job process

8 tips to help recent college graduates (and others, too) find a job

As we celebrate Labor Day, I feel fortunate to be one of those employed in a full-time job with health benefits and a retirement plan — something that many Americans don’t have.

I’m especially thinking of recent college graduates who had the aspirations that most graduates have of joining the work force in their chosen field. Many of those recent grads are working part-time and in jobs that aren’t related to their college education.

The New York Times says these college grads are part of Generation Limbo — “Generation Limbo: Waiting It Out.

The article starts with the story of Jennifer Kelly, who was a 2009 graduate of the University of Florida. Kelly represents the storyline of the story — college grads who are underemployed and developing a life outlook in response to their employment status.

Kelly was a UF advertising major. She may have been a student in the auditorium writing course I teach, Writing for Mass Communication, that is required for advertising, journalism and public relations majors.

Kelly has a professional job (part-time secretary at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville), and she’s got a positive outlook about her situation, saying that by working part-time she can have more flexibility to write and cook. But she and the other college grads profiled in the story are struggling with finding jobs in their chosen fields.

As the NY Times article discusses, this is a very challenging job market. My own experience with undergraduate and graduate students who have graduated in the last two years echoes what the NY Times story found. Many of the grads who are desperately job hunting now would have been hired if they had been on the job market just four or five years ago.

A focus of my time at the 2011 BlogHer Convention last month in San Diego was talking about the job market with the photographers, videographers, exhibit hall workers and bloggers attending the convention. The convention was a great opportunity for me to find out more about the current job market in communications — especially for those in their 20s and 30s — so that I could share my observations with my students.

Several of those I talked with at BlogHer, including three of my former students (what a surprise to see them at BlogHer!), were in full-time jobs doing just the kind of work they had hoped to. Most of those were working in public relations, and they  said that their divisions/departments had been downsized and that they had more duties now than they did a year ago.

But the majority of people working the convention (versus those paying to attend the convention) were freelancers who had been hired by a company to work the convention. A photographer I talked with said that he had been caught in the downsizing initiatives of two different newspapers. He now is freelancing. He was at BlogHer working for Hershey’s, but most of his work was for news organizations, such as the Associated Press.

Several of the 20-something bloggers I talked with were journalism majors who hadn’t been able to land a job in journalism when they graduated. Most were blogging as a way to keep writing and earn some income, such as by receiving products from blogging endorsements or through revenue from being an affiliate for an organization like Amazon.

Based on the interviews with those members of Generation Limbo in the NY Times story and my own conversations at BlogHer with folks in the under-35 age group, here are eight tips:

1. While waiting for the job that you really want, take another job or freelance.
Those interviewed for the NY Times story had jobs, primarily part-time jobs. But those jobs provided some income (many had student loans they were paying off) and also helped with their outlook. In the communications field, freelancers play a key role in most organizations.

2. Make positive use of the time if you aren’t in a 40-hours-a-week job.
The NY Times article made the point that many of those in Generation Limbo are using the time that they aren’t in full-time jobs to explore other interests — music, art, writing or travel. From what some of those interviewed for the NY Times story said, they may be developing some life balance skills that will be helpful for when they do have a full-time job.

3. Use volunteer opportunities or your own ventures, such as blogging, to help you connect with the field you are trying to be employed in.
You may be employed in a field that you aren’t planning on as a career, but you can be volunteering related to your career goals. For those hoping to be employed in the communications field, helping with an organization’s event (such as the March of Dimes Walk for Babies) or editing your church’s newsletter can lead to materials to include in your portfolio and also can lead to useful contacts.

4. Establish a level of independent living.
One of the people in the NY Times story moved into more active job hunting only after his parents started charging him $500 a month for rent after he had been living with them for several months. Family and friends will be supportive — but up to a point. As a student or grad with only a part-time job, defer those major purchases. College students should avoid building up credit card debt.

