Getting a job after graduation was on the forefront of my brain as soon as my final semesters of college started. It’s amazing how real the job hunt and prospects gets as soon as you enter your senior year (for some majors, maybe even before then).
I went through various phases during this time, but most days went a little like this: open a dozen job postings, convince myself that I was qualified, keep all tabs loaded/ready to go, close every tab, take a nap. Sleep. Wake. Repeat.
Not very productive and definitely not the means by which I got the job I have now!
But last week, I started working as a digital marketing coordinator, doing exactly what I’d hoped to be doing right after graduation. Finding a job right away post grad is becoming more and more difficult and competitive. I know too many qualified grads who have everything it takes, but either haven’t found the right job or have opted to settle for something they don’t love, but will pay the bills.
It’s hard. Really hard. And depending on how long you’ve been searching or your situation, it can become very discouraging after a while. So today I’m sharing five things I did throughout my time in college and closer to the job search period that really helped me get the position I have today.
01. Network, network, network….network.
A large percentage of people working now hear about openings way before they are posted or made public. I know this for sure, because I’m one of them. Who you know can be largely beneficial when looking for a job, especially in competitive fields.
While I was in school, I would attend as many networking events as I possibly could. I got an interview for what ended up being my second internship thanks to a change meeting at a networking event. I got an interview for my new job because I was bold enough to introduce myself to someone and exchange information. Don’t ever underestimate the power of sharing what you do and who you are with someone, even if it doesn’t seem like they can help you reach your professional goals.
Everyone knows someone.
02. I took time to understand what I really wanted to do.
Getting specific about what you really want to do will be so beneficial when deciding events to attend, the types of experience you should be gaining and jobs/internships you want go for. When I first started off in PR, what I wanted to do was pretty general: “I’d like to do PR…” was pretty much all I had.
After my first internship, I had a more clear idea of what that meant. I knew I wasn’t in love with media relations or event planning. By my third internship, I knew I had a real knack and appreciation for content development, social media strategy, and brand strategy. When I came time to apply and interview, I knew to ask questions like “how involved is this position with social media and digital marketing strategies” and mainly applied for jobs that fit that scope of work.
Knowing what you want will also make answering questions (and starting real conversations, which is more important) a cinch during interviews. If you know you want to do and have a background events but are applying for an accounting position, your responses may be a little generic and stale.
03. I took time to study my mentors and industry influencers.
There is a tremendous amount of free knowledge out there. Finding a mentor who is willing to answer your questions and serve as an example along the way is so important. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this period without being able to call on someone who had been there and done that.
But even if you aren’t able to find a mentor, finding out about what influencers and changemakers you look up to have done and are doing is easier than ever. If they have a book, read it. If they have a blog, subscribe. If they’re on social, make a genuine connection with them.
Make a list of trends that your favorite people have in common, and then plot intersections between what they did and what you’re doing or could do to generate success.
04. I created a good digital fingerprint
I knew this would be crucial for me, because I did want to work in the digital space. But regardless of what you’re interested in pursuing a good digital fingerprint is a good thing to have. Let me explain what I mean by that:
Everything is online. As soon as your resume hits someone’s desk, they are going to look you up online. Rather than have a bunch of junk come up, I worked hard to make sure things of value and sustenance would come up instead (like this blog, for example).
Creating a good digital print doesn’t have to be difficult. Read: you don’t have to start a blog or hide yourself to make it happen. Just be sure to inject value into any space you occupy. So if you’re on Twitter, share interesting finds about your field as you find them, write a bio that really tells who you are and what you want to do.
It’s not about censoring yourself, it’s about being smart, strategic and taking advantage of the opportunity.
05. I consistently worked hard at what I wanted to do
Nothing worth having comes easily. In the last 4-5 years I have interned, built a blog and brand, networked, and studied.
When I first started college, I read Intern Queen’s book and how she worked over 10 internships during her undergrad years. I decided that I wanted to follow in her footsteps, and set my sights at ten internships. I didn’t take me long to realize that this was a completely arbitrary and unrealistic goal, and that I should just focus on getting really quality experience that would take me where I wanted to go. So, I did that instead.
Spend time each week working towards something you want to accomplish. Be consistent in how you’re approaching each goal, and set up a disciplined strategy to help you map out your route to success.
Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them! I know this post was a bit longer than most, so if you made it to the end, thanks so much for reading. I hope you found it helpful!!