you try to ignore, can feel its presence intensifying by the passing of days. The use of the SMART method, and assessing workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion put a more active driving force and the elephant began to quickly diminish.
The ability to market oneself effectively gets you one step further, but unfortunately, this is not a skill explicitly taught in schools or even in the jobs we have previously worked in. Through the resume writing, cover letter and CV writing workshop within the course, I dove deeper in my ability to highlight my chosen skills and experiences one step deeper in order to get my name in the room. Even after this has been established, the ability to build and maintain a network is one so crucial especially in this day and age when the competition truly is getting tougher. The course not only prepared me for receiving a job, but it taught me that it doesn’t stop there; I can evaluate my offers and negotiate my salary, though it seems like a task that can cause discomfort, I truly feel more confident to identify my target salary and approach it with both respect and intention.
This course was an experience most grounding to me, giving me the opportunity to connect first with myself and my values all the way to the most external steps of navigating through offers and salaries. Looking for a job, writing a resume, or even deciding what you like are all such valid concerns that have a negative connotation of embarrassment around it, but this experience truly broke it all down for me. As someone who does not enjoy getting overwhelmed, the segmented nature of the information presented gave me the opportunity to take breaks, circle back and simply breathe. The world is tough enough as it is out there, and if there’s anything you can do to take the load off of yourself, do it. Do what you love, and it won’t feel like work! Deep breath, you’ve got this.
To access the Career Readiness course and travel one step further in your career journey, visit Brightspace.