5. Develop and practice technology skills.
The BlogHer Convention had a major emphasis on technology, of course. But more and more businesses of any kind require technology skills. Learning technology skills and being able to include that in your resume can be very helpful. One of my former students who has been working in public relations for seven years pointed out how important it is to stay up-to-date with technology, which often means learning it on your own. Among the new media applications she has had to learn are Facebook, foursquare, blogging, Twitter and Google Docs.

6. Determine what job-related activities your college or university provides and if you, as a grad, can participate.
Most colleges and universities have career counseling centers that host internship fairs, offer resume critiques, and provide a databank of employers. Those services are designed for current students, but many universities allow recent grads to participate.

7. Always have business cards for planned and unexpected networking opportunities.
I’ve talked with students who think they need to wait to get business cards until they have a job to list on the card. Having business cards can be a key part of helping your get a job. Most of the business cards  I collected at BlogHer included the person’s name, email, cell phone, blog and/or website, and a list of skills — but few included a business’s name.

8. Network, network, network.
Update your online profile, such as LinkedIn. Let your friends, relatives, former teachers and former employers know that you are looking for a job. That kind of networking often leads to hearing about jobs.

What other tips would you give for those in their 20s and 30s — especially those who recently have graduated from college — for obtaining a job?

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70 thoughts on “8 tips to help recent college graduates (and others, too) find a job

  1. Lots of good advice here.

    I’d add: don’t be a snob! Many grads feel entitled (why?) to a well-paid job in their field, or doing something fun or cool. Many of the people who will likely be hiring or managing them (in their 40s, 50s or beyond) grew up with very different ideas, fully expecting (as we did) that we’d spend years paying dues before getting (if we were lucky) the jobs or incomes we dreamed of.

    And now those grads are competing for decent jobs with people who have decades of skills and experience already.

    I went from a FT job at the nation’s 6th largest daily newspaper to a retail job, PT, making $11/hr. Fun? Not so much. It kept food in the fridge and gas in my car and gave me new skills and insights. It became a book, (now sold to China as well) and may yet become a network sitcom. But in those 27 months in a low-wage, low-status job, I also got a good look at how people treat those working in jobs they disdain.

    Take a chance. No job anywhere is “beneath you”.

    • Most of us are doing just that. It’s hard to get any jobs at all right now, even lower income ones. Generally people tell us to take unpaid internships, but a lot of us can’t afford to work for free and still manage to pay the rent. I do feel entitled to a paycheck for work done, no matter how small that paycheck may be.

  2. Great post! I remember how bewildering it was for me when I was a fresh graduate. I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what I was supposed to do next.

    Thank God for family, friends, and posts like these!

  3. Great tips for recent grads of this generation. As a 27 year-old, I’d be curious to hear what tips people offer.

  4. One key tip I would suggest for students/grad-students would be to intern. Intern, intern, intern. I interned for six months while in my last semester at school, graduated, then was hired a month later at the company I interned for. Even if it’s unpaid, I highly suggest interning if the opportunity arises. You receive on the job experience along with a great way to network your abilities. :)

    • Thanks for promoting the value of internships. Internships can be a major boost to employment. The internships help one develop skills, a portfolio, and contacts. Some employers use internships as a job try-out.

      • I went to school F/T, worked P/T and interned P/T. I’m not going to lie – it’s hard – but it’s not impossible. Six-Seven months of hard labor is worth it to achieve on-the-job experience and a higher chance of getting a F/T gig right out of college.

        I worked my ass off, and graduated, quit my P/T job and now work at the company that I interned for. A little hard work really pays off.

    • Recent college grads can be so fortunate to have parents who will let them move home so they have a home base for their job searching. But having the living-at-home adult child doesn’t turn out well for most parents and adult children. A challenge for parents can be knowing when the no rent/low rent situation may be part of why the grad hasn’t found a job.

      If your daughter is a Harry Potter fan, she should read Melissa Anelli’s “Harry, A History,” which also is the story of how Anelli, after her college graduation, finally got motivated to find a job. And what a job.

  5. These tips are helpful, but I would add a few more:

    1) Read the news. It’s important to be educated on what’s going on in the world, and it can help you converse with future employers intelligently.

