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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