Breaking News: Don’t Panic Trying to Find That First Job out of College

Four years certainly do go by quickly – especially when you spend the majority of your time trying to graduate on time, writing a weekly newspaper column, and still maintaining some sort of a social life. However, given all of that, I still felt like a lazy bum because it was April of my senior year at a respectable state university, and I didn’t have a job. Not even a whiff. I started to question myself.

    • Should I Have Gotten More Experience? Instead of listening to my Career Center counselor and getting an editing or writing internship, I thought my time at the paper would have been good enough.
    • Did I Research the Industry Enough? I had a romantic notion that there would always be enough room in the newspaper industry for talent, which leads me to my next concern…
    • Was I Even Good Enough? While it was true that I had a regular column detailing campus lifestyle, were my musings just that – jumbled words put together that my editor allowed me to publish because we were floormates freshman year?

job search

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Needless to say, I found myself in a bit of a scramble. My boyfriend would ask me what the matter was, and I would snap back at him that nothing was wrong. While I should have been enjoying my final weeks as a senior, I had job anxiety. It didn’t help that every news story I read was pretty much a testament to my greatest fear – I wouldn’t find a job, and I would live in parents’ house until I was forty. And then the depression hit.

Luckily, this story does have a happy ending. I was able to find a job a few months later that I love and find satisfying. I’m not going to say that it was easy and all it took was shopping for the right career girls clothes that matched my style and personality. I’m not going to say there were days when I didn’t feel like leaving bed or I had one or two too many glasses of wine to hide my frustration. However, one day I decided to reevaluate my approach. Here’s what I learned:

  • Don’t Become Lost in the Internet Job Board Wasteland. If you go to career websites like Indeed or Monster and apply for every job that you see, you’re not going to get anywhere. Also, if you send the same application and generic cover letter to the job recruiter, your email and phone mailboxes will probably be empty. I know mine was. You have to cater your resume to the job specifications and responsibilities.
  • Network and then Network Some More. I heard this all of the time, but I didn’t realize the importance of it until I submitted a couple hundred applications without a bite. The majority of jobs are given through employee referral or simply because you know someone. Hiring managers are more likely to trust an employee’s recommendation rather than reading a hundred cover letters. Make yourself known. Use social media to get the word out in a respectful fashion that you’re on the job hunt. Become a member of professional associations of the industry you want to work in. In my case, I joined the MLA and several other organizations involved in writing. Volunteer, so you’ll feel good about yourself and meet new people.
  • Reexamine Who You Are and What You Want to Do. Since my days as a writer for The Daily Brave, my high school newspaper, I thought that reporting was my calling. Yes, that’s right. I knew what I was going to do with the rest of my life at the age of 16. Now all I had to do was find the right guy and I would have my storybook life. Unfortunately, because of this, I didn’t give myself a chance to explore other paths. I didn’t realize that I loved to talk to people, and I was a detail-hog. I didn’t want to spend all of my day in the office, yet with a writing job, that’s probably what I would have had to do. While it’s certainly possible to find your calling at a young age, it’s not a certainty.

I was able to find a job that I liked because I did all of these things. I searched for jobs that I found to be interesting and ones that I knew I would enjoy. I shopped for clothes online for job interviews as they presented good deals, so I didn’t go broke trying to look the part.  I told all of my friends that I was job hunting and met new people through professional associations, volunteering, alumni mixers, and more. Finally, I bended a little bit. I looked for jobs that involved some writing, but also ones that involved social interaction and doing good.

I didn’t find that perfect newspaper job, but I did find the perfect job for me. Here’s hope that you’ll find the perfect one for you too!

<a href=”“>Mercedes Potter</a> is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow her <a href=” @CedesPotter!/CedesPotter”>@CedesPotter</a> to see what else she’s been blogging about.

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