7 Things I learned While Applying for Jobs After College
I finished graduate school in 2016. I received my master’s degree in Corporate & Organizational Communication, but I would have to find a place to use it! Upon the excitement of finally being done with school, was the stress of having to find a place of employment. In this post, I’ll tell you about what it took for me to finally find a job and, hopefully, keep you from feeling discouraged (don’t worry, you will definitely find a job in time)! I’ll also fill you in on seven things I learned while applying for jobs that could be useful to you.
Here’s my story.
I had a decent amount of work experience as well as two really good internships throughout my undergraduate career. I even worked as a graduate assistant while I was completing my master’s degree. I always had a passion for writing and communications and my internships allowed me to enhance those skills. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given the opportunity for full-time employment at the companies I interned with. This was upsetting at first, but I knew that I had no choice but to start from scratch.
I knew I wanted to be in the field of communications, doing something that involved writing and/or social media and/or marketing. Visiting job boards was getting old really quick. I was either seeing the same jobs over and over again or postings from sketchy companies that didn’t even have a website. I also had my student loans in the back of my head and knew that I would have to find a job that paid well and had good benefits. With this is in mind, I decided to narrow my search to government and state jobs. I started with USAJobs; I applied to sooo many jobs (and got turned down a lot) on their site; it almost seemed hopeless to apply for any more on there. Since I wasn’t having much luck with government jobs, I started looking into school systems like high schools and colleges; that way I could at least possibly have a state job.
I applied for several positions at schools in the Maryland area. Out of all the high schools and colleges that I applied to work for, only one university called me in for an interview. Luckily, the only university that interviewed me was the one to hire me! My current job is more than I could ever ask for as a first-time “real world” employee. I am working at a Division I university, in a communications-related field. I can honestly say that this was the perfect place for my first job, but also the start of my career. I am making more money than I ever expected to make for my first job and since it is a state institution, I have great employee benefits. Check, check and check!
Overall, it took me three months to find a job. It felt like a long time, but in retrospect, it wasn’t. I got to enjoy my summer and by the time September rolled around, I was starting my first day of work. Though this process was very frustrating at times, I must say that it was rewarding. Even though I was sometimes discouraged, I never gave up on myself. I told my father that I would have a job by September. I think at times he doubted me, but I did it (and he gave props where props is due, lol)! I remained persistent, focused and dedicated to finding a job and that’s just what I did. Here’s the good news: you can do it too!
Here are the top seven things I learned while applying for jobs:
- You don’t have to go by the rulebook. I know a lot of people assume that if you do an internship at a company they’re guaranteed to hire you; but in some cases, this just isn’t true. Just because you had an internship somewhere does not mean they will hire you (even if they say they will). It’s okay to look for jobs outside of the company you interned with, and sometimes you have to.
- Narrow your search. I was super stressed out applying for every communications job under the sun. I couldn’t keep track of all the applications I was putting in (not that they got back to me anyway, lol). Ultimately, I had much more success once I narrowed down my searched and was specific about the exact kind of job I wanted.
- You’ll get rejected more than you get accepted, and that’s okay. Many of my applications went into a black hole. I never heard anything, even if they chose to go with someone else. The important thing is that even when I didn’t hear back from a company, I continued to apply. I knew that someone had to say yes eventually! I applied for COUNTLESS jobs. Out of all those jobs I got two phone interviews and only one in-person interview. Luckily, the organization that actually called me in for an interview, hired me. This leads me to my next point.
- Persistence is key. Even when you get discouraged, don’t stop applying. Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board and work on your resume, cover letter and/or overview to make it more appealing. I had to change my cover letter and overview for pretty much every single job I applied for to ensure that it best fit with the job description. It’s okay to get frustrated, just don’t stop grinding! It will pay off!
- Work your contacts, but know that not everyone is helpful. I sent a ton of emails to people I used to work with/for as well as colleagues of my family and friends. Many people would claim to “keep their eye out for an opening” yet I never heard anything else from them. Yes, it was a good opportunity to market myself, but by no measure, could I solely rely on these contacts to find a job. Also, I applied for my job online, not knowing one single person at the university, but I was still hired. You don’t always have to have a personal contact at a company for your resume to stand out.
- Don’t only rely on job boards. I’m talking websites like Indeed, Monster and Career Builder. Yes, they can be helpful because all types of job postings are in one place. However, they can be overwhelming. Sometimes they have really good postings and sometimes they have sketchy postings. I found a lot more luck visiting actual company websites and applying there. That is how I found the application for my current job. It takes a little more work and some extra steps, but it’s worth it to have a better selection.
- Believe in yourself. Even when you’re getting all these rejection emails or not getting a response from companies, know that you are valuable and a company would be lucky to have you! I knew that I would be a good employee and despite not being hired, I remained confident and kept my standards high. I knew that there was a certain amount of money that I wanted to make, and a certain field I wanted to be in. I stayed focused on those criteria, and, thankfully, the job that I have now offers me the things that I wanted and more!
I hope that my stories and these tips have been helpful! What have you found works for you? Let me know what you think in the comments!