Here’s What No One Told Me About Working After College

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I’m a tad…peeved, shall we say.

I graduated in four years from a prestigious and accredited university. I was involved in leadership, I worked my internships and even studied abroad my sophomore year. Through it all, I kept my grades up and took home the laude (albeit the lowest one). With a degree in Advertising and a respectable resume in hand I took my first step toward employment and the rest of my career…and fell flat on my face. I graduated at the end of April and 100 job applications later (not an exaggeration) I’m still jobless.

We’ve all been there. Some of us (shout out to my recent college graduates) are still there. So permit me to put into words how you’re feeling. Permit me to pen down a few thoughts on what we wished someone had told us about the post-college job search.

First of all, I wish someone would’ve slapped me grabbed me by the shoulders and impressed upon me the fact that a college degree isn’t some golden ticket into the Willy Wonka factory of employment. Because it’s not. Turns out one needs about 5 years worth of relative work experience in order to apply for an entry level position. I’m being facetious and yet I admit I completely underestimated the amount of  experience and hard skills these entry level positions would ask for.

Leading me into the holy grail of Wonka’s factory of employment: internships. Ah, internships, allowing companies to hire underpaid students and give them assignments suited for a full-time employee. Whatever you feel about them  it’s an undeniable fact that the more you have the more attractive you look because they equate to experience. And no two internships are created equal, so choose something that’ll make your resume pop. Do yourself a favor and research all the major corporations within a 20-mile radius and apply to them all. In fact, treat getting an internship like I’ve treated getting a job: drop a hundred or so applications. It can’t hurt.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. As I sat in class that phrase always made me laugh as I assured myself that my experience and hard work would carry me to interview after interview. Who’s laughing now? Not me that’s for sure. Learn how to network. Personally, networking as a concept makes me extremely uncomfortable. I view it as using people to an end and I wasn’t raised that way. So I put it off until a few months before I graduated. My loss. Most hiring managers hire based on some type of referral anyway so by refusing to network you’re only cheating yourself. Start small; LinkedIn freaks me out but it’s simple enough that even a networking hater like myself can operate it. Make an account. Then add your friends. Then your professors. Then your work colleagues. Then your work bosses and before you know it you’ll end up connected to Winston Churchill’s great-grandson.

Resume Resume Cover Letter. It’s the Duck Duck Goose of your adult life. Your resume sucks. I don’t say that to be offensive, I say it because that’s what an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is thinking. These days robots sift through the bulk of job applications before humans get to them which is unfortunate as odds are they’re passing over high qualified individuals such as yourself, of course. If your resume and cover letter aren’t in some way tailored to the position itself, then you’re playing with fire. And its name is unemployment…..okay, that was really cheesy. Revamp your resume. If you’re a creative consider changing the layout. Maybe add a profile picture to the page. It doesn’t matter so long as you Resume Resume correctly so someone will actually look at your Cover Letter.

Finally, no one will tell you about the despair you feel when you send in resume after resume and go on interview after interview and then…nothing. Speaking personally, no one told me how I’d feel like such a failure because I couldn’t instantly get work after college. No one told me I’d have to put on a brave face for Mumsie and Pop but when they’re not looking feel like I’m a disappointment to them. No one told me I’d have to fight back tears after the hundredth “thank you for your application but we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate” email. No one told me of the hopelessness I’d feel after nearly a month of unemployment. No one warned me of the temptation to blame everything else but the mirror for my current situation.

No, no one told me the post-college job search would be like this. But perhaps it’s not all doom, gloom and Mordor. I refuse to give up. Even though I didn’t know it’d be this hard it doesn’t matter. I won’t bow my head. And neither will you. Let’s go. Because one day we’ll both see Gandalf  riding to our side. Translation:Keep going, it won’t always suck so much.

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