Everyone who is about to enter the job market could use some advice from an expert. T.C. Williams students got just such advice from Jeff Taylor, the chief monster at monster.com.
Taylor spoke to a small group of students at T.C. on May 22. His visit was sponsored jointly by Devry University, monster.com and the Alexandria Education Partnership. The round-table discussion was one of many that Taylor is conducting at high schools around the country.
“I speak to college students who are about to graduate and to you who are about to go on to college,” Taylor said to the students. “Four years ago when today’s college graduates entered school, they did so in the best economy that this country had seen in a generation. As they leave college, they are entering a job market in the worst economy that this country has seen in many years. There is reason to be hopeful, though. While you will be entering college in a poor economy, you will be graduating from college and entering the job market in one of this country’s largest labor shortages in a generation.”
Taylor should know. He is the founder and chairman of monster.com. The company was the 454th to register on the Worldwide Web and is a leader in innovative job recruiting. There are 14 million visits to monster.com each month. It is available in 21 different countries and nine languages.
The idea came to Taylor in a dream. “Do you remember what you dream?” he asked the students. “I keep a pad and pen by my bed so that I can write down what I dream. I had a client who told me that he didn’t want any more big ideas but wanted a monster idea. That night, I dreamed about creating a monster bulletin board. I went to a coffee shop the next morning and worked for several hours and designed the interface that we still use at monster.com.”
And this from a man who took 23 years to graduate from college. “What did you study in college?” asked one student.
“I went to school at the University of Massachusetts,” Taylor said. “I really liked starting businesses, but I didn’t go to class too much. Six years after I started school, I decided that I would take a job as a disc jockey and earn some money.”
After that, he worked at various jobs, culminating in the creation of monster.com. “I did go back to school, though,” he said. “First, I attended the executive M.B.A. program at Harvard and was the speaker at my own graduation. Then, I went back to undergraduate school and graduated in 2001. I was also the speaker at that graduation.”
SINCE HE WAS doing things backward, he got braces after his last graduation and has worn them for two years. “All I need are the Depends to make the backward trend complete,” he said.
Karla (last name not provided), a senior at T.C., plans to attend NOVA next year, study accounting and eventually become a tax lawyer. She asked Taylor about motivation. “Did anyone ever tell you that you weren’t good enough to do something?” she asked.
“I found that my own personal motivation was really what mattered along the way,” he said. “I really didn’t care that much about what other people thought. One of the recommendations that I would make to all of you is that not only do you have to work smart but you have to work hard. I figured out early on that I could work harder than everyone else around me, and that really prepared me for everything else.”
Chia Bradley is also a senior. She has been accepted at Georgia Tech and wants to be a nurse or a doctor.
“Set your bar high,” Taylor told her. “Plan to be a doctor and then if something happens that you can’t hack that, you have a wonderful career in nursing to fall back on. If you start out to be a nurse and something happens, then you may not end up in the medical field at all.”
And that was the overriding theme of his message to the students. “My definition of an entrepreneur is a person who, when everyone around you is telling you that you are crazy, has a good idea and is brave enough to see it through,” he said.
Another key to success is “showing up,” Taylor said. “I show up. I spoke at a business breakfast this morning, now I’m here talking to you, and this afternoon I have a conference call in my office. Anytime that I have an opportunity to go out and talk about monster.com or about careers, I do it. If you want to be successful, you have to show up.”