Over dinner a few weeks ago, I listened to a group of my closest friends lamenting the economic crisis and the death grip it held on their efforts to find jobs. One friend pointed out that I was unusually calm, despite the fact that I had hardly started my job search and that those companies to which I had applied had turned me down. She suggested that I, with my optimistic temperament, write an article for findingDulcinea about how frenzied graduates should relax and try to have fun looking for jobs in today’s economy.
Weeks later, after a particularly painful evening of scouring idealist.org only to conclude that I am probably not skilled enough to even manage a hot dog cart, I came into work discouraged and exhausted. The Editor-in-Chief asked how things were going, and I confessed that the job search was taking its toll. When she suggested the same thing my friend had—that I write a graduates’ job search guide—I was stunned. Who am I to tell my peers how to find a job? I haven’t even found one for myself yet! I’ve lost all focus of what I want to do after graduation and have experienced only failure in my search efforts so far. But she insisted that I AM an expert, because I am in the thick of it, or as she put, “in the forest” (implying that the job search is a dark, wooded area … fair enough).
Writing this three-part series (see links at bottom of article) has turned out to be the most useful thing I have done to advance my personal career search, far exceeding the seminars I’ve attended and the hours I’ve wasted aimlessly browsing my university’s job postings online. I learned about job search Web sites that I never knew existed, many through findingDulcinea’s existing career Web guides. I took a personality quiz (to ensure that the Web site’s evaluation tools were reliable, obviously) and found that I might be well-suited to a career in advertising, teaching or consulting. I hit the jackpot when I found a series of videos hosted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers; every tip was a new gem that I have since incorporated into my search tactics.
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m pretty biased when it comes to going overseas. In my opinion, any experience in a foreign culture will make you a more interesting, well-rounded, thoughtful, understanding, independent and expressive person. In my research for the third part of my series, “Work, Intern or Volunteer Abroad,” I learned about dozens of language immersion opportunities in other countries and have since decided to move to Costa Rica for several weeks this summer to learn Spanish.
So thank you, findingDulcinea, for helping me with my own job search. Hopefully the features I wrote will help other recent graduates get on the right track or, at the very least, will inspire them to form a more positive attitude about the process.
Erin wrote this blog post in May 2009. A year later, she is working as a research assistant in the
Genetics Department at Children's Hospital Boston. She's taking classes
at night to prepare for a program in physical therapy, an area that she
has gotten interested in since starting her job at the hospital.
As for the job search itself, it wasn't an easy, but Erin offers some tips that worked best for her:
1. Don't underestimate paper: Sure, maybe its more convenient to apply for jobs via your iPhone, but sending an application in the mail can make a huge impression. I would suggest still sending an electronic version as many employers require it, but those applications often get routed to a large pool of applicants, which I call the nebula, because once your name goes in, it often disappears forever. Take a few minutes to look up the name of an HR representative, and send a hard copy of your application directly to that person. Oftentimes, the rep will get back in touch with you or will forward your information on to the appropriate hiring manager.
2. Talk: Introduce yourself to someone who works at a company you are interested in and ask them if they would be willing to have an informational interview with you. This is a chance for you to ask questions about the person's day-to-day job, the company atmosphere, how awesome the holiday party is, etc. without the pressure or a formal suit-and-tie, sweaty-hands interview. I asked several people, from study abroad counselors to marketing associates to an English professor, out for coffee to learn more about what they do and not once did I get rejected. People love talking about themselves and this can be a great way to get your foot in the door.
3. Network: Yes it is awkward, but it can be fun and turn out some great connections if you step outside of your box. I showed up to an alumni networking event in Boston, and tried to balance eating mammoth-sized pieces of sushi with presenting myself as a mature, appealing job candidate (the oversized finger foods were intentional in my opinion...a challenge set forth by the NYU event planners who stood by and chuckled as we introduced ourselves to CEO's with half-eaten chicken skewers in our hands). Somehow, I walked out with 10 business cards and a job offer at a consulting firm in downtown Boston.
4. Stay positive: It will happen. As long as you are trying, you will get a job.
Read the three articles in Erin's series: