Ready to learn the secret to landing your ideal job right after college? Tune in as we have a candid chat with Beth Hendler-Grunt, the founder and president of Next Great Step. Beth, who started her career journey in sales and telecom, then worked as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies, has plenty of wisdom to share. We delve into her life story, from her childhood ballet dreams to the mentors who helped shape her career.
In the second half of the episode, we uncover the art of networking and the path to career clarity. We explore how leveraging your skills can lead you to a career that truly suits your aspirations. Beth also shares her experiences transitioning from college to the workforce, offering invaluable insights on coping with career changes.
Whether you are a college graduate or a parent looking to help your recent grad, don't miss out on this chance to gain some top-tier advice that could change your (or your graduate) life.
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Hello and welcome to the Career Changers podcast. I'm Elisa Martiniig and I'm the founder and editor-in-chief of the Career Changers. I'm definitely one of them. I learned from my experience that following our dreams requires courage, self-awareness and a lot of inner work. I love to discover stories of career change and share them with the world as a source of inspiration for all those who are still searching. Career changes are not straightforward chronology written in our CVs, but the sum-up of our dreams, ambitions, failures and successes. The Career Changers is an online community that aims to inspire thousands of people during their journey to self-realization. We discover and share inspirational real-life stories of career change. We inspire people that are thinking to change career. We support people that want or need to change career but feel stuck or lack in confidence and clarity. We connect and collaborate with organizations that support career change across different industries. I believe that thinking to have only one job or career in our life is a limiting belief unless the job or that career make us happy. Life is a journey and, with one third of our lives spent working, it would be unimaginable to not have a desire to explore new avenues. Welcome to the Career Changers podcast. Hello and welcome to a new episode of the Career Changers. Our guest today is Beth Handler-Grant, founder and president of Next Great Step, an organization that focuses on helping college students and recent grads to land the job they deserve. Today, she is here to inspire you with her career journey and discuss how to get a job after graduation. Hi Beth, thank you so much for joining us.Beth Hendler-Grunt:
Thank you for having me.Elisa Martinig:
So let's start with your background. How did you start your professional life for Beth? What was your first job?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
So my professional life started. Actually, I had an internship in college, probably before it was in style to have internships. I was very fortunate and I had an internship working for AT&T, the telephone company, and then they offered me my first job. So I was an account executive helping to sell phone systems to large companies, and that kind of started my career in the telecom and tech sector.Elisa Martinig:
And what was your dream job?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
when you were a child, my dream job was that I wanted to be, I think, a ballerina in the New York City ballet oh wow. And I took dance lessons for many, many years. I even went into college as a dual dance major and a business major and at one point my parents were you know, they're like you cannot continue this dance thing. I don't know if it's sustainable and I don't know if my body was able to sustain. And then I just, you know, focused on business.Elisa Martinig:
So what did you do after that in terms of education? What is your educational background?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
Sure. So my educational background is I went to undergrad, I went to Washington University in St Louis. I went, I was in the business school there as a marketing major and then I graduated and I got hired into AT&T and they had a wonderful program that paid for your MBA. So after a few years working there, I went and got my master's degree, my MBA degree, at Seton Hall University, which was local nearby, and that was a really great experience as well and I actually learned from this very seriously. It's a community 정bro people's educational.Elisa Martinig:
So, after you started is how did you progress your career? Today you're working. You're helping graduates to find their first job, so to build a new career. So how did it work for you?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
Yeah, so you know, my background is that. So I started my career in sales and telecom and then it evolved into sales management as well, as you know, really understanding mostly what? How do you convince somebody of something that you're not sure that they need it or not? So that was a good part of my career for 15 years. And then I went into a consulting firm to work with executives and CEOs at Fortune 500 companies to help them with their strategies and their sales performance as well. And how it evolved into the company that I launched now is that a lot of times when I would meet with these executives, they would talk about their hiring and their struggle to hire new candidates and hire recent grads, and they'd often say you know, I'd love to hire a recent grad, but I'm not going to, I'm going to pass, because I don't want to babysit, I don't have the time to oversee them, I don't think they understand my business the way they need to, so I'm going to look for somebody else. And I also became of the age where I had lots of friends and as a parent, people would say I don't get it. My kid went to a great school, they had a great internship and they cannot get a job. And there's this disconnect. There still continues to be a disconnect in the market between what employers expect and what young adults and graduates think that they are capable of. And that's how I forged this company. I said you know what if I taught young adults to understand how to differentiate themselves, how to articulate their value, how to really put themselves in the shoes of the employer and understand their problems? And when I started trying it out and teaching it to some of the my friends kids, they said you know, I'm not getting this at school. This is really helpful. And I started leading to them to getting to be employed. And that is how I started and that's how I launched next great step.Elisa Martinig:
