Post Grad Blues
This post is for all you hard working College graduates (and soon to be graduates) out there hustlin' for job interviews and doing what you can to make a buck, and you know, be a contributing member of society.
CONGRATS, YOU GRADUATED!
Pop the damn bubbly! Maybe you literally just graduated or you're like me and it's been a hot second since that relief setting and memorable day.
Regardless, you are ready to apply your knowledge, contribute to the economy, build your skillset, and make some fricken money! You got this whole entry level career thing in the bag, right? Educated, qualified, and worthy of a decent paying job in a highly sought after city.
Then you actually step out into the world, send in some applications, sit in some interviews, and realize you were sorely mistaken.
This post is called Post Grad Blues because in my personal experience, that's exactly how life after graduation had me feelin' - blue. My personal experiences were also backed up by those experiences of my friends. And I realized, I should blog about this so others can read along and vent with me while also giving advice and a PSA to those soon to be graduates.
I truly had no idea how difficult the career hunt would be. I can't really say, "Well, no one warned me!" because I believe every college professor gave the whole "post grad is a rude awakening rant". But I, a know it all & cocky undergrad, didn't want to listen to any of that nonsense because I knew I had a great interview personality and the serious drive to be successful.
I recently gave one of my favorite professors a call after one year of job hunting and interviewing to,
- a) tell her she was right
- b) vent out all the frustrations
- c) ask for some serious and much needed advice & words of wisdom
Her response was everything I needed.
This period totally sucks. You aren't alone. You need to make some serious decisions about career choice, where to live, and priorities. You're amazing and have so much to offer the world and soon enough someone will see that.
And she was right. After one year and one month of career hunting turned soul searching, I signed an offer letter with my perfect entry level job as a social media & community manager in San Luis Obispo.
It all worked out in the end, but the path was rocky my friends.
I wasn't able to start applying to jobs before or right after graduation due to a major surgery I had to have over the summer, so I felt like I was at a disadvantage before I had even started.
After healing I actively started considering my career options in October of 2017. As a communication major, I was all over the place! My options felt endless. Dreaming about my blog actually taking off and allowing me to make money, to applying as a nanny to high profile families, to submitting my resume to big companies that were fashion, marketing, or beauty related.
I spent every evening on my computer searching through Indeed.com, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and even Craigslist for open positions to apply to. The task of updating my cover letter and resume to cater to each company I was applying to became repetitive and exhausting. Especially when the company asked you to:
- make a profile online
- upload your resume
- upload your cover letter
- THEN, fill in an entire section about your previous employers & references that your resume already states
- only to receive a generic automated email after the hour long ordeal saying "Thanks for applying to ____, we appreciate your interest and will get back to you shortly!"
- And you knew as soon as you read that email, you sure as hell were never hearing back from anyone.
I had my first big girl interview in November with Paul Mitchell headquarters. The only reason why I even got that interview was because I knew someone who knew someone.
That's a big point I want to make. Your qualifications and resume almost don't even matter anymore. It's all in who you know.
It went well, they just ended up hiring from within... go figure.
From there I realized I didn't actually want to work for anyone, *lightbulb*, and I was going to start my own online fashion boutique. I purchased my fictitious name statement, got a tax ID, a business credit card, business cards, the whole shebang and drove my ass to downtown LA with my ever so supporting mother and all of my grad money savings.
I was way in over my head and realized I had no clue what I was doing and freaked the fuck out because $5,000 is a lot of money to a struggling college grad and I couldn't imagine blowing it on something I was just not prepared to do.
From there, I decided (after hearing that I didn't have enough experience drilled into my head) that I should apply for a job that I do have experience in and could make a lot of money, even though I wasn't passionate nor happy about the actual work itself.
High profile nannying.
I signed up with three reputable nanny agencies. One based out of NY and two in LA. I interviewed for a couple families that were interested in hiring me, but I wasn't too keen on becoming a 5 year old's maid. I was determined that the right family was out there for me where I wouldn't have to cook or clean and just get paid to hang out with the kiddos and travel. Believe me, this does exist as I know a few people doing it and have done my fair share of research.
I interviewed with the personal assistant and house manager of Gweneth Paltrow. The job sounded amazing. The pay was unbelievable. And the perks were everything and more. Would I have to totally be two tween aged kids bitch for a couple years? 100%. But at the price they were paying along with free rent.... I was fully ready to accept the bitch role.
