Find your passion and own your career path, CEOs tell job seekers

Employers are looking for people who are eager to work and want to constantly learn. Be humble, listen, and show a desire to keep growing. But most importantly, you have to be patient, because it takes years of hard work, focus, collaboration and adaptation to land your dream job. Be willing to work for it, and you will succeed.

Tony Argiz, chairman, CEO, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC (MBAF)

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Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. Employers are looking for talent and your willingness to work your way up within a company is a good way in the door.

Jennifer Cramer, CEO, co-founder, The Spice Lab

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You are all very lucky coming out of college in a very robust job market. Your “dream” job today might not be your dream for the rest of your life, so don’t be afraid to explore and find something you might find fulfilling and challenging. For those of you who don’t know what their dream job is yet, don’t worry. Find a job that will give you a stepping stone for some other potential endeavor. Go into an internship in a field you might find interesting and be confident that with hard work, responsibility and an open mind, your dream job will eventually find you.

Maurice R. Ferré, CEO, chairman, INSIGHTEC

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Landing your dream job is secondary to identifying the job itself. Seek a company that will provide you with learning opportunities, a culture of mentoring, empowerment and inclusion where you would feel safe to take a risk and ask questions and present your ideas. Having clarity about your own expectations will increase the chances of landing the job. Recognize how little you likely know but be confident in your ability to learn. When Stantec is seeking entry level employees, we look for passion, cultural fit and attitude. We can teach job-related knowledge.

Adriana Jaegerman, senior principal, managing leader, Stantec

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I would give them the exact same advice Pam, my brilliant (and sassy) step-daughter, gave my two sons when they were first entering the job market:

“Look: your first job WILL stink. You will hate it. You will want to quit the first day! The next job will probably be the same. And the next. And the next. But, eventually, you’ll get a job and notice that, for whatever reason, it stinks less than the prior ones. You’ll figure out why that is — the workplace, the boss, your co-workers, the company culture, etc. — and that will continue until you’ve had the experience to know what you like and what you don’t like, then continue until, hopefully, you find the job that truly makes you happy. Or at least the one that stinks the least.”

As admittedly cynical (and sassy) as Pam’s advice was, I think it is right on the money: Except for a few lucky souls, the overwhelming majority of graduating college seniors don’t have a “dream job” waiting for them simply because they have yet to define their “dream”. Experimentation is critical: Get out there, narrow your interests, try different jobs, find what you like, and keep tweaking. But move forward relentlessly, always cultivating your curiosity. A person ultimately becomes a reflection of their collective experiences; the more we experience, the more we naturally gravitate toward what we find fulfilling, career-wise and otherwise. None of the process is a waste of time. I’m not sure I would be practicing investment immigration law today but for the many nights I spent mopping the gnarly bathrooms of the Rathskellar at 3 a.m. my freshman year at UF. Talk about motivation!

A lot of young attorneys have, over the years, told me that I have their “dream job.” I always carefully explain that as blessed and grateful as I am for my profession, it was never my “dream”…it’s just the one I’ve found that, for me, “stinks the least.”

José E. Latour, founding partner, LatourLaw

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Landing the dream drive requires that the applicant start early and ask everyone to help them identify the job. Many times it’s who you know that can put in a good word for you that helps you land the right opportunity. A résumé that starts with accomplishments that are quantifiable always catches my attention. Be prepared for the interview by researching the company and the interviewer. An interview is also an opportunity to ask questions about the role and what does success look like if the job is landed. I measure a good candidate and determine if I want to hire them by the quality of the questions the applicant asks.

Beatrice Louissaint, president, CEO, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council

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My advice to a graduating college senior would be to explore the world — search for your passion and try to find a career path that aligns with that passion. Never be afraid to fail — failure is a part of building success. Although college is over, remember to never stop learning and to dream big! Lastly, I would share my favorite quote by the late Steve Jobs, “….the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change they world, are the ones who do. Thank different.”

Melissa Medina, president, eMerge

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Research thoroughly any organization you are interviewing with. Present yourself well with passion, purpose and a warm personality. Listen attentively, engage the interviewer, answer questions honestly, and send a thank you note after your interview. Know who you are, know what you want and sell yourself.

John Quelch, vice provost, University of Miami Dean, Miami Business School and Leonard M. Miller University Professor

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A résumé can only say so much about you especially when you have limited experience. Therefore, it is important to stand out in the “electronic job search” market by networking and utilizing social media. Streamline your social media and on-line presence to reflect your dream job or company you wish to land. Show your skills and personality by writing a blog targeting a company or the industry you are focused on.

Network by connecting through LinkedIn and Facebook to people in your field or people who work at companies that you’re interested in. And don’t forget the personal touch; use your professors, family, students, etc. Remember … “people can do something for you even if you are not sure what it is you want them to do” (John Guare).

Kelly Ramsden, managing partner, Office Edge and Legal Edge

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Take charge of your career. Get to know and understand your industry and your audience. Learn about the scope, expectations and challenges of your target job with research, and by connecting with industry professionals. Ask for informational interviews from companies you aspire toward. People are surprisingly willing to help someone looking to learn. I have found that volunteering is a great way to learn about yourself, develop, and gain experience.

Have a résumé and make absolutely sure there are no typos. Employers often research prospects via social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), so make sure your profile is that of a mature professional, and that it highlights your achievements. Although skill and ability are important, employers also want to see a willingness to learn and grow. Ask questions. When you get the job, show up on time, prepare for meetings, meet deadlines, communicate and collaborate.

Chana Sheldon, executive director, MOCA

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Own your career path; don’t expect your company to design it for you. Also, it’s important even now to invest in your future and live within your means. If you have student debt, work to pay it off as fast as you can.

Rajinder Singh, chairman, president, CEO, BankUnited

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