So today, probably, you are inspiring many young people that leave university, but is there been anyone or anything that's been a major inspiration for you during your career journey?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
I've been very fortunate to have some really great people that I've worked for that really set a phenomenal example of what it means to be a leader, what it means to be someone who knows how to sell, knows how to listen. So I've had some really, you know, fortunate. I've had some bosses that were not so good and I, you know, realize when that happens as well as also very fortunate to be mentored by my father, who also had his own practice and was in business for many years. So we work very closely together for a period of time. So you know, I kind of seek out mentorship, where when I see someone doing something that's inspiring, I asked for more help and I want to learn more about how they're doing it. So I seek it out as well as I try to provide that for others.Elisa Martinig:
So how and when did you start thinking about writing the book the Next Great Step?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
So I started to. You know, I had been working with students and families for about five or six years and majority of the people who I speak to that are coming to look for help are parents, because they are frustrated and they're concerned about their young adult, and I think that's a good example that they often provide very good advice but their young adult is not taking it or they feel that they haven't looked for a job in a long time and are not sure what to say. And I felt that it was time for a resource to really put tools in the hands of parents on how to help their young adult navigate the process. So I wrote the book when the intent of let's understand the problem from a parent perspective, the student perspective and what an employer is thinking, and then I provide my simple, structured, step by step approach on how to step through the process with the young adult that you know in your life. And then I want to start to help them and understand how it looks and maybe hand the book to them and say here's a guide to do that, because I felt that there was such a need in the market, because families are struggling and they want to provide the guidance, but they're just not sure how.Elisa Martinig:
So this is a deep dive into how to get a job after graduation. So, first of all, sometimes we choose a career on education, part of the educational part but doesn't necessarily mean that's going to lead us to that specific career Because we have completed our education. What is what? What doesn't need to be very clear in our head in terms of what is our mission and what we really want for our future.Beth Hendler-Grunt:
So very often I hear that people say, well, I studied this in school but I don't really love it, or I don't know if I want to really pursue a career in that area, or I thought I wanted something but now that once I did it, I really don't like it. So what? The guidance that we give to young adults and to families to help their young adult is really? It's about the foundation of skills. So, even if you studied something, it's really more about what are the skills that you have that you feel that you are the most confident, most skilled at and enjoy doing, and they become your core skills. And what are the top three? And are you great at research? Are you analytical? Are you a great writer? Do you like to sell or interact or communicate and figure out what those are. And I think once, once that becomes clear, and then you have a story or an example to prove that you did this type of skill, that's when it gets easier, because then you're able to then focus on these are the skills that I have and I would. This is the kind of skill that I'd like to be using in the workplace and, by the way, it makes you much more appealing to an employer because they know that you have clarity about yourself, you know what you're about, you know where you want to go and how to leverage that and potentially help them in their business. So I think clarity on skills is the most important. And as much as there's this stress about hey may not match up exactly to the major, I think that's okay.Elisa Martinig:
So on the other side, are there any type of qualification that actually are going instead to determine the type of job that someone will get?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
I don't think it's a specific qualification. I mean, clearly, certain jobs require certain certifications or degrees, but I think there's so much, by the way, now that's accessible and available, whether it's an online class, whether you learned it in school or you want to go get certified, or whether it's some type of boot camp or analytics. I think there's so much that you can learn, or whether you want to shadow or intern or get a certificate. I mean, I think there's lots of options to create those learning environments for yourself. I think you need to understand what's actually needed to be successful in the role. Sometimes you don't need to have as many degrees or education as you think. Even now people start talking about like how much do you need a master's degree to get a certain job? I think you need to. The biggest piece, I think, is sometimes we're too much in our head and we don't actually talk to the people who have the jobs that we want. We make assumptions about what we think is needed, but the truth is that until you talk to them, you don't know. So I'm a big proponent of networking to understand. Tell me how you got there, what are the skills that you have, what did it take to get there, and what do you think that I would need in order to be successful in this role? And I think sometimes the answer might be surprising is that you may not need as much education as you think, or you may not need as many certifications. Sometimes it's just your willingness to learn and adapt and try something new.Elisa Martinig:
