surviving life after college kenny soto

5 Tips To Use When Surviving Life After College

Surviving Life After College Isn’t Easy

I recently started the journey of living life as a college graduate and one day something dawned on me. As I was in my room thinking about all of the hard lessons I had recently experienced I got the inspiration to create a series of articles logging the insights I’m getting to make life easier for anyone who is a recent college graduate or just someone starting their 20s. As time goes on, I’ll be creating separate articles on each of the subjects discussed below. I’d love your feedback in the comments section after reading this (or you can reach out to me on social media as well). The more feedback I get from you, my audience, the more useful these articles become!

Getting A Job: Using LinkedIn & Networking Events

  • LinkedIn

It’s the best platform to apply for jobs. With a click of a button, you can send over your profile and resume to countless organizations who are hiring. When I got my job at ThomasNet, I submitted 162 applications in a day to get the opportunity for an interview — all through LinkedIn. And that took me only an hour and a half to do.

  • Networking

Networking is essential to getting a job. While you’re prospecting online, don’t forget also to put yourself out there in the real world. Opportunities come from your network, and if you’re not growing it — you won’t have any opportunities presented to you. I still get freelance gigs offered to me on a monthly basis because when people think of someone who can help them with their social media marketing, I’m one of the first names that come to mind. Below is a list of tips you can use when you begin networking.

  • MeetUp & Eventbrite are your best friends. Use these platforms to make your event search easy and manageable.
  • When going to networking events, have a clear objective. Who is that you want to meet? People have the issue of wanting to speak to every single person in the room, and that’s not the approach that leads to results. Having 1-2 meaningful conversations with people that you’ve done research on is what you should be aiming for. Look for group organizers and search for them on LinkedIn to find out more about what companies they are associated with. If you can’t connect with them at the event, thank them on LinkedIn after, letting them know you enjoyed the event and that you’d love to follow up and speak to them personally.
  • Have a clear way to follow up. No connection works, regardless of who exchanges their business card with you, if you don’t have a clear “to-do” so that both of you follow up with each other. Grab a cup a coffee or grab lunch with them.
  • Connect online, either on LinkedIn (preferably) or on another social media platform.
  • Networking doesn’t work if you only meet with them once or twice. You want to see and connect with them at multiple events.
  • DON’T ASK FOR OPPORTUNITIES. Seek to learn from your connections, the opportunities come from the growth of the relationship you create with your new connections.

Budgeting: The Best Way to Keep Your Sanity

Don’t learn this the hard way. 40% of every paycheck you get should be allocated to your savings and assets. I won’t go into too many details as far as which savings account would be right for you, but I would recommend using Acorns and Robinhood for your assets. Acorns allows you to save money based off of cents you allocate from purchases that get rounded up to the nearest dollar and Robinhood allows you to invest in the stock market by giving you specific companies to choose from. I always follow the rule of — only investing in companies that I am a customer of.

As far as creating a budget that works for you, I suggest just having money set aside for these essential categories (ordered in priority):

  • Rent
  • Savings
  • Food
  • Personal Care
  • Phone Bill
  • House cleaning products
  • Wifi
  • Gym or Yoga Membership
  • Student Loans
  • Credit Card
  • Misc Expenses – Books, Movies, Bars, etc.

The online tool I use to track all of my expenses is Mint. They have a mobile app that can help me not only see if I’m spending too much money on one particular category, but it also gives me reminders of when my bills are due so I can plan ahead.

Food Shopping & Cooking: Do It The Right Way

Never go food shopping if you can’t get at least one item on sale, coupons are everything when it comes to saving money. Another great tip that is often overlooked is NEVER GO FOOD SHOPPING IF YOU’RE HUNGRY. You end up shopping with your eyes and ignoring the essentials on your list. I usually only purchase groceries to last me two weeks. Often, if you buy too much food, you can let things go to waste.

For cooking, regardless of what you’re making for dinner, one money saving tip I use is setting aside a portion of what I make in a Tupperware for lunch the following day. This is a habit I picked up from my Mother, and I don’t regret doing so. It’s helped me save 15% of my total food budget, which I’ve now allocated to my emergency fund.

Finding A Place To Live

I have come to the conclusion that there are only two rules you need to remember. The context for finding a room or apartment is different for everyone, but I find these two tips to be extremely applicable, regardless of the situation:

  1. See the apartment in person before discussing the logistics of payment.
  2. Move in with people you know or that a friend/family member can vouch for (saves you the stress of worrying whether or not your roommate is a crazy person).

Living With Roommates

As far as living with roommates goes, I suggest three things.

