Editor’s Note: We’re welcoming Emily back for a guest post! Check out all of her previous work on the blog from when she was a student.
Hello! This is Emily, a recent graduate of UMD. I finished school last May with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a minor in Art and Psychology. I am currently living in Minneapolis and, since graduating, have worked as a Field Canvasser fundraising to pass environmental policy measures and am currently working as a Visitor Assistant at the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Transitioning into the “workforce” has and continues to be an adventure, since I am still uncertain of my career path and can see myself doing a great many things. I do not have a particular “field” or one particular passion that I am set on pursuing exclusively. I have always enjoyed being a student because I could explore new knowledge and experiences, picking up new interests as I went along. Now that I have graduated, I continue to explore my multiple passions through different work experiences with more intention and renewed determination. For those of you who find yourself with a liberal arts degree without a clear “next step” or for undergrads who are about to start their “real world” journey, here’s what I’ve learned about this transition phase so far:
Perspective is everything, because how you view yourself in this stage of life is very important. It can be intimidating to apply for professional positions. There are moments of self-doubt when you contemplate the size, talent and experience of the candidate pool. Sometimes you feel like a kid that isn’t fooling anyone. But you have to believe that you have something unique to offer, because you do. If you consider yourself chronically under qualified for every position that you’re interested in, you might need to pursue more education and training or you might need to shift your perspective and really consider your strengths. You have to have confidence that you are an excellent candidate.
“Adventure” is a positive, exciting word, but real adventures are full of highs and lows. Moments of adventure can be as terrifying as being faced with a dragon. Moments of adventure can be as lonely as wandering through a desert or as uncertain as drifting through outer space. And that is what adventures are. The best stories are not full of characters who are living comfortably in their circumstances. The same goes for our lives. The best stories are about when we are met with unexpected challenges that seem too large to defeat and we overcome. When you are experiencing your own lows, know that you are experiencing the mountains and valleys of your adventure. With hard work and determination, there will be a time when you’ll be standing on the mountain enjoying the view.
Now I will leave you with some practical and specific tips from my job searching experience and blunders. Avoiding these pitfalls will save you some time and embarrassment and will help you stand out in your entry-level position:
- Format all your attachments as PDFs and send yourself an email before you send them to any potential employer. That way you can make sure the attachments open and are still formatted the way you’d like.
- Sometimes you should physically go to the places you are applying. Once I was asked in an interview, “Have you ever visited before?” and I had to say no. Physically go and ask companies if they are hiring. After a face-to-face conversation, my friend was invited to do an on-the-spot interview by a business owner and was offered the position I had applied for online.
- In cover letters people often explain how their skills and experience match the job qualifications listed. To set yourself apart, make sure to explain how the values of the company match your values. If you appreciate the “why” of what they are doing and specifically “how” they are doing it, you will be a more attractive candidate.
- Ask for three Letters of Recommendation before you graduate and ask for one before or immediately after you leave a position. Do this while their memory of your work is fresh in their minds. Going to past employers after several years of no longer being their employee and asking for a recommendation is far more awkward than sending them a message asking them if you can continue to use their letter. If you don’t want to ask for a full-fledged letter of recommendation, at least ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn.
- Say “thank you” to everyone that helps you along the way.
- In entry-level positions especially, find out if there is another position in the company that you might be interested in. Seek out opportunities where you can ask your coworkers about what they do, embrace opportunities to learn a new skill on the job and find ways to go above and beyond in your current position.
- Keep applying, ask for feedback and find a healthy life balance with Netflix.
Good luck with your adventure!
Of Possible Interest:
- Post-College Uncertainty? Oh Yeah, it’s Real.
- Ace the Job Search (Pinterest Board)
- How to Stay Motivated & Achieve Your Goals (List-making)
- How to Stay Motivated & Achieve Your Goals (Rewards)