    2) Apply for 1-to-2-year volunteer programs. Many of these programs, like AmeriCorps NCCC, will provide you with all of your necessary living expenses, while giving you the opportunity to meet new people, travel, and improve local communities and yourself. AmeriCorps NCCC also helps you learn new skills and network.

    3) Take online classes. If your undergraduate degree left you wanting in practical skills, take specialized course online. This will not only help you improve your craft, but it will look good on a resume.

    4) Save more by spending less. If you aren’t making much money, don’t put yourself at an even greater disadvantage by racking up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. You should be scrimping, saving, and penny-pinching, not drowning your sorrows in six-packs and cable TV. If you can’t afford to pay cash for it, and you won’t die without it, you don’t need it.

  6. As a member of “Generation Limbo”, I find this a frustrating yet in some ways fascinating time for new grads. It’s forcing us to stretch and grow like no other time in our’s or even our parents’ memories. The negative side of all this is that we don’t have much money or much independence. The good part is that we are building our resumes with a number of varied skills which could come in handy in future job searches. Some of us are getting up the courage to go onto graduate school as well, a prospect we might not have considered in better times. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my part-time job and learning everything from it I can. Blogging and taking online classes are great ways to fill that extra time.

    (P.S. Is there anything like BlogHer in the Chicago area? I’d love to attend!)

    • You are making good use of your time with blogging and online courses in addition to your part-time job.

      Be sure to determine what admission test is required for any grad programs (such as the GRE) you are considering, as higher test scores sometimes can lead to scholarships or assistantships. And apply early, as often those assistantships are awarded as students are admitted.

      BlogHer has a number of conferences each year, some of which are themed. Most of those coming up in the next year are in NYC. But you can take a cost-saving approach to conferences by checking out the 2011 BlogHer sessions that are posted free online — notes from the sessions, podcasts and photos.
      http://www.blogher.com/node/305898/virtual-conference/posts

  7. Great advice, but another I would add is… Throw away your sense of entitlement. My generation seems pretty sure that we are going to each saunter into $60 000 a year jobs straight away without working our way up… not going to happen.

  8. To add to your suggest of volunteering, many news outlets are adopting a nonprofit model. For journalism students, plenty of opportunities are available in the noncommercial sector.

  9. A very interesting and informative post. Generation Limbo is very much present in Europe, too, with many graduates from top universities struggling to find a job months after graduation. Your tips are right on point; I would also add that anyone looking for a job should sign up with as many recruitment agencies as possible. It’s their job to get you a job!

  10. I’m a recent graduate of English, from England, and it’s the same problem here. Out of all of my university friends only one has a job now, and pretty much all of us our living at home and working part-time. Taking up more writing and in particular my blog has really helped me and I’ve actually been in touch with loads more people who work in Publishing and Writing (the areas I’d like to work in) than I would have done if I hadn’t pursued my interests outside of part-time work and grad job hunting. It’s a scary time for grads but your tips are great! Keeping going is the best, and only way to go about building graduate futures…I hope! Great article :)

  11. These are great tips. I graduated last December and am also a member of generation limbo–underemployed and eager for full-time employment. Step one for me, and the greatest advice I give to others, is to get over yourself. There are thousands upon thousands of people who graduate every semester from college. Some will be smarter, have better GPA’s, be more charismatic, have more experience, and be more socially involved–than you. You aren’t as unique as you think, not in an employment sense, so humble yourself. You will probably not make the money your college claimed you would. You probably won’t be in the career you dreamed into you gain some extra skills/education/work experience. Humbling yourself makes dealing with the rejections much easier, and may lead to some new discoveries. For me, it was starting a blog about post-grad life to become a faster/accurate typist, a skill that is much needed in my potential profession. I also enrolled in some free online courses through universal class to gain extra knowledge for free that I’d otherwise have to pay tuition somewhere to gain. Lastly, I’m headed back to school for my MBA, something I planned to do further down the road, but the job market gives me an opportunity to do it now, and turn lemons into an Arnold Palmer. Anyway, great post, and I’m excited that others are paying attention to how hard of a time new graduates are having in this zero job growth kind of world. ;)

    • You’ve got that first-hand insight about needing to scale back one’s expectations when entering the job market. That’s true for recent grads and those who are back on the job market due to downsizing and layoffs. Good tips about using a blog to improve your typing/writing/thinking skills and to take online courses. Some really good and free online courses. Good luck being back in school for your MBA. You’re right that being in grad school can be a good place to be during an economic downturn. (Try not to acquire too much student loan debt.)

