A ‘job.’ If you knew me at all throughout this last year, it’s likely that this was the one word you heard incessantly pouring out of my mouth. If you were a teacher, a family member, a friend of a friend, or a stranger, I probably have pestered you about the same word too. The vast majority of my year was spent obsessing over this, and after probably 30 phone calls, a handful of coffee dates, and more emails sent than I’d ever want to think about, I somehow got this job, and it’s one that I’m still in a bit of disbelief that I landed. More resounding, however, than actually landing the job, was how much I learned along the way, both about the process and about myself.
- A genuine interest and passion will get you a very long way. It’s very entertaining to me to think that this past fall I was telling people that I was interested in project management, account management, or strategy, and that such people didn’t laugh. These positions couldn’t be more different, and I know that now, but the fact of the matter was that I was visibly curious and interested in what people had to say about their experiences. No one expects you to know everything from the outright, especially at the beginning of your career, but what is refreshing and respectable in the eyes of many professionals is a whole-hearted passion and excitement for the field you’re stepping into.
- Talk to people, even those who you don’t think can immediately help you. I’ve talked to qualitative researchers, those working in pharmaceuticals, insurance, and of course all sorts of advertisers, but without a doubt, some of the best insights I gained about life and my career were from those who weren’t, in fact, ‘in my field.’
- You can never be too prepared. There came a point that LinkedIn almost blocked me for doing too many searches on people before interviews and informational interviews. Someone even told me during an interview that I was the first candidate they spoke with that actually looked them up on LinkedIn (and they were shocked by this). Along the lines of the value of genuine interest and passion, putting forth the extra effort, although cover letters suck and research is time-consuming, does not go unnoticed.
And, about senior year and college ending: if it’s really, really sad, that means it was really, really good, and I’ve found this notion to be comforting during some of the biggest life changes. Of course, the transition from college to ‘real life’ will undoubtedly a bigger and more major change than anything I’ve experienced thus far, but as that cheesy (but true) saying states, the only constant in life is change. If we live in sadness about what no longer exists, we effectively neglect to embrace what’s ahead (and perhaps even better!). Life, as with the job search process, really is what you make of it. It’s grueling, it seems relentless at times, but with the proper attitude and a willingness to bust your a** for something you love, you may just wind up somewhere you never dreamed you could be.