So when I graduated in 2012, I walked across the stage, proudly received my degree and then walked right into unemployment. I always think back to the convocation address at our ceremony where the speaker (whose name I can’t recall) spoke about graduating from his Masters and thinking that he was going to score an amazing job right out of school; one that was worthy of his ‘master’ status of course. Low and behold, he walked off the stage and right back into his manager role at Swiss Chalet.
Those couple months after graduation were strange. I remember feeling the days drip by with no leads or responses to the plethora of applications I was sending out the door. There was this sinking feeling of guilt when I would go out with friends or spend a day on the beach because I felt as though I should be using every second to find a job. And not just a job but THE job. Over time, I realized that getting a job that wasn’t exactly what I would love to do wasn’t settling but rather just getting smart about the reality of my expenses and allowing myself to make money while I gained alternative experience in the field I eventually wanted to pursue.
So instead of stressing about finding THE job, I got a job in something that I had a lot of experience in – I worked for a company that facilitated team building and leadership events for kids as well as for a restaurant – both jobs were similar to ones I had had in the past but new enough that I could be challenged in some ways. I vowed to myself that these were gigs that I would be using to make connections and sustain an income with. These were NOT to be jobs that I allowed myself to get comfortable and complacent with. The deal was that I needed to push myself outside of those jobs in order to gain ample experience and a network in the field that I could see myself working in, which at the time, was the non-profit arts sector.
This was when the hustle began. I said yes to virtually everything -whether it was joining an events committee, volunteering for a family shelter, or attending networking events. I made my own business cards and would hunt for events where I knew I would find like-minded people who would make great contacts. I’d introduce myself and ask those folks about how they started in the field (most people like talking about themselves so this was a great way to start conversations). Not only would I learn about their path to where they were today, but I’d also make a connection with them, exchange contact info, and slyly add them to my networking list. And this was an actual excel spreadsheet that I was adding to each week of folks’ names and emails whom I thought could be a potential lead to a job or opportunity. I had to get pretty shameless in this process; walking up to strangers and putting on a little self-promotion isn’t always easy. But like anything, I got used to it.
After meeting someone, depending on how it went, I would wait a few days and follow up to say how nice it was to meet them and either A) ask them to go for coffee or B) ask them to please keep me in mind if any jobs come onto their radar that fit what I was seeking. I told myself that the worst they could say was ‘no’, and ‘no’ was something I could handle.
In about a year, because I had been so connected to one arts organization in particular and had demonstrated a ton of commitment and hard work within one of their events and several of their programs, I scored a full time job as an office administrator there. I was over the moon.
Looking back, the key was in two important things:
1. Making sure that I didn’t get distracted from my end goal. So not allowing myself to really settle into my ‘in the meantime’ jobs. I saw so many young people doing this and two or three years later, wondering what their master plan was to begin with.
And 2. Filling much of my spare time with the things that were going to meaningfully add to both my resume and my network of connections. Soooooo VOLUNTEER, GET OUT AND MEET PEOPLE, AND ASK ASK ASK ASK! I can’t say that enough.
Oh and if you’re still like ‘hey Britt, I need your help’, check out the coaching packages. I want to work with you to collaborate on a kick ass master plan for your life. AND if you JUST graduated this year…you get a nice 15% discount on coaching if you confirm before July 1st.
Keep up the good work you worthy and beautiful creatures!