So how to get started? Is it important to get some volunteering experience initially, or is it possible for graduates to land a well-paid job immediately?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
I think graduates can land a well-paid job immediately, but I think what they don't realize is that the process for that starts way before, just the week or two before graduation. So to me, to help ensure a young adult and someone coming out of college to get the job that they desire whether it's well-paid, whatever that is that can start as early as freshman year. And when I say freshman year, it's not that you're actively interviewing, it's all the things that they can do to make the process easier. So, starting from freshman year, get involved. Pick a club to be a part of, something for fun, something that's related to your major. Get to know your professors. These professors hear about internships and jobs. They also could potentially write a recommendation for you if you do well in the class. Get on LinkedIn. Just establish a basic profile so you can start as you gain more experience and you have more clubs or things that you're a part of as you go through your college career. You can keep adding to that. So it's those that kind of start early and then, as you progress into sophomore, junior year, you really want to start having more of those networking conversations or talking to someone who's a recent grad and look them up through your school or through LinkedIn to say, hey, you got there, tell me how your major helped you get into this role or not, or what did you do that you felt was helpful during your college career that helped better prepare you for that. Going to the career, fair practice, talking to employers, understanding what they're looking for and I think, the more you evolve and obviously trying to get an internship by junior year summer, having some real world work experience. That's a value to employers and I want to know that you can work in an environment and then adapt to their environment. So I think the process of getting the job is something to think about all throughout those four years. Not sure if it always happens, but the sooner that you plan, the easier it becomes. Because you've had practice, you kind of have all these different components put in place to help make it easy and successful.Elisa Martinig:
So you mentioned at the time the importance of networking, how graduate students can go out in the world and find the right network to lend their dream job.Beth Hendler-Grunt:
So, finding the network, let's start with the simplest way is to use people that are like you, and that is usually people who went to the same college, who studied the same major. So most universities have a portal that allow you to access fellow alumni. But, even more simply, linkedin has the tool that if you click the icon of your university, that's on your own page, it brings you to that university page and you can click the tab that says alumni and you can search for people who had the same major, who graduated during a certain year, who are located in a certain city, who are working for certain companies. I love that as a foundation to start finding people that might have the type of job that you're looking for and to start that. And once you find those people and you reach out and say, like you, I'm a fellow alum of this school and I'd love to learn more about your role, then you want to have a conversation, a networking conversation, where you're being curious, where you're asking them questions about how they got to where they are, what it took to get where they are. But you also want to have clarity about yourself to say, and I have these skills and I am capable of this and do you think this could be a value in your company, or do you think there's someone that you can connect me to? You want to have every networking call connect you with another connection. You don't want it to just stop there. You want to keep going in terms of who you can connect with and, I think, using the framework of people that are like you and know you or it doesn't always have to be just showing curiosity that you want to learn more. That's my favorite way to network, and especially alumni, because they tend to be the most friendly and the most sympathetic because they were always they were in the same spot as well.Elisa Martinig:
So sometimes after graduation it can take a while before it's possible to land a job or start a career and, as you mentioned, parents as well may be discouraged the graduates themselves. So at some point do you think what is the right focus? Is it OK to think about just finding a job, or is it better to think about what I want my career to be?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
