Graduating college and leaving the comfort of a small, insulated bubble of a town puts you in this interesting predicament. You’re straddling the edges of two worlds and the people you felt closest to are off in different pockets of the country.
Two years later, I haven’t fully adjusted to being hundreds and thousands of miles away from my best friends. You Gchat. Text. Tweet. Email. Group text. Group chat. Snapchat (this is where I draw the line). You feel so uber connected and you know exactly what is going on in their lives but nothing compares to unexpected two-hour lunches or knowing exactly what happy hour you will be attending every, single night of the week. Nothing beats walking out the front door of your shady, seedy apartment building and bumping into familiar faces while walking to class.
No one tells you that graduation is lonely or that you’ll become a pro at figuring out the time in Colorado or California or Hawaii. (Time zones…fucking time zones.) Never mind if you have friends in serious relationships that need to schedule dinner dates and work around business trips. Planning six weeks in advance to see your friends blows. You become a slave to your Google calendar with its colored labels; you sign up for credit card that gives you frequent flier miles. No matter how connected you may be or how often you speak, there is the nagging truth that you will be able to count on your hands the number of times you will all be in one place again.
Once you start adding marriages and kids into the mix, the reality is every day has turned into major football weekends to once a year to only significant life occasions.
So how do you make this a positive thing? You sit back and look at the afternoons spent outside on your favorite bar’s back porch and and the nights spent in random living rooms watching bad television. These are the people who have made a monumental impact on the greatest four years of your life. Even if it you don’t seem them NEARLY as much as you’d like, you know they’ll always be a part of your life. Regardless of zip code, time zone, marital status or permanent address.
I don’t think I’m alone in saying one of the most frustrating moments/processes of senior year of college is applying for a job. What frustrated me the most was the lack of information provided by the people who were supposed to be helping me along in this process. The days have changed from when our advisors and parents highlighted openings in the classifieds and faxed their resumes places. Hopefully some of the things I learned while applying for jobs (twice since graduating in May 2011) will make your search a little less stressful. Happy hunting!
Indeed is one of the best job search websites because it compiles listings from the entire internet. You’ve probably already used it. But what makes it special is the ability to set up job alerts when new relevant postings are made. If you are searching for an entry-level public relations job, set up an alert for “account coordinator” (“assistant account executive” and “junior account executive” work too). You will now have the latest postings emailed to you daily or weekly. They do the heavy searching for you.
Facebook is for stalking ex-friends, Twitter is for stalking celebrities and LinkedIn is for stalking companies. With the follow tab, you can follow any relevant companies (and their job postings) and learn more about them. I would recommend going a step further – search within the companies for an employee who went to Penn State (or your respective school) and follow them. Leave a brief message in the message box and follow up with an email. Real life connections trump deep, dark resume abysses every day of the week.
Size doesn’t always matter. There are an unbelievable amount of PR agencies within big cities. Just like picking a college, it is important to decide whether you want to work for a large or small firm. Each have their pros and cons but the small agencies (known as “boutique” firms) are a great starting point for a recent grad. I started at a small firm and can attest that you are given an amazing amount of responsibility. I was able to get clients placed in huge outlets (The Washington Post and Real Simple, for example), write social media proposals and sit in on brainstorm sessions with our CEO. Working at a big firm, you don’t get that kind of experience until your third year – if even then. You will rarely even see your CEO. You can’t beat the hands-on experience of a small firm. The things you learn in just a few months will make you more competitive down the line when looking for a new job. FYI: Craiglist is a great resource for finding openings at boutique agencies.
And with that, I segway into: Consider taking an internship. There is no rule that says you need to have a full-time job immediately after moving that tassel. Sometimes you just need more experience. Companies know that. I took an offer for an internship after graduation, which lead to a full time offer. After six months, I had learned enough to move on to a different job (at another small agency) that better-suited my personality. The additional money helped too. Internships help you narrow down what you do, and more importantly, don’t like about the real world. You have three or six months to decide if this place is right for you. Think about is a long-term interview with the opportunity to boost your resume and portfolio, while making connections and gaining valuable hands-on responsibility.
If your parents freak out at this option, refer them to my blog. Less than a year out of college, I have already had an internship, a job offer and switched to a second job. With placements in top tier media outlets. Now exhale. You’ll be fine.
Job searching isn’t meant to be an easy process. I am not going to sugar coat that. You are going to have mini-breakdowns, you are going to cry and you are going to yell at your inbox for not having any messages but a stock email that says “thank you for submitting your resume.” Just remember you WILL find a job. It will not include wearing a uniform made of primary colors and asking if people would like fries with that.
And please, please, please dear friends who are communications majors: Stop comparing yourselves to the accounting and engineering kids who have had offers since Labor Day. This field does not work that way. You are not a failure by any means.