Monthly Archives: September 2011

Who You Know

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and one of the questions on the forms asked what my occupation was. I ended up putting student down despite the fact that I am not because I could not bring myself to write ‘unemployed’. When the doctor called me back and we started talking she asked if I had graduated and I laughingly explained my actions. She immediately went into a long discussion about how there are currently no jobs out there for college grads and how her daughter is a college senior this year and she is already worried about her for next year.

We started talking about how, for the most part, its not what you know or how many internships you held in college, it is all about who you know. Now, its not like Steve Jobs is my uncle or something. I have not been hiding some ridiculously fantastic connection away in the closet. I do have to admit though that up to this point I have been too proud to ask the people in my life (the ones with actual jobs) if they knew anyone that might be able to help.

The thing is, that I totally believe the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. And that works just fine for my friends. Problem is that I have not been ok with applying that mentality to myself. For some mixed up, psychotic reason I have felt that it doesn’t count for me if I don’t do it on my own. I tend to expect much more out of myself than I do others, which is normally fine, but in this case it could be hurting me greatly.

So I have decided that it’s time to become a little bit more humble and admit that I COULD USE A LITTLE HELP and that admitting so does not make me any less of a person or any less qualified of a candidate. Maybe in some twisted way it’s actually a lesson that makes me a better candidate because I have realized that sometimes in order to accomplish a goal you do need other people to help you, you can’t do everything on your own, and that is perfectly ok. There is nothing wrong with not being a super person.

With this in mind I have started talking to a couple people I know, just ordinary people, and I am going to keep talking to people. Admitting to them that hey, this was harder than I thought, I am open to any advice or help you have. And who knows, maybe they have a friend who has a friend that knows that one special person that is going to take a chance on a girl like me. A girl that learned it was ok to ask for help.

42 Days in

I have gotten a good amount of feedback from my last batch of applications, some turned out to be cheesy but a couple have been very promising. I got a call this morning to set up the third and final interview with a company BusinessWeek ranked in the top five best companies to start a career with. I’m really excited about that and am still waiting to hear back from an interview I went on last week that went very well. I read an article this morning that said the average job search for recent grads is eight months. After reading this I felt a little better because while I don’t have a job yet, I feel I am ahead of the curve and that I will have a job way before I hit the eight month mark.

In the mean time I am going to keep doing what I do best; submitting applications, searching for new opportunities, and knocking employers socks off in interviews.

Persistence, Patience, and Positivity

I have to start this by saying when I started this job search I was under the impression that I would have found and started a good job within a couple of weeks. That happy little bubbled was quickly popped. When I think about it now I realize that my expectations were unrealistic, especially considering the current job market. I must admit that while I do realize that it takes more than a few weeks (its been four now for me) at times I have found it extremely discouraging.

This past weekend I found myself pretty depressed. I had sent in about thirty resumes that week and had had very little feedback by the time 5pm Friday rolled around. I was beginning to spiral downward in a self pity party, thinking maybe I would never find a job, maybe I wasn’t as smart and skilled as I thought I was. I am ashamed to admit that this pity party lasted the better part of the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, with the support of my family, I decided I was done being a downer. Being sorry for myself would not help my situation in any shape or form and honestly I was disgusted with myself because I do think very highly of myself and believe I can be successful in whatever I apply myself to.

Monday morning began with a new determination, persistence, and attitude. This is a marathon, not a sprint (which is actually better for me because I have short legs). I had an interview on Monday which I think went very well. I really liked the company and felt that I would fit well with them on an interpersonal level and that the position, Assistant Media Buyer, would be a great place for me to start my career. The only bummer was that they said they wouldn’t be able to get back to me for two weeks. My new attitude has me spinning this in a positive light: the wait gives me the chance to find another job so that when they offer me the position (because of course they will, I’m pretty awesome) I will be able to choose which job is better for me. And I have another interview tomorrow that seems promising.

As stressful and emotionally taxing as this job hunt has been so far, the lessons to be learned have not been lost on me. I am fortunate to say that in the past disappointment has been mostly a stranger to me. I have always been a smart, academically advanced student, only once had I applied to a job/internship that I did not receive, I have always been proud of my accomplishments and willingly shared them. This job hunt has taught me lessons in modesty, humility, and patience. While many of my friends have already begun exciting jobs or their first classes as grad students I have had to admit that no, I’m not working yet. I’m still looking. It has been an ego check but it has also made me realize how much I want a job where I can learn, grow, gain experience, and begin a lasting career with a stable company.

I am going to find a job that will be the perfect job for me at this point in my life. It will be perfect because it will set me on the road to reach my career goals. I might not find a job this week or next but I will find one. I will find one because I am persistent. I am patience. I will remain positive. And because I want it, I want it badly.

“Experience”

As a recent grad trying to land my first real job I have found ‘experience’ (or lack thereof in my case) the most difficult obstacle to overcome in my job search. Yes, I had three internships throughout college in marketing and sales positions and yes I have worked as a sales associate for Nordstrom on and off for the past four years whenever my class schedule permitted a job. However, I do lack professional experience. Not because I don’t want it, not because I am not qualified, and not because I haven’t tried but for the simple reason that most companies would rather hire someone who already has the experience. And with the job market and the economy the way it is, there is usually an applicant that has more experience.

I interviewed for a position as a Marketing Specialist this past week where that was just the case. I knew I could excel at that job. They wanted to begin using social media and had no idea how to go about it. Social media is, as I believe, the one key advantage younger job seekers have over the more experienced applicants. We have grownup with social media and know how to use it to reach wide and targeted audiences. Still, as my interviewer pointed out, I was going for my first job out of college, I lacked experience.

The funny thing is that I do have experience researching consumers and target audiences, finding out their demographics, their interests, what media sources they turn to in their free time. I do have experience formatting surveys, gathering data, analyzing data and using it to create effect campaigns. I do have experience creating powerpoint presentations for clients. I do have experience with account management, managing distribution teams, networking, cold calling, composing competitor analysis charts, and annual marketing reports. Problem is, that I gained all of this experience in the classroom or at an internship and thus employers see it as lacking real-world applicability.

I disagree. On each of those school projects I got a grade, feedback from professors who had had, or still had, careers in marketing. They critiqued my work, showed me where I could improve and areas I had succeeded in. I embraced their feedback and applied it to the next project, and took those skills to my internships where I could apply them in real life situations. From each class project, from each internship  I grew. I got better. I learned from my experiences. True, I still have unlimited amounts of learning ahead of me and I will for the rest of my career because the marketplace we work in is constantly evolving. But I have a strong foundation to build on. I am confident in my skills and abilities. I am confident in myself.

So here I am, continuing the search, pushing forward. I can’t lie, it isn’t always easy. At times I find myself discouraged and have to remind myself that I am talented, I am motivated, I am determined, and that I will get a job that will allow me to utilize my current skills, enhance and sharpen them, and gain invaluable experience.¬†Yesterday I submitted eight more applications, today six. I am continuing to push forward, to do my research, to stay positive. I want a rewarding career that I can be proud of and that I want to work hard in.

As Theodore Roosevelt said: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”

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