  1. Have a rotating chore list so everyone does their fair share of the housework.
  2. Always let each other know when you’re having guests over so there are no unpleasant surprises.
  3. Have a shared budget for groceries, it decreases the burden of having to worry about food.

The reason I haven’t put any advice in regards to living on your own in this article is simply because I don’t have that experience yet to give anything of value. Once I cross that bridge, I’ll create some content around that.

Recommended articles:

  1. Time Management: A 6-Step Guide For Millennials
  2. Getting a Job After College, Spec Work is The Best Method
  3. The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s

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doing spec work kenny soto

Getting a Job After College, Spec Work is The Best Method

What is Spec Work?

I’d like to preface this article with where this idea came from—Gary Vaynerchuk. I have been following Gary for exactly over a year now, and one of the very first doubts about him came when he talked about doing spec work (free services) for people. This work is supposed to be for the purpose of business development and expanding your network.

Spec work is any kind of creative work, either partial or completed, submitted by designers to prospective clients before designers secure both their work and equitable fees. Under these conditions, designers will often be asked to submit work in the guise of a contest or an entry exam on existing jobs as a “test” of their skill.”

I decided that instead of just taking what he said and accepting it, that I would test it for myself (which in retrospect, is what he wanted his viewers to do when he talked about the subject in the 1st place). The story below is how it all happened and how it can help you if you’re still in college or just graduated, and you’re looking to grow in your industry.

Finding a need and getting the client.

Now, this article focuses on the context of my particular skills—skills in digital marketing (SEO, web development, and Social Media Marketing) that I used to get spec work. Although this may not apply to all industries, if your skills map to working on being creative and providing services for a client that don’t require a license or specific certifications, this can work for you. The first step I had in this process was to find a customer that needed my help. I knew from the start that I’d be doing this work for an exchange outside of financial compensation, perhaps a referral to a job after college or something else.

While I was at my college’s local bar, Grill On The Hill, I felt the need to have more of my college friends become more aware of what the bar offered. It was an excellent place that was just starting out, and whenever I went, there were a lot of locals but, not enough college students. One evening, while hanging out with my fraternity brothers, I saw one of the bar’s owners outside. I walked to him, introduced myself and what I do, and told him that I would market his bar online—for free.
Obviously, there was a catch. I was still figuring out what that would be myself—when I was pitching to the owner. Several days later I was hired as the bars digital marketing consultant with a small monthly budget to do Facebook marketing and to create their website with the help of one of the bartenders there. It was my second time creating a website and creating any paid media on Facebook.

What did I get in return from the experience?

Besides gaining valuable experience in doing Facebook ads (the bar was my second client at my time), I was able to learn more about my craft holistically. I began to understand that marketing doesn’t work without tying your campaign goals to actual business goals that drive revenue—it’s not enough to promote a bar’s event to everyone then, making sure you promote it to the ideal customers (people who spend money and drive revenue). In return, besides getting experience, the bar gave me a free beer (and occasionally a free meal) once to twice a week for eight months. This showed me that even if you aren’t making an income for the work you do for someone, there can always be an exchange of equal value for said work. That’s the main message I want to drive home, especially for college students, doing work someone doesn’t necessarily need to equate to you making money.

The hidden value in working for free

It is often taught that the work we do has to produce an income, but it doesn’t. Work can help you build your network. Work can help you expose yourself to new ideas and possibilities. Instead of focusing on monetary gain, focus your job for skills-based learning. It’s because of my experience working at Grill on the Hill that, it gave me the opportunity to see what marketing services I could pitch to my college and try my hand at making them my first paid client (you can find out more about that story here).

I’d love to know your thoughts on this article. Do you think work should only be done for monetary gain/income? Have you done similar work in exchange for services, experience, etc.? Let’s chat in the comments section down below!

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Recommended articles:

  1. 6 Reasons An Unpaid Internship Is Absolutely Worth Your Time
  2. How I Got Employed After Two Weeks Of Graduating College.
  3. How can college students leverage social media to get interviews at startups?
Baim Hanif Kenny Soto Graduating College

How I Got Employed After Two Weeks Of Graduating College

If you’ve heard or read my rants for the past 6-8 months, I’m constantly trying to convince people to begin working on their personal brands. Until now, the only results I could show on the benefits of working on my personal brand is being ranked number one for my own name on Google SERPs (search engine return pages). However, now I actually can prove that what I’m alluding to when I’m speaking about my brand is the fact that it only took me two weeks to get a job after I graduated. Mind you; I didn’t even apply for the position.

Read More
Job search tips 2016 Kenny Soto

Are You Ready For The 2016 Job Hunt? (12 Min. Read)

The Times Have Changed…. It’s time to fix your job hunting techniques.

