Meet Sara. You probably know many others like her. She just graduated from college, and she is facing her first real job search. Not only is she discovering the job market is flooded with thousands of other entry-level candidates, but she is also realizing that college did not really prepare her for answering that all important job search question: “What are you looking for?”
As Sara continues through her job search, I’ve asked her if she would share some of her experience from time to time. As one of our “noddlers” at NoddlePlace.com, we encourage other grads like her to come join us and band together. After all, “two are better than one…[and] a cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
This past May, I received my BAs in English and Communications. All of senior year, my intention was to graduate and settle into a nice, entry-level, marketing or public relations position with a local company and start real life.
I graduated cum laude with a 3.7 GPA, a semester abroad, an internship, a portfolio, as well as some various club and volunteer activities, and I have yet to be called for an interview. My parents’ stress level is growing with each passing week, and they have begun to hint that graduate school may be my best option, despite the fact that, at 22 years old, I have no idea what I want to do with my life.
People have told me that I need to look at this “setback” as an opportunity to experience life before being sucked up into a corporate whirlwind of money, bills, and time-management. Apparently, this is my time to travel the world, meet new people, and discover myself; “live it up,” so to speak. And although that might sound fine and dandy for some people, I’m not too comfortable with such an unpredictable future.
So, for now, it’s me against the job market and who-knows-how-many other college graduates vying for the same position. Resumes and cover letters have been rewritten, revamped, and sent out with little to show for it. I have joined many of the job networking websites like LinkedIn and Noddleplace and scoured the Internet for job leads.
Nothing. Something isn’t working.
It took me a long time and a lot of rejection before I realized why I’m not making any progress: I have no idea what I want to do.
People ask me what kind of job I’m looking for, and I stare blankly at them and stutter. Maybe I do need to go “live it up” in Europe and drink away all of my cares and responsibilities overseas, awaiting the glorious epiphany that will determine the rest of my life.
Or maybe I can make some progress in my job search, by looking for more real-world experience.
Since graduating, I have arranged for enough internships to carry me through the end of the year. If I’m not going to get hired, then I’m going to do everything I can to get experience, which includes working for free, in the industries I’m interested in. These internships are helping me build a network and get me the experience that will eventually give me a leg up on my competition. I’m still applying for jobs daily, but for now, I’m going to take it one day at a time until I figure out what I am supposed to do.
So who am I anyway? Why do I think my advice is so valuable?
My name is Stephen Van Vreede. My company is called No Stone Unturned, and I have spent 15 years on both sides of the corporate hiring experience.
The short story is that I have an MBA in Marketing from Villanova University and a dual B.S. degree in Finance & Logistics from the University of Maryland. I am a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) and a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC). As I mentioned, I paid my dues in the corporate world eventually running a large-scale call center for a major truck rental company, and I have spent the past 7 years with No Stone Unturned, assisting job seekers in achieving their goals.
In February 2009, I launched a new group job hunting networking site: NoddlePlace.com. It is absolutely FREE to join, and you have access to everything on the site. Come check it out at NoddlePlace. You can also follow me on Twitter.