Great question. So I get this question a lot right Should I take the first job that comes my way just to get out of the house, or should I really focus in on the kind of job that I want or I think leverages my skills? And from seeing this and play out over and over again, I would rather see a recent grad focus in on something that they want that leverages their skills, versus just the first job that comes along. Because what tends to happen is if you take the first job that comes along and it's not in alignment with what you are really great at or what you enjoy or what you feel that you're competent at, you were probably not going to be there very long so you could learn some things from that experience. I'm not saying it's bad, it's just. I feel like, from a sustainability or long term, I'd rather you spend a little bit more time trying to have some better clarity about what your own skills are and then looking for the roles that you think will leverage those skills. You'll probably have not only more success in getting the position but you'll longer success in staying there and having success in that career. And look, everybody's under different constraints and different stresses about income and making money and I am completely supportive of that. But go get a part-time job while you're looking for a job. Don't make it be the end-all job, and I think there's ways to balance it. But I'd rather you take a little bit more time and a little bit more effort to try to find something that really complements the skills that you have.Elisa Martinig:
So when I saw what you do with the Great Next Steps, I felt like that's something that's really needed, and how do you feel you're making the world a better place, even if it seems quite obvious?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
to me. I mean, look, you know, I'm very proud of the work that we are doing and I do think we're making I hope I don't know the world a better place. But if anything, I feel like we are giving young adults some tools that they may not have been able to learn in college for different reasons, whether they're schooled and provided or they didn't seek it out and I really want to help them bridge that gap between their expectations and what they want and what the working world wants. And I think if I can do that for more and more students and young adults that help them feel like they now understand something they didn't understand before, then I'm really proud to be a part of that. And if it's changing the world I'm not sure, but hopefully giving my goals, I want to help more young adults feel confident, because I think there's too much lack of confidence in our young adults right now and they have so much to offer and I want them to feel like you've got it and you just got to share it with more people and we just give them the framework on how to do that.Elisa Martinig:
I think that's great and they definitely need someone like you, and I do think that you're making the world a better place, because when we don't have a job or a career, our lives can be pretty miserable and they can affect our self-esteem, our vision for the future. We may not be able to plan our lives, even financially, for example. So, yeah, I think that's definitely something that is needed out there. What type of advice would you give to anyone during their journey to self-realization?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
Can you clarify the questions on their journey to self-realization in terms of figuring out what they want to do with their lives?Elisa Martinig:
Yes, when they want to not just look in for a job, but to have a clear idea of what they would like to do in their lives, something that is aligned with their vision, their values, how they can see themselves in the long term.Beth Hendler-Grunt:
Yeah, yeah, my advice for someone who's trying to figure out their path is that sometimes it just takes longer than you think. We're in such an instantaneous world, whether it's in social media or the perception that everything just happens in an instant. That's not always true. Things that are really worthwhile sometimes take time and effort and hard work. Sometimes it might look like everything's going so perfect for somebody else or everything's super easy, but that's not always the case. I think you got to really focus on what's good for me. Who am I, what am I about and what do I really want to focus on and achieve? And that takes some time. It could be I need to start with this role. That will build me to another role. I can't necessarily jump into. That whole concept of the word. Dream job sometimes really frustrates me because I don't know if there is such a thing as a dream job, or it takes time to get there or whatever you think is going to match up quite the way you want. You might get one out of three versus two out of three. I think that takes time to evolve and you need to learn and you need to make the stakes and you need to fail, I think, a lot of times people forget that Failure and setbacks and rejection is part of the process, but no one always talks about that. Everyone likes to make it look pretty and easy. I think you just need to know that you got to be patient with yourself. As I say, it's a marathon, it's not a sprint.Elisa Martinig:
This is why we share these stories, because our aim is to show that behind the success there is always a long journey and with determination, it's possible to fulfill our own potential. If anyone would like to reach out to you and where they can find you, Sure, you can find us at nextgreatstepcom.Beth Hendler-Grunt:
If you'd like to buy our Amazon number one bestselling book, you can go directly to Amazon. It's called the Next Great Step the Parents Guide to Launching your New Grad Into a Career.Elisa Martinig:
That's great. I'm sure many parents would like that. So, really, now we are coming to the end of this episode and there is the last question that we ask to every guest on the Career Changes and is, if you could give yourself a piece of advice, what would you say to your younger self?Beth Hendler-Grunt:
I would just say be patient and just kind of, everything that's meant to be will happen, even when things don't feel great or you feel like it might have been a mistake. It actually is all for a reason and it will all work out.Elisa Martinig:
Well, thank you, Beth, for joining us today and sharing your inspirational story and with our listeners. And the last message for our listeners don't forget to subscribe to our channel and tune in next week for a new inspirational episode of the Career Changes. Thank you,