I recently spoke to one of our interns and she expressed her fear of not landing a job before graduation, noticing that other people are getting jobs, and of course – the fear that she’ll never find something. I wanted to share the advice I gave her, in hopes it might help calm your nerves.
The first thing I said to this student was to calm down and take deep breaths. Like we’ve discussed on our site before, everyone is too busy for their own good these days and we all have FOMO (fear of missing out). We’re all so busy looking at what the people around us are doing and trying to meet expectations that don’t even exist. If we could all calm down and embrace the unbusy life for a moment, we’d all be so much better off. I know she heard me on this because she just tweeted #DeepBreaths to me. This made me smile.
The second thing we spoke about was how every industry is different. If she was interested in pursuing a job with a Fortune 500 company like the Ford Motor Company or Target, I would push her to get a job offer before graduation. However, she wants to work in communications; public relations, digital marketing, or an advertising agency. Normally, these companies don’t give out job offers ahead of time. When they hire it’s for their internship programs, entry-level training programs, or for specific entry-level positions. Her expectations should be in line with her industry. Based on my experiences with recent grads who’ve all landed excellent jobs in the communications industry, I recommended that she give herself 3-5 months after graduation to land the right job. I told her that if she graduates in December, employment by March 15th or April 1st would be fantastic. She should give herself a break.
Next, we discussed her frustration with sending out job applications for specific entry-level jobs at the companies that interest her and not hearing anything back. There are two issues here. One, she doesn’t live in the city where she wants to work. Could she get around this? Sure! She included a very clear statement in her cover letter stating that she would relocate. But I did tell her that employers will hesitate here. She’s going to have to build really strong relationships with the companies of interest so they trust she’s actually willing to relocate and not just saying that. Two, she hasn’t graduated yet so she isn’t technically available to work even if a company did want to hire her. The majority of companies in the communications space want to fill positions immediately. They don’t want to wait for someone to graduate.
Because this student plans on relocating to a big city for her first job, we talked about the importance of applying for training programs. She’s already applied for a few and after our conversation, she’s going to research more. I suggested that she focus on 8-10 training programs at communications companies. These companies will WANT a recent grad and there will be a likely chance of getting hired after the program. These programs are usually rotational programs that give recent grads an opportunity to work on several different parts of the business.
Finally, I told her to relax. I’m the worst at relaxing so I know it’s not easy. But the truth is, once she gets a job, she will work forever. She won’t get an indefinite break (at least most people don’t) and she won’t get to go back to college and do undergrad all over again. I told her to enjoy her city, enjoy her friends and her family, because college is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you don’t get it back ☺
For more advice on how to be successful at your first, second, or third job after college, read my book Welcome to the Real World. Don’t forget to watch our Youtube Video on how to land a job after graduation HERE.
Pictures by Anna McNaught.