The year is almost ending, and it’s time to start thinking about what companies we are going to apply to after graduation. However, there’s one big issue: our resumes just don’t cut it anymore. 93% of all Hiring Managers use resume scanning software to filter candidates from the application pool. I was recently told this by TopResume, a company that reviews resumes to be up to ATS (applicant tracking system)  standards.


What alarmed me the most is that I learned that most companies use these resume scanning software systems. I would love to work for, Apple, Amazon, and Google to name a few. So what is one to do when attempting to apply for a job in a time and age where just this year, college graduates have made up 40% of the unemployment population in the US? As young professionals, we need to change our job hunting strategies and begin using the internet to stand out from the crowd.Why it’s time for a personal brand.

Why it’s time for a personal brand.

There is one thing you need to stop believing and that is that a well-constructed resume will help you get the interview. Although it is still important to develop your work experience and have a crisp resume, you need to know that everyone and their mother has one as well…and she is most likely applying to your dream job as well (here’s a PDF you can read later to see why I say this). The number one way to stand out from the sea of resumes that make it after the dreaded ATS’s scan through everyone else’s is a personal brand! Creating your personal brand online can help your job hunt tremendously, and it doesn’t take that much money to start.

I highly recommend creating a website through a CMS (content management system) such as WordPress or SquareSpace that don’t require any coding skills to enable you to start putting who you are on the internet. The very first thing an employer who sees your resume does is Google you! You need to make sure that you are in control of your digital persona. People will take photos of you and build content about you via social media that you will be indexed for on Google. Either you take control of your image or others will do it for you, and your hiring manager will see it.

Kenny Soto Job Hunt Help

There are many ways to get started!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’ve just spent an all-nighter writing this 10-page essay, I got my B+, now what?” Well, the coolest thing about a blog is that if you don’t have anything to showcase right away, use your old homework (make sure it pertains to what you are interested in doing in the future) and use the content as an article.

The hardest part about building a personal brand and using a blog is creating content but, don’t let that stop you from using old work to kickstart your content creation. If you write about what you’re interested in, it will be enjoyable, just be authentic.

If you don’t have the money right now to set up a website, there are two alternatives you can use! Don’t give yourself an excuse not to do this today:

Kenny Soto Job Hunt Help

Use the posts option on your LinkedIn and Medium accounts to create a personal website substitute while you save up around $50 to make your personal branding website. You need to begin today to make your job hunt easier in the future.

Up next…drum roll… researching your target companies

The next step as you journey off into creating an awesome personal brand is to begin finding out more about the culture of the companies you want to work for in the future. It can all start with a Tweet or InMail (LinkedIn message) directly to someone in the business you feel may answer you. The secret to increasing your chances to getting a response is to NEVER ASK FOR A JOB REFERRAL, instead ask them:

  • What do they think about the industry?
  • Where do yourself in the company?
  • What do you believe was a contributing to your success in establishing and advancing your career?

There are more questions you can ask but ultimately the reason they will answer you is because you will always begin or end the interaction with, “I wanted to know if you had the time to answer a few questions so I can put the content on my blog to help my viewers.” Or, “…so I can get other ideas to help build new content.” This technique has worked for me and if all else fails on Twitter and LinkedIn, then just use Quora.

Kenny Soto Job Hunt Help

Quora is a platform that allows you to ask anyone in the world any question you may have as well as enable you to answer any question that they have posted. The network on this platform is full of amazing and intelligent people who, when engaged correctly, can also be asked for a short 15-minute phone call or quick conversation over a cup of coffee. This provides you the opportunity for  you to expand your network before applying for jobs. Heck, even if they don’t help you get the job you do three crucial things:

  • Help grow your content on your site.
  • Learn more about the industry you are entering.
  • Increase the size of your professional network.

Speaking of networking for your job hunt…

Kenny Soto Job Hunt Advice

Another resource you can use to help your job hunt is networking websites. It’s not what you know or even who you know, it’s who knows you! What you need to do is take the initiative to actually go out and meet other business professionals if you really want to get the needed connections to help your job hunt. I recommend choosing MeetUp as your main platform for networking. You can search via any topic you want to learn about or any industry you wish to join. At the very minimum, you will expand your knowledge around your particular field and meet new people.

The challenge you need to be aware of as you go into the new year is that a resume is no longer enough. These are a few of the many steps you need to take in order to have a better chance at landing the job you want in the coming year. I hope this was some help and feel free to click in the articles below to learn more about personal branding and job hunt techniques.

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Recommended Articles:

  1. The 6 Steps to Building a Personal Website
  2. Beat the Robots: How to Get Your Resume Past the System & Into Human Hand
  3. How I got famous executives to answer my emails when I was an unknown 21-year-old entrepreneur