But they weren't fully sold on me.... probably because they knew being a nanny was just not my passion.
Inbetween all of this, I am still submitting applications to random job postings only to receive "we only hire Los Angeles residents" or hearing nothing at all.
Venting with my friends, I quickly found out I was not alone. Most people were truly struggling with getting to the interview part of the hiring process, let alone actually getting hired. Those who did receive offers, were completely low balled to the point where they had to turn it down because it was just unreasonable.
Let's face it, these companies/businesses realize how high in demand entry level marketing type jobs are and every college graduate with a business, communication, or marketing degree are all going after them. The competition is fierce and there are even people with Masters Degrees applying to these entry level jobs because of the lack of not just job, but career availability. These companies realize that and have the cream of the crop to choose from. On top of that, they offer low salary or hourly wages because they know someone out there will accept it due to the direness need for a foot in the door in today's society.
And the couple of friends that did make it into the corporate world making a decent amount were miserable. This did not provide any faith or positivity to my depressing mindset.
By March I realized I really needed a resume building job. That's when I started working for Presqu'ile Winery in Santa Maria. It was classy, interesting, and contributed customer service and sales skills to my resume. Plus, my thought process was, you never know what important person might walk through the door that I might be able to impress.
After a couple months there while nannying on the side, I applied for a local job. Tourism Coordinator for the Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce. It paid $18-$20/hour (depending on experience, so lets go with $18) and I had an internal connection. I figured if I couldn't get an hourly job doing social media and relations for the small town of Santa Maria when I had a direct connection, then I was doomed and no one would ever hire me.
I got down to the nitty gritty final 4 candidates in a sea of about 50. Again, thought it went well and I had it in the bag.
NOPE. I was doomed.
My dream entry level job, if there's ever such a thing, came about with a company I sorta had a foot in the door with already. Pacifica Hotels, a hotel management company in California recently purchased the Holiday Inn Express in San Luis Obispo and are remodeling it to become The Kinney SLO. They were hiring for a brand new position - Social Media and Community Manager.
One phone interview and two in-person interviews later I was offered the position, one year and one month since my initial graduation date. Salary, full time, and full benefits. I am beyond stoked and excited to see where this opportunity and company takes me. But man, the months leading up to this had its ups and downs for sure.
As I reflect on it all, I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I learned so much this past year about patience, humbleness, and determination. I believe I will appreciate and work harder than ever at this job after having gone through everything that I did. I believe if I was hired straight out of college my perception on job hunting would be completely different and my work may have reflected that of an ungrateful and entitled post graduate.
Now I know I am one of the small lucky few who get to do something they enjoy, with a reputable company, in a city they love. That is very rare my friends, and that realization and lesson may have never passed my mind if it weren't for the struggles I endured.
But never the less, it was a painful fucking year full of anxiety, stress, tears, maxed credit cards, and deep thoughts about the purpose of life and where mine was headed.
I happen to be very outgoing, personable, and I truly enjoy talking to people so interviewing is something I consider a strength of mine. I'm usually quick on my feet with my responses and always come prepared with knowledge about the company I'm applying for. It truly made me wonder, if someone whose strength is in interviews can't get hired how are those who aren't so strong in interviews doing?
Every person is different. We each have our own strengths and flaws. Just like some people are test takers rather than paper writers, I'm sure the same goes with interviews. My heart goes out to those who are struggling and feeling the wrath of rejection, questioning their skills and self worth.
My advice is this,
Stay true to yourself. Listen to your gut over your mind. Never question your capabilities. And have the confidence to know your truth: that you are a strong individual with unique qualities and skills to offer to any career position with any company.
I realize I was extremely fortunate enough to have my mom's financial and emotional support, allowing me to wait while applying for jobs that interested me. I understand that a lot of people are not so lucky and have to eat and provide a roof over their head and have to take what is readily available regardless of interest or if it pays as much as it should.
If that person is you, I commend you. You are doing what you have to do and defining what it means to be I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T! If you aren't happy where you are now, know it won't last forever. A determined individual can move mountains and certainly major career moves!
I'm sure a "First time Entry Level Full Time Job" post is soon to follow.
But as for now, I'm going to celebrate and continue to appreciate that all the bullshit was worth it in the end.