So, you’re finally a senior in college. You’ve managed to attend all the late-night frat parties and still wake up for most of your 8am classes. You feel a sense of relief that this is your last year of school. And then suddenly your mind starts turning, your palms start sweating, and you realize you are going to need to get a real job soon. Shit.
Hopefully you’ve done a little preparation for this moment, considering that’s the primary reason you went to college in the first place. However, I understand that it sneaks up on you quite fast. But please, don’t panic. I found myself in a similar situation 3 years ago, and I’ve managed to not go completely broke. So clearly that means I’m now qualified to give you sound career advice, right? Here it goes..
You need to have realistic expectations for your first job. I’m not saying you need to settle for any job that comes your way, but you need to keep in mind that you’re not going to land your dream job right away, and that’s OK. Once you accept the unfortunate reality that Seventeen Magazine probably isn’t going to hire you just yet (that was a tough one for me), you need to work on marketing yourself. Start by updating your Linkedin profile and creating your resume. Depending on the field you are looking to get into, you will need to tailor your resume accordingly. For me, I was looking to get into the Marketing and Public Relations field. Therefore, I wanted my resume to reflect my creativity while still looking professional. If you are looking to get into the business world, you would take a completely different approach.
Next up is the job search. This is where it can get tricky. There are so many job search engines out there and it can be a little overwhelming. My dad gave me some great advice when I first started looking for jobs online. He told me to send my resume to companies I thought I might like to work for, even if they weren’t hiring. This is actually how I landed my first job. I researched PR firms, found some that I could see myself working at, and sent them my resume and cover letter. Though the process was pretty tedious, it worked out in the end. I didn’t land my dream job, but I gained a ton of great experience and it turned out to be a crucial stepping stone for my career.
And now comes the ever so dreaded interview process. As somewhat of an introvert myself, this step was definitely my least favorite. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “fake it til you make it,” right? Well, this phrase couldn’t be more true when venturing out on interviews. Now obviously you don’t want to be fake or lie about your capabilities or your personality, but you need to present your best self to the interviewer. This means that your attire needs to be more professional, you need to be more outgoing (or less if you’re a bit over the top!), you need to be more polite etc, etc.
The final step is to wait… Trust me when I say that you will get job offers. You will get several lousy ones (been there!), but job offers nonetheless. This is where you need to weigh the pros and cons of each position and really figure out if it’s worth your while. I can’t begin to tell you how many bogus offers I got coming out of college. Many companies see a recent graduate as an easy target and, unfortunately, try to take advantage of you. I wont mention names, but I was offered a job after going through two rounds of intense interviews and they wanted to pay me LESS than minimum wage. I was making far more than minimum wage as a waitress at the time, so naturally I didn’t take the job. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. So, please don’t be too discouraged if things like that happen to you or have already happened to you. It’s just the way it goes. People suck.
Trying to figure out what you want to do with your life and how to get there can be a daunting process, but it can also be very exciting!
Happy job hunting!
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