  12. Thanks for this! I’m currently looking for a job and graduated in 2009 so this article really hit home. I can’t pay my enormous debt off because I was unfairly fired from my first semi-full time fast food “shift manager” position and have been on unemployment for months. I’m still optimistic and blog every day to keep my skills where they (hopefully) need to be. I went to school because I wanted to learn and now I get to learn a different set of skills to pay the bills :) These tips should really help me; I’ve done a few of them on my own so far.

    • Thanks for sharing your job experience. Good for you for being optimistic and blogging. I remind students I work with that a blog is an online portfolio, if you take that approach, showcasing your writing, research skills and photography. When you land that next job, let me know the strategies you used that worked. Best wishes.

  13. I mentor imminent graduates from Simmons College and I always tell them the same thing. Here’s what you do: Talk to everyone you know and tell them you are looking for a job. Find out who they know who is in a field similar to that in which you want to work. Ask if you can use your friend’s name. Send the person a cover letter and resume (by snail mail or email) and say your friend suggested that you contact them FOR ADVICE on getting a job in the field. Say you will follow up by phone and do it. 90% of people will agree to see you. When you meet with them, dress as if you were going on a job interview, ask intelligent questions about the field, talk about your skills and goals (but don’t brag), and do not overstay your welcome. Thirty minutes ought to be enough. Before you leave, ask if they can recommend anyone else you should talk to. Etcetera. It takes work, but you will find a job a lot faster this way than answering ads.

    • Hope your imminent graduates are following your great practical advice and getting results. Those “informational interviews” can lead to job opportunities and, at the least, can provide interviewing practice (including preparing a resume and staying on time).

  14. I am definitely part of the “Generation Limbo.” If I could have done it all over again, I would have taken some sort of retail job first before getting a full-time permanent position, since now I realize I wasn’t mature enough for it yet. I am now, but back then I sure wasn’t, even though I felt “entitled” like many other recent grads do once they finish their studies. Now, I take temp jobs in my field just to make up for the decisions I made right after college in order to make up for time lost.

    • Your blog provides advice about savvy ways to use social media in small businesses. Almost every undergrad I work with has a Facebook page, Twitter or a blog. But very few — until coached — can see how social media used appropriately can be part of their job portfolio.

  15. I find that advertising via Facebook or blog is a great way to get yourself “known” without having to pay hundreds of dollars for a wall at a gallery.

  16. These are good tips. I’ll add one outside the box. Before you enter college, think very seriously about studying for a profession that is in demand. No matter what other actions you take or how your attitude is toward it, if you are qualified to do a job that is in demand, you will be much more likely to get hired. Though I worked in other more artsy, creative and lucrative jobs in between, the jobs I performed at the beginning and now at the end of my career life were the easiest to get hired for. I began in retail sales – low starting pay, but you can get hired anywhere if you are good at it. Now I perform medical imaging. Again, I can find work anywhere. I can still write creatively and work on music and do other personally fulfilling activities in my leisure time.

  17. Everyone, author of the main article included, has given such wonderful advice! Sadly, I am one of the many that is looking for a full time job with benefits. My younger brother has one, though, and is unhappy with it; he says that he’ll stay at least a year for the experience and keep looking for something better. I am working part-time at a cookie/ice cream shop in the area mall. I keep looking, networking (I have a LinkedIn account), and stay positive. I also have my own business cards (such as described above). I have been looking for a public relations position since I graduated with my first degree in 2004 and that is a terribly hard field to get into for some reason. At any rate, we can only hope the economy will turn around, but in the meantime this gives people like me an opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes and who knows maybe we’ll learn to like (or dare I say it “love”) the part-time job and it will flourish into a full time job soon.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. In an upcoming blog post, I’d like to pick up on your comments about your part-time job and the difficulty of getting a position in public relations.

