Jen Glantz wasn't sure which career path to take when she graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2010. "I graduated college with a degree in English, poetry and journalism," she says, "so I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do."
She dove into a series of odd jobs including as a consultant for a sorority, public relations for Jewish nonprofits and copywriter for a startup. But outside of her professional life, Glantz noticed she was constantly being asked to be people's bridesmaid. She took the role pretty seriously.
"I showed up on time, I did what I had to do, I didn't create any drama," she says. And she realized there might be money to be made around this skill. In 2014, she posted a "bridesmaid for hire" ad on Craigslist. Within days, she received hundreds of inquiries.
That's how Bridesmaid for Hire was born, a business that now offers services including hiring a bridesmaid like Glantz and getting help on the maid of honor speech. Glantz, 35, has since also parlayed her success into three book deals, including one for her memoir, "Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire)," as well as a podcast, a newsletter and online courses. Altogether her various income streams bring in more than $5,000 in passive income per month.
Here's her career advice for recent grads trying to forge their own career path.
To begin with, Glantz would recommend young people surround themselves with folks from all sorts of industries.
"Try to find yourself different communities of people who are doing alternative types of work or just unique things in general," she says. "And that can help you spark inspiration and ideas" for where you might want to go yourself. You can do this by joining Slack groups for various types of professionals, for example, going to talks for different industries or attending conferences.
As far as conferences go, Glantz likes South by Southwest, which takes place in Austin, Texas, in March of every year. "The people who go to these conferences are often seeking networking, meeting new people, community," she says. "There's also events usually that happen outside of the conference around the city so that you can get to know more people as well."
Glantz would also advocate that recent grads keep learning.
"Supplement what you've learned in college with other information out there," she says. You can do this by taking online courses like those on LinkedIn Learning or Udemy, taking in-person courses at a local college or university or by doing some one-on-one coaching with a professional in a skill you're looking to hone.
"I majored in creative writing but a lot of the skills I've used in the past 10 years have been digital marketing skills," she says. "I learned a lot of those skills by taking online courses, a lot of them free courses that I found just to teach me the structure and the baseline."
When she applied these marketing skills to her own projects, she was able to build more of an expertise.
Finally when it comes to figuring out how to make money, whether that be full time or on the side as you figure out your path, Glantz encourages young people to lean into their existing skills.
Ask yourself, "what skills do you already have? And then how can you optimize those skills?" she says. "And what I mean by that is not just skills that you learned in college, not just skills related to your degree, but also personality skills, character skills, hobbies."
Bridesmaid for Hire is a good example of that. It started when Glantz realized she was good at this particular role, and maybe that could be more widely applied. She did the same with public speaking.
"I realized I was good at public speaking," she says. "So I started to offer an online course that people could take teaching them all the public speaking techniques that I had."
Ultimately, when it comes to your career, remember that "people will value other experience that you've had that was outside of what you studied," she says. So think big picture about what that experience might be.
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