Lawrence Graham; Teen-ager markets job-hunting expertise
Boston — At 19, Lawrence Graham considers himself an experienced job hunter and career counselor. Knowledgeable enough, in fact, to have written a book on the subject - ''Jobs in the Real World.''
As a junior at Princeton University, Mr. Graham got the inspiration for the book while working as a student counselor in the Princeton career center. Drawing on this experience, he geared his manual toward 3tudents aking the school-to-job connection.
''People automatically assume that students at Ivy League schools know how to get work. They need to learn strategies and basic skills just like anybody else, '' he explains.
Mr. Graham asked recruiters from businesses what students tend to do wrong at interviews. They responded that many students don't dress properly, don't have a good idea of their long-term plans, and don't come prepared to tell the interviewer how they can benefit the company. He adds that students don't take full advantage of their college counseling services and personal connections - professors, friends of parents, alumni, and even classmates.
As a job-hunter himself, Lawrence Graham has enjoyed unqualified success, modestly admitting that he's gotten every job he earnestly pursued. Starting as a babysitter at age 13, he moved on to teaching tennis. He later worked in the law department of the planning office in his hometown, White Plains, N.Y. As a college student, he spent one summer as an aide to a White House assistant and the next as a student producer for NBC radio in New York.Mr. Graham maintains that the key to success is assertiveness and persistence in following through on a project or idea. Competition for the White House position was keen, and he had no inside connections. He began by sending the office a telegram announcing the coming arrival of his application. On the application itself he scrawled URGENT in large letters on the envelope. Persistent telephone calls and an avalanche of recommendations from professors and past employers secured the job.
How does Graham Lawrence have time to combine the academic demands of Princeton with book writing and promotion? He shrugs off the challenge, saying, ''The more I have to do, the more I get done . . . I get my homework done during the week and write on weekends.''
In almost three years at Princet n, Mr. Graham has maintained an A-average, is an active member of the Equestrian Club and the Student Friends gf the Art Museum (at Princeton), and edits the university's Career Service newsletter. He is also one of the youngest members of two national authors' guilds - Authors Guild Inc. and the Authors League of America.
''Jobs in the Real World,'' published by Grosset & Dunlap, is Lawrence Graham's second book. His first, ''The Ten Point Plan for College Acceptance,'' sold 20,000 copies, and further exemplifies his drive and ingenuity. He explains , ''The hardest part was getting it published. Freshman year, after I had finished two chapters, I Walked into a phone booth on Park Ave. (in New York City) with two rolls of dimes, looked under 'publishers' in the Yellow Pages, and started calling alphabetically down the list.''
Success came slowly. Most publishing houses brushed him off with a quick ''see ya later, kid'' or told him to ''call back when you have a little more experience.'' A few of the more benevolent publishers suggested hiring a literary agent. Mr. Graham again let his fingers do the walking, this time A through Z down the list of literary agents. ''And I mean A to Z. . . . My agent's name is Susan Zeckendorf.'' Once he overcame the age barrier, his youthfulness became a plus for publicity purposes. His numerous media appearances include The Phil Donahue Show and The Today Show, as well as scores of radio call-in programs and newspaper articles.
Youth has also not hindered Mr. Graham's credibility as an actual career counselor. He often counsels graduate students at Princeton, and has offered advice to people of all ages on radio talk shows around the country, even people starting on second and third careers. Fan mail has been pouring in from both students and parents, some from as far away as Israel and the Netherlands.
What's in store for the ambitious teen-age author? The Ford Foundation will have Graham Lawrence this summer doing work either in urban youth education or the arts. After graduation from Princeton, he hopes to postpone the ''real world'' a little longer by attending law school. Of course, his first love - writing - continues. A third book is in the works, he admits with a grin, although this time it will not be a ''how to'' manual.