  18. Very informative and helpful article! Situation’s the same in the UK, sadly. I’ve been gradated for two years now, and have been getting by on part-time or temp stuff. It’s worth noting that finding a stable job can be even more difficult while struggling with poor mental health.

    • Rachel – Having a global economy means that many countries are sharing some of the same economic highs and lows. I hope you’re seeking out free or low-cost mental health counseling. Some hospital/clinics/universities provide such services to provide experience/internships for those who are completing degrees and will be entering the mental health profession. Good luck!

  19. As a member of “Generation Limbo” this article hit home. I graduated in the Spring of 2010 and am still looking for a full time job (I’m substitute teaching right now). It’s a sad yet comforting feeling to know I’m not alone by any means.
    A common accusation against my generation is that we are entitled- although I think that is a generalization- there is a grain of salt to it. However, I don’t blame my generation for thinking it was going to be easier than this. A college education was sold to us as that golden ticket you needed to succeed. “Just work hard and graduate college and you will make a million dollars more in your life time” is what we were told. We grew up seeing the graduates of the mid-90s to mid-00s get those great jobs right out of College. I think there was a lot of false advertising as to how the real world works.
    Another thing worth mentioning is that “Generation Limbo” was also the generation that was constantly rewarded for the littlest thing, incessantly told we were “special” and given an award for field day for simply “participating”. Is it any wonder that my generation has entitlement problems?

    • One positive for the grim job market is that many recent grads are doing what you’re doing — substitute teaching. That could open up a career option for you in teaching. You also can be a positive role model for the students you work with. You need to be teaching the lesson plan that the teacher left, but you also can provide some motivation for students who may think they are going to move right into a job. What do you wish someone had told you when you were at that age to help prepare you? And as a former high school teacher myself, I think that substituting can help make you more effective in working with young people — whether as a church group leader, a Scout master or a parent. So good for you for substituting. Good luck in the search for a full-time job.

      A real positive I see in today’s college students and recent grads is their real commitment to others through service, cultivated in some by required community service for high school graduation. Students are interested in helping others — tutoring in low-achieving schools, volunteering at the homeless shelter, assisting with pet rescue programs.

      • I think that what I was told was mostly right, because College was right for me. The problem I see is that students are being told that everyone needs to go to a four-year college, which really isn’t true. For instance, if a student is really good working with their hands- become an auto mechanic. It’s perfectly valid employment that is needed and I (and many) don’t know how to do. I would personally try to push more students to gain more technical knowledge. It’s really where the world is heading. Not that there isn’t a place for the liberal arts degree- I just think that students so be sure to look at other options.

        I have to say that substituting has certainly be an interesting experience. I had no plans to ever do it in College.It has created many memorable stories and was something I could do with my degree while I look for something better.

      • This is so true. I know many people who have taken up volunteering or doing community-related jobs. Programs like Teach For America, Peace Corps, and Americorps are quite popular among graduates like myself. It’s truly a wonderful thing, in my opinion. Hopefully in the future, our generation will be known for these things and not for being stuck in limbo.

  20. Great post. I shared it on the Facebook page we have for our students. Many keep fretting about the “doom and gloom” they are hearing about the job market and I like the positive slant you give here on what to do until their ship comes in.

    • Glad my advice and the very helpful insights and advice from those who have commented on this post can help your students. In relation to waiting until their ship comes in…
      They need to not be so focused on waiting for that one ship that they can’t see the rowboat or kayak that they may need to be rowing or paddling to get to the ship. And learn to read the tides and the wind to be ready to launch.

