* Jobseekers' Diaries
Jobseekers’ Diaries: “Paying your dues” at Entry-level
“There’s a fine line between putting in the time and staying too long. How do you know when you’re paying your dues or wasting your work? It all depends on how you define and interpret the phrase.”
A traditional work motto I consistently use as a mantra is: “You gotta pay your dues.” Typically, when weekdays are long and tough, I repeat this to myself. However, this motto can be perceived differently depending on your mindset. Those who blame others for their problems, or those who tell others they are “lucky” in life to get as far as they have, often misconstrue this phrase. Therefore, let’s get this straight: “paying your dues” is not about doing what’s seemingly nothing for hours on end or pointless suffering in your career, it’s about the experience.
As a fresh graduate with a bachelor’s degree at hand, a majority of my ex-classmates couldn’t understand why I decided to take on an internship position in Amsterdam, straight out of university. I had the certificate, that was all I needed to pursue my dream job, right? Well realistically, its highly rare one enters their field at the pinnacle of...
Jobseeker’s Diaries: Job interview Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned
In previous jobs, and now in my role as a content writer, I have made a lot of mistakes. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly during dozens of conducted job interviews, and I am consistently amazed at how basic the things are that usually go wrong.
My first job interview is one of those awkward events in life that keep me awake at night. I was eager to make a good impression, so I decided to go there at least 30 minutes in advance. It was not something unusual for me – I am well-known among my friends for always being too early for appointments. I found the building on time and quickly oriented myself to the waiting room. Little did I know that arriving too soon could be disruptive to the hiring manager’s schedule! She was clearly irritated, and this is where we got off the wrong foot. I did, however, do my “homework” for the company in advance, that is, I did my research and prepared for their questions. I kept repeating my scripted monologue over and over in my head while entering the interview room. She asked me if I would like a...
Jobseeker’s Diaries: The Importance of Openness
The word ‘openness’ often carries with it a strong positive connotation. Being open is seen as a beneficial characteristic, especially in a societal context. Think about how often we encounter phrases such as: “open governments”, “open data”, “open societies”. Nonetheless, what exactly does the word “openness” entail? It can be defined as the attitude necessary to learn new things, to encounter new people, and to embark on new adventures. It is the ultimate attitude that gives all other attitudes a meaning.
Many people are afraid of being open and transparent. I used to be quick to think others will judge me and try to use this information against me. However, it turned out to be a really jaded approach to living. I decided to practice openness in all of my life’s adventures. I am studying and living abroad. Sometimes I take a spontaneous weekend trip across the country. I applied for an internship I would not have immediately thought about. I also did some volunteering and went on an exchange in a completely different country. At the end, all my journeys taught me that my ability to be open is everything.
Being open is definitely necessary for your growth and...
Jobseeker’s Diaries: Working Towards My Goals
If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Goal setting allows you to take control of your direction in life and it provides you with a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. To accomplish your goals, however, you need to know how to set them in the first place. It is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. In between, there are some very well-defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate achievable goals.
When I set goals for myself, it is necessary that they motivate me: this means making sure that they are relevant to me, and that there is value in achieving them. If I have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of my putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is a key to achieving goals.
I set goals that relate to the high priorities in my life. Without this type of focus, I can end up with far too many goals,...
Jobseeker’s Diaries - A Happy Boss
My first job as a research assistant taught me many things, including that achieving quality time with the boss requires a lot of self-discipline. Self-discipline is a key aspect of effective management. In order to achieve it, I need to be clear about my boss’s priorities, have empathy for their challenges and, above all, know how to make myself easy to manage – this is where the self-discipline comes in.
If I want a happy boss, then I need a high level of self-awareness ¬– knowing my strengths and my potential blind spots. It is also helpful to be mindful of how the human brain works. Luckily, I am a bachelor student of psychology, so I know the main principle of neuroscience – we are primarily motivated by both the desire for safety and pleasure, and the avoidance of pain and loss of security. I may be more motivated by one or the other, and as long as I am consciously aware of which it is, I can adjust accordingly if I become blindly optimistic and complacent, or pessimistically skeptical and stressed. Armed with self-awareness and robust self-discipline, it is relatively simple to make my boss happy.
Yet, there is...
Jobseeker’s Diaries: My First Interview in the Netherlands
Being a mind reader would certainly come in handy during a job interview and make the whole getting-a-job process a lot easier, right? It would take away all the pressure of saying the right thing and allow you to fix any verbal blunders. One can only wish...
Since I am not a mind reader and I doubt anyone is, I had to prepare for my first job interview. The job I wanted was in a famous Dutch research-training consultancy, so I made it my goal to predict the unpredictable and to be prepared in the best way possible. I started with a small research on the company’s background. I wrote down all key words and interesting facts I found about it, and I memorized it in the next couple of days. I also read about the job scope and the responsibilities I would have. I thought it would do no harm to learn those since they would come in handy when answering questions.
Then I moved on to reading articles about possible job interview questions and tips on how to handle the situation under pressure, or if something goes wrong. I found some of the questions particularly hard to answer,...
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