Before I delve into the crux of this post, let me lead with this little disclaimer: No, I don’t have a job lined up for after graduation, and I’m fully aware that I might be breaking the cardinal rule of counting my eggs before they’ve hatched, but I am writing this to explore my feelings on the job search process. I also want to offer some advice that I’ve stumbled upon along the way, commiserate with others going through this stressful ordeal, and solicit help from those who have been in this position before (hmm… that broadens my audience a bit, doesn’t it?)
Thanks to Facebook’s stellar countdown application, I am agonizingly reminded that graduation is looming a mere 1 month, 28 days away. I know there are professionals and professors reading this, rolling their eyes with knowing smiles spreading across their faces, but for us students, this job search business is nerve-racking. It may seem like we have plenty of time to line up that first job, but every day that passes only adds to our increasing stress levels. We dread the prospect of being unemployed!
I admit that I probably worry about finding a job more than most, but I promise I don’t need to be prescribed blood pressure meds yet. I’m learning that it’s a normal process—college seniors WILL ALWAYS want that sense of security that comes with job offers, and because we aren’t sure how to handle ourselves, we worry.
We get stressed. We spend hours reviewing our résumés. We meticulously edit every line in our cover letters. We hound our professors. We whine to our junior and sophomore friends who are lucky to have a couple more years. We e-mail and call potential employers until we feel like stalkers.
It gets a little daunting, not to mention time consuming.
Personally, I’ve been feeling the pressure for the past two weeks. For USF’s spring break, I decided to head to Washington, D.C., which is where I want to move after graduation. I planned on visiting old friends from Elon University and sightseeing, but I figured I’d set up some interviews while I was there. I thought this would be a relatively easy process—contacting agencies, expressing my interest in the firm and industry itself, and networking along the way, while agencies raved about their opportunities for recent grads.
At first, the results were discouraging. Few e-mails were returned, and the ones that were felt like letters of rejection. Résumés and cover letters went unanswered. My confidence was waning, but I was determined to schedule at least one interview while I was in the area.
The turning point came when I enlisted the help of several outstanding
professors and reached out to what I thought was a limited network of friends newly relocated to the D.C. area. These two separate entities selflessly sent out e-mails and made phone calls on my behalf, which eventually led to interviews at some very renowned PR and consulting firms. Working off this confidence, I took it upon myself to directly contact some agencies’ HR departments. After speaking with them and sending my résumé, I added a couple more interviews to my itinerary. So, no, I don’t have a job lined up, but making that first step has suppressed my anxiety (a little bit, at least).
So, here’s the secret:
The new rule for landing that first job isn’t really new. It’s merely a reminder to maintain confidence in yourself and your abilities. Yes, you will feel discouraged, but find comfort in knowing that there are people out there who want to help you succeed. Even when you think you’re fighting a futile battle, you aren’t. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, and use the network you have to meet new people and find out about the field, not just job opportunities.
If anyone has any words of wisdom for the class of 2008, feel free to share. I’m very interested on how my peers are handling their own job searches, and what professors and professionals recommend we do from now until graduation!