This blog is part of a series of summer columns by NEXT Careers Services of the University of Groningen.
Dealing with success
Lately I’ve been wondering how to deal with being seen by some as a success story. Why is getting a job seen as a feat to be celebrated? What did I do differently than others to be featured in a book on how to get out of unemployment?

Prior to getting my jobs as communication expert at NEXT and as a teacher in multimedia design I went through a period of being somewhat unemployed. The inevitable downside of finishing a communications study in the north of the Netherlands I guess: too much competition and too few jobs.

The Next Chapter.
One year later I’m featured in a book (Nina JanssensAfgestudeerd en wat nu?) about starters who successfully got out of the unemployment gap between study and career. It is an honor, sure, but it also feels a bit weird. Me being portrayed as a success story, as somewhat of a role model on how to get a job? Not something I envisioned myself being even though I certainly don’t mind sharing my tips and tricks (as I will do below!)

Getting a job isn’t normal anymore?
I just can’t help thinking it goes to show how messed up the labour market must be, if getting a job isn’t “normal” anymore and a successful road to a job becomes a feat to admire. I am a firm believer in celebrating success: I encourage all my students to celebrate their successes no matter how small they are. But for me to be one of 28 people whose stories are bundled in a book as a guide for success is not something I anticipated. Truth be told, it kind of makes me a bit nervous. After all: shouldn’t getting a job be the logical step after years of studying? Something we should indeed celebrate, but at its core shouldn’t be lifted up to be something admirable? Most of all: why me? What makes me (and the others featured in the book) special?

The recipe
So what was my recipe for “success”? A while back I would’ve said working hard and having absolute faith in my moment of luck coming sooner or later. It wasn’t until I read this article by Benjamin Hardy that I found the words that describe my game plan best. And that is the lesson I want to share.

The game plan
You see, I committed to my dream of getting a job in either communication or education. I had a goal to aim for. Most of my job applications resulted in nothing, but it didn’t matter. The outcome of each letter wasn’t important; it simply meant it wasn’t my time yet. Still, it was a good way of getting to know what parts of my letters and CV worked well and to improve on them.

Knowing what I wanted to do, what I’m good at and being able to communicate that helped me define my personal brand. All of the sudden recruiters came knocking at my door. When it became clear being unemployed after a few weeks didn’t feel like a holiday anymore I became motivated to take on a traineeship.

Financial benefits: none. Career benefits: 100%, I knew this was my ticket on the job-train. Knowing from the get-go I was going to succeed made rejections easy to handle, but more importantly made being unemployed a time to do whatever felt like doing. It was a fun time, not a bad one (even though there were some hard moments). And that, above everything else, is what kept me going: faith in success and a #yolo mind set.

That traineeship became my part time job of delivering career advice through social media, marketing NEXT and employability at the RUG and so much more.

Nothing special
My success isn’t special. It’s not something that you can’t grasp. It’s nothing more than a mind set you can develop for yourself as well. And if you do need a personal story to inspire you, just contact me at NEXT. I’ll be glad to help!

Vincent Tillema
Social Media & Communication
NEXT Career Services

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