Walking across the quad on Quinnipiac University’s main campus, I always hear interesting stories. Most of them are comical as they usually describe the events of the previous weekend. “She was running around the student center with her skirt hiked up to Jesus asking the empty classrooms if anyone knew where Kim was. Girl was a mess.” I laughed all the way to my car after that one. But one story I heard the other day made me uneasy and walk a bit faster towards the parking lot. A boy walking in front of me was on the phone describing how a recent job interview was postponed at the last minute. Simple enough, so why did I react this way? He was calm, why wasn’t I? This senior, who I recognized but had never met, was well on his way towards finding a job. At this point I realized, Oh God, I am graduating in six months and I don’t have any interviews scheduled.
Being a senior in college is undoubtedly stressful as papers, tests and the final chance to bring up your GPA weigh on you. When I headed home for the holidays I had the dreaded “what are you going to do after you graduate?” questions from various family members and friends to dodge. After only about 12 hours at my grandparents’ house during Thanksgiving break, I was asked about my plans for after graduation three different times by various family members. And there were many days and family friends to go. I learned how to answer the question as efficiently and quickly as possible. “But I don’t want to talk about graduation! I’m in denial!” is a great way to eliminate further questioning; although I recommend only using that with close relatives. The great thing about these questions is that you might end up talking to someone who has a friend in the industry you are looking to break into. The best case scenario is that they are able to provide contact information. The worst case scenario is that they themselves cannot provide any guidance but may find a third party who has insight for you.
I talked to several seniors at Quinnipiac University about their process in the job search. An overwhelming number of people I talked with had previously interned in the field that they are interested in working after graduation. Many of my peers got their internships through family connections and remain in contact with their employers in hopes of continuing with that company full time. But is this realistic?
Jayme Tobia, a business management major, has had three internships with various companies in order to gain experience and pursue her dream of being a corporate event planner in New York City. Her most recent internship was with Marie Claire magazine where she worked in the sales and advertising department. When I asked her what she has done thus far to ensure that she will have a job post-graduation she responded, “I have been emailing my employers from Marie Claire to ask them if I would be a good fit at Marie Claire or other magazines.” While her contacts at Marie Claire have not responded to her inquiries, Jayme has heard from the owner of the clothing company, Kings of Cole, who employed Jayme for two summers. “My boss has been a huge help. She put me in contact with her step father who is in the catering business and knows many people who own their own venues in New York City. I have been emailing with him, and I am hopefully going to meet with him in person soon.” Along with providing Jayme her step father’s information, her boss has also been giving Jayme advice on things such as how to address interviewers and how to construct the proper thank you letter. As instructed by previous employers, Jayme learned that it is important to research the company before going on an interview “and ask about the position you are interested in.” Throughout my interviewing process, I learned that it is essential to ask questions while in the interview because it shows that you are curious and interested in the company. When I asked Jayme if she thought her previous employment and the advice she has been given might speed up her job search she responded, “This seems to be a long process. Not many companies are hiring entry level workers; most are hiring interns or people with years of experience.” Many of the seniors that spent the summer before their final year working at an internship are hoping that keeping in touch with their previous employers will result in a job offer after college.
Brianna, a senior who is also hoping that her connections with previous employers will help her get a job, will apply to any jobs she is interested in should she be unsuccessful. Brianna is going to apply to any PR job if she can’t find a job with CBS radio. She interned with CBS radio in CT over the summer. “My boss has given me advice about working my way into Boston which is a bigger market.”
I too am finding myself in this position. Recently, I was connected with a woman who works at Random House in NYC. She is a family friend who recently learned that I was interested in entering the publishing world. My grandfather (one of the many who inquired about my post-graduation plans) was in contact with his niece on his birthday and, without knowing her connection to Random House, updated her on my college status and hopes for the future. I have scheduled a time to meet with her friend for next week where we will discuss how I should go about finding a job or an internship after graduation. With advice from my contacts in the publishing industry, I hope to apply for jobs that will result in a successful opportunity. Relying on contacts is a very important part of entering any sector. So, instead of evading family gatherings and parties for fear of the dreaded “after college discussion,” remember that those people might be the ones who can help you start to network!
For more job-search adventures, check out Deborah’s interview trauma!