Andrea Yacub Macek is the Founder and CEO of her career coaching business, AYM (aim) Consulting. Providing tactics with a unique blend of strategy, process, and insight, her clients know how to navigate critical moments of career transition, so that it’s productive, successful, and enjoyable.
Here is what Andrea had to say when we asked her about navigating your career journey:
GenHERation®: What is AYM Consulting and what was the inspiration behind it?
Andrea Yacub Macek: The inspiration came from my own career journey. For many undergraduate and professional women, the career journey is not something that is taught and it’s not very intuitive. That served as my primary inspiration for the start of AYM Consulting. My consulting company is a career coaching business that works specifically with high-achieving women who are recent graduates and young professionals. I show them how to stand out, so they can land the job they want.
GenHERation®: What are the top three factors students should consider when choosing a college major?
Yacub Macek: In my opinion, education has this all a little backwards. We’re told at 17/18 years old to pick a degree, put our heads down for four years, and learn practical knowledge about it. Then, we’re put into the real world where a lot of that knowledge is not directly applicable, so we feel lost. I think college should be one to two years of networking, figuring out who you are, what your skill sets are, what you enjoy, and then once you’ve identified a path, learning a mix of practical experience and structural knowledge. Until we get there, however, here are a few things not to do. Don’t do what your friends are doing or what your parents want you to do. In your junior or senior year of high school, start to have conversations with professionals in your life. Get curious, ask them what they do, and start to look for where your interests peak. This process is based on the Japanese concept of ikigai where you consider what you’re great at, what the world needs, where you can get paid for that work, and finding that intersection. When people talk about finding their passion that is what they’re talking about.
GenHERation®: How can you discover your professional passion?
Yacub Macek: Don’t look for the passion. I personally think passion is an overused term right now because it makes it seem like finding your passion is something that just happens. I talk about how I’m living my passion, but it took 13 years to get to. It’s really the concept of finding that intersection of strengths, talents, gifts, and where you can find success. Don’t go out seeking this one specific thing as a passion. Really look for the patterns and themes of what excites you, and what lights you up.
GenHERation®: What tips do you have for students to apply the skills they learned while pursuing their degree to roles that are not directly related to their major?
Yacub Macek: My biggest tip is to network. Network, network, network—for a multitude of reasons. One, because your career path is not linear (though we are often told it is). Networking also gives you a variety of examples for how your skill sets can be used across industries, across job titles, and across different organizations. If you’re unsure of what path you want to pursue networking is equally helpful, so that you can talk to a variety of people and get that information. Networking will give you insight into what careers actually look like, examples of how your skill sets can be used, and how you can translate your skills to match what employers are looking for. As a bonus, you’re authentically building relationships with people, so that when the time is right you can ask for a referral. I have a three-step method—the three C’s—for making networking really accessible. The first step is to start with your circle of friends, family, and co-workers. The second step is that I encourage everyone as early as possible in their undergraduate career to get on LinkedIn and to comment. Commenting on industry posts is a great way to build your personal brand. The third step in the three C method is compliment. Being sincere in a compliment is a great way to break the ice and start networking.
GenHERation®: How should you connect with professionals if you want to learn more about their career journey?
Yacub Macek: The three C method is great for this. However, don’t start with someone you’re really excited to talk to, especially if you’re not experienced at networking. You don’t want to go for the gold right away. I recommend having two tiers of people when you’re networking. In one category would be jobs or industries that you’re lukewarm about, but you want to learn more; you should start with those conversations first. A great way to connect with these people is through LinkedIn using a personalized message. Really take the time to do your research and craft something personal when sending a message to connect.
GenHERation®: How can students put their best foot forward when entering the job market?
Yacub Macek: I’m going to talk about this in terms of common mistakes that I see. If you can catch these mistakes early, it can help you be a competitive candidate. First, make sure you have clarity for a job you want. I hear often from recent undergraduates that they want a job, or they want a fulfilling job, a good job, a job that’s sufficient. However, they don’t really know what that means, so they don’t really know what they’re looking for. They spend a lot of time applying for jobs that aren’t the right fit and then get frustrated when they get interviews for jobs they don’t want, but not for jobs they do want. Having clarity for when you say, “I want a fulfilling job,” and what that list of criteria means for you, is really important.
Second, know how to speak confidently about yourself as a professional. This is something that a lot of students don’t have a ton of practice with. To put your best foot forward, really understand the pieces where you can swap out different words and key terms, as you see in the job description, to really understand how to talk about yourself as a professional.
Third, understand what the employer wants and talk about it from their perspective. Students often talk about what they need and what they want as they transition into the job market. However, the employer wants to hear how you will add value, how you will solve problems, how you are going to save money for the company, and how you are going to do it quickly. The more students can learn to speak in a way that employers understand, the more they will stand out.
GenHERation®: How can you ensure that your educational, professional, and social goals align as you navigate your career journey?
Yacub Macek: Here’s the thing I want people to know, and this is not to be a dream crusher. The beauty of it is they might not always match up, which is hard to hear. You’re going to evolve personally and professionally as you go through college and start your career, so your goals won’t be the same. Understand that everything may not always perfectly align, but when things are a priority to you there are ways to adjust your personal, professional, and educational goals, so that they’re in better alignment to get what you want. When you let go of expectations and realize that it will ebb and flow, and some things will take priority over others, that’s how you can make it work for yourself.
Andrea Yacub Macek is the Founder and CEO of her career coaching business, AYM (aim) Consulting. As a former career advisor and HR business partner, she has seen firsthand how young professionals struggle when adapting to a career and the lack of support and guidance that the education system provides. As a coach, her mission is to close that gap. Providing tactics with a unique blend of strategy, process, and insight, her clients know how to navigate critical moments of career transition, so that it’s productive, successful, and enjoyable.