  21. Unemployed for two years and now in grad school, doing double Masters degrees, I hope that I *might* be able to find a job once it’s all over. At this point in my life (early 30′s), my guess is that I’ll never get out of in-school debt and even finding a part-time job is hard. I live in an area with a 9.5% unemployment rate. Last summer I lived in another state, and there were people with doctorates who couldn’t find jobs. My field is shrinking due to the economic collapse, and I’m trying not to panic over the whole thing.

    Trust me, I’m not entitled. I am only in survival mode, if I can do that. Welcome to stress. Don’t scoff at “Generation Limbo.” We don’t expect to get amazing jobs. We just want anything right now- paying rent, buying food, and gas is all that we hope to aspire to. I can’t afford to volunteer since I need to be able to pay rent. And most of us aren’t insured at all. So, for those who have even part-time jobs, be grateful. Some of us aren’t even that lucky.

  22. Most of my peers are planning on doing some kind of professional school–grad, law, or med school–and I’m one of those bunch. I think a lot of students are turning to a higher education (post BS) due to lack of job opportunities. Whether this may or may not create a discrepancy in the job market…I’m not quite sure. But this is definitely making professional schools way more competitive because of the number of students that are now applying.

    For now, the best thing we have to hold on to are part-time jobs, but even those are not that promising (no healthcare benefits, no retirement plans). But I think in the meantime, they will have to do.

  23. I graduated with May and even though I think I have the qualities that would lend to being a great employee, people simply aren’t hiring. Networking and job-searching have become my “job” and blogging what makes me feel productive and keeps me sane. It really is hard going from “go to college and you can do anything you dream of” to “go to college and you can serve tables, if you’re lucky.” I’ve had a few breakdowns in the past months, but I think those of us in this situation just need to keep our heads up and our eyes open because something is bound to come through, hopefully something we’re not way overqualified for.

    Thanks for a great post and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  24. Its a very relevant article and extremely helpful too. As it is the same situation in India as well, students freshers are hunting for the right job and until they get one they are left with little choice but to take up a job that serves your daily bread and self respect. Perhaps further studies and specialization in the chosen field would be a long term solution.

  25. I can really relate to this article even though I am currently only a sophomore in college. With everything I hear on the news everyday I am nervous of my future upon graduation within the work force. The tips you provided were insightful and reinforced points that I started hearing as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. I can tell those students out there from experience that networking and taking advantage of internship opportunities are both highly useful in making yourself more marketable. Having an internship also gives you real experience in the field and prepares you better for the real thing and not just what the classroom teaches you. I hope for a better job market, but will continue to keep these points in mind when I enter the job market…even though it is three years away!

  26. Having graduated two years ago and been employed for only five months at a time (before being laid off because of downsizing), I can testify to how difficult it is to find a job. However, I’ve also gotten interviews in the meantime and found great leads through my college’s online job board. I’ve also been blogging here on WordPress and am trying to get into a tech writing course that will get me certification in that field.

    So, to sum up, I think this article really hits some good points for job hunters like me to keep on. It is very hard, but with a good attitude and good effort, it doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world.

  27. Great advice! I just graduated in May and finally got a full time job, it might not be my dream job, but I’m beginning to wonder if I really even know that would be! I think “generation limbo” has been fed a sort of fairy tale. We’re taught all our lives that if you do things right, pick what you want to do and do well in college that you’ll be successful in your life – not only financially but will actually be happy with your career choice also. And that’s not so much how the real world is.

  28. What a fantastic post! I work at a private college and always appreciate further tips to send along to our students. Thanks so much for sharing them! I’ll be sure to post this article on our Facebook page.

  29. I graduated from college a year and a half ago, and looking at this list, I think all of these tips are spot on. Every college graduate – or student nearing graduation – needs to see these, understand them, and implement them.

  30. Pingback: Know Someone Graduating from College? « The Education Cafe

  31. Adding support for volunteering and freelancing. I did both before settling into a ‘regular’ form of employment, and it was hugely worthwhile. The job scene for graduates is equally bleak in the UK, but looking at these two areas in particular can be a great way to fill the gap. I was certainly surprised going freelance, how much people were willing to pay for some fairly obscure things (I’m talking about surveying jobs just in case that could be miscontrued).

