During the last semester of college, I expected to easily find a “real” job post-graduation. All of my friends graduating ahead of me were getting great job offers, I went to a good school, and had good grades. I was working with my career services office to put together my resume and reached out to alums in my field. Everything looked good. And then I found out how much my choice of major and career made a difference: I had chosen a field that was difficult to break into and had low pay prospects once I got in.
After seven months of emailing and mailing out resumes, letters and applications, networking, and spending more and more time in the career center, I decided to take the afternoon off. For cheap entertainment, I bought myself a newspaper and sat down to read the whole thing and do all the puzzles. After reading for a while, I took a look at the thin “help wanted” section and found two jobs in my field. Immediately, I put together a cover letter for each, printed more copies of my resume and walked each one over to the companies who had advertised. Two days later, I had an interview and a week later, I had a real job!
You never know where you will find a link to your next job, so when you are looking, look everywhere: local jobs boards (including your local newspaper), national jobs boards and career websites; network with your friends and colleagues; and if there is a professional organization for your chosen career, reach out to them for job listings and networking opportunities. Here’s how some of our other bloggers got their starts:
I responded to a Craigslist posting for an Account Coordinator at a high-tech PR firm. Unfamiliar with downtown San Francisco at the time, I decided to drive to my interview instead of taking public transportation – BIG mistake! I ended up circling around for several minutes looking for parking, and had to settle for a lot a 20 minute walk from the firm’s offices. I remember frantically calling their front desk, letting them know I was running late, and thinking I’d just killed any chance at an offer while sweating profusely (good times!). But, the interviews went great, and they made the offer to me on the spot. A director there later told me that even though I was late, she loved my “positive energy” walking into the room. Although it ended well for me, I wouldn’t recommend this approach!
It took me about nine months after graduating from college to land my first professional job. I had moved from Iowa to Colorado after graduation and sent out numerous resumes trying to land a job at an advertising agency. Several months later, I moved back to Iowa and worked as a temp while I continued to job-hunt. A friend who worked for a small-town newspaper mentioned that the newspaper in the neighboring town was looking for a reporter and said that I should apply. I interviewed soon afterward and was working in my first “real” job a couple weeks later. Never underestimate the importance of networking. Every professional job I’ve ever had was found through a friend or associate.