Tonight I’m going back to my alma mater, my beloved Harvard University to sit on a panel to discuss careers in advertising and brand management. It’s crazy for me to think that I only graduated 4 months ago, and that I was barely able to find a job after graduation, and that now I’m going back to help impart the knowledge that I gained on my incredibly short, whirlwind job-seeking journey.
Although my inbox wasn’t teeming with job offers, I still had a few, I still feel that there are many invaluable skills and lessons I learned along the way. I want to share these with you, and I hope that you find them helpful.
1) Really think about what you want, be realistic, and apply apply apply – I understand that in a tough job market you might be willing to take anything that comes along. Know, though, that if you’re applying for 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s jobs that you’re overqualified for or underqualified for, you’ll likely end up right where you are. Try to really narrow your search down to the jobs you’re adequately qualified for, even if it isn’t as many.
2) DO NOT apply to a thousand different jobs at the same company. It’s likely that the same HR person is looking at all of your applications, and that tells them a) you don’t know what you want to do, and b) you’re desperate
3) If you’re still in college, intern intern intern. I cannot say it enough – INTERN. I know that you want to only have class two days a week and them bum around all the other days. I know that you want to do that because I wanted to do that to. But I didn’t. I worked two full 9-5 days a week unpaid on the two days a week I didn’t have classes. Did I always love it? Of course not. Did it pay off in the end? Bigtime. I’m currently employed by the department in the agency that I interned for.
4) NETWORK - First off, if you’re not going to networking events at your college or elsewhere, do it. Meet people. Take cards. Talk to people about what they do and tell them what you think you might want to do. Did they give you their card? Awesome. Now follow up. They’re not giving you their card so you have more clutter in your wallet. They’re more than happy to talk to you. Showing the initiative in following up and asking questions can go a long way. Would they be willing to talk to you more about their company? Are there any internships (ding ding ding) available at their company? Would they mind a follow up phone call to discuss things in greater depth? In college, I met probably 30 people who worked at ad agencies and other companies in the marketing industry. I probably had hundreds of email correspondences, learning as much as I could about every company and industry-specific field I could. I went to probably 25 informational interviews (which are frustrating because you already know in advance that they don’t have any job openings). But it pays off. Because when you go to these informational interviews, you’ve showed someone your initiative. And when that job opening comes up, guess who they’re going to call? You, or that faceless resume on their desk? YOU. Dummy.
Finally, and most importantly: HUSTLE. When I say hustle, I mean hustle. I mean bust your ass. I mean work as hard as you possibly can, in every spare moment you have, looking in every possible venue for more people to network with and more openings for the type of job you want. I mean when you’re at your internship, actually ask for work. Do your work quickly and thoroughly. Ask as many questions as you have. Don’t assume you know anything. Prove to whomever you’re interning for that you want to work at that company. Don’t say it, prove it. When you’re busting your ass, they’ll know.