  32. Wonderful tips. As a 2009 graduate with no job, I’ve been doing many of these things. I started volunteering and created an extensive blog project with initial intentions of just fighting off boredom. With volunteering came positive connections and networking opportunities, and my blog has become a massive online writing portfolio. I’m optimistic about the future and hope that other under employed graduates make good use of their skills and spare time.

  33. Don’t rely on the Internet-Technology to solve all your problems. Pavement pounding and face to face human interaction gives you a strategic advantage as ironic as that may seem in our wired world. Go out and get what you need. The things that are most worthwhile in life don’t come easy.

  34. Great post! I’m part of ‘Generation Limbo’ too. I have been doing quite a few of your tips already, which is great. I have been umming and ahhing about getting business cards for ages though- you’ve now just persuaded me to get them, thanks :).

  35. I think a more accurate moniker for “generation limbo” would really be “generation purgatory.” That may sound intense, but unemployment can be both a miserable and joyous time of self-discovery. Miserable in that the autonomy we had in college has vanished and we are back to being dependent on our parents (if we are so lucky). Joyous in that we can keep holding on to and developing our non-9-5 dreams a little longer … and that we get to sleep-in.

    I graduated uni in Dec. 2010 and I finally found meaningful employment two months ago. I would like to stress the importance of being well-rounded when searching for a job. First of all — it makes you interesting. Never underestimate the value of intrigue when trying to get your foot in the door. I majored in environmental economics — and I work at an advertising agency. I haven’t asked why I was hired, but I bet that doing well in my math-heavy major, being an assistant news editor at my college paper and starting my own student group might have made me stand-out from the crowd of communications/journalism/marketing majors that applied for the same position. I also like to pretend that I’m charming, though, so who knows? I’m not saying “only apply to jobs that have nothing to do with your studies,” but just know that jobs that have nothing to do with your major are not unattainable.

  36. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to share their own job-hunting experiences and to offer advice. The difficulty of finding a full-time job definitely is a topic of concern for those in the job search and for the bigger economic picture. I’m going to pick up on some of the advice in upcoming posts.

  37. This is a spot-on article, but I can’t get over the $500 for rent. That’s pretty harsh. Really, $500?

    It’s tough out there, and freelancing and blogging are great options, but the learning curve is pretty steep. Don’t just make up your mind one day that you’re going to freelance and/or blog. Learn as much as you possibly can first, test the waters, and if you like it, go at it with everything you’ve got. As someone who knows, it’s either that or working for someone else for pennies.

  38. Very good advice…if only more college students understood this. So many people just assume that when they graduate they’ll have a job lined up. While this is true for some, it certainly isn’t true for all!

  39. I’m going to be a college grad in a few years, and I’m endlessly worried about this. In addition to everything you said, I’m trying to break into a field that is really difficult to break into–theatre design–and even harder to advance in. Freelance is a wonderful idea, but how do you connect with the people in the world or in your area that would be be willing to pay you for your services? This is something I don’ yet understand.

    • In many fields, you have to volunteer first before moving into a paying position. If you’re interested in theater design, I trust that you have checked out the local theaters in your area and have volunteered to help with set design. That’s a good way to develop your portfolio of theater work and to develop contacts. You say you’ll be a college grad in a few years. If you are attending college now, are you in a theater-related major? If your college doesn’t have a theater major, what are you majoring in that can be helpful as you explore your interest in theater? Your goal is not to be endlessly worrying but to try and make some progress each semester — with related classes and volunteer experience.

  40. Pingback: College students, jobs, and the real world « Dr. Tyra's Thoughts & Anecdotes

  41. Great advice, loads to do to help finding a job. really useful post and great to see a lot of debate. I particularly agree with the point about networking as you never know what it might lead to but it can often open doors and develop opportunities you didn’t know existed.

  42. Pingback: Tips to help you maintain an appropriate social networking profile when you are hunting for a job « Thoughts on Teaching

  43. Pingback: Graduates — Be Prepared! | The Education Cafe

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