My favorite job-hunting tip for new graduates is to find balance while job searching. This is a story of how one graduate did just that.
It’s possible that you’ve heard people talk about how life is a balancing act between things you need to do and things you want to do.
Some people get stuck on what they want to do and end up being irresponsible. Other people get stuck on what they need to do and end up letting life pass them by.
I fall into the latter category. And while you’re reading my friend’s story below, you may think he falls into that first category (it’s possible he thought this while he was living through it). But I think he is a great example of what it’s like to find balance as a recent college graduate.
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Tre’s story is a bit unorthodox in that his post-college plan was to take a break to be with his family before applying to jobs after college. Although he struggled to find a job without internship experience, he was able to get a job before the year was over.
Read on to find out what he did to get his first post-college job and what he learned about finding balance from his experience.
1. What did you get your Bachelor’s degree in?
I got my Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering
2. During your senior year, how did the thought of graduation and life after college make you feel?
Honestly, I didn’t think too much about life after college at the beginning of my senior year. I was excited to graduate and get a degree. And I knew I needed to start applying, but I didn’t start feeling a sense of urgency until mid-winter. I underestimated the job-hunting process.
3. Can you describe the expectations senior-year-you had for life after college? What job were you hoping to get and why? And what was your expected timeline?
I expected to enjoy a few months off between graduating and getting into a career. I had a very open mind to the kind of job I would be getting. I didn’t want to be picky. But I also did not want to say yes to the first offer just because it was an offer. I had a game plan — I had to start getting experience somewhere and I wanted flexibility in my life in case I wanted to change directions.
4. Did you have anything lined up after college?
I didn’t have anything lined up for after I graduated. And began the job-hunting process in the spring. I accepted a position in December. I took a break during the summer for a few months while I vacationed with family.
5. What emotions did you experience during your first year out of college while applying to jobs?
It got stressful at times. It was mostly putting in application after application, and writing a lot of cover letters. I didn’t have any internships to highlight. This didn’t give my resume as strong of a first impression as I wanted it to.
6. Can you talk more about your job hunting process? What was it like to job hunt without internships on your resume?
Because I didn’t have internships to add to my resume, I had a hard time making my applications stand out. I competed with people who had internships that were related to the job and people who had internships at that specific company and grew connections there.
7. What did you do to make your application stand out?
I looked at a bunch of job descriptions to learn what companies were looking for:
- I looked under the “preferred skills/experiences” section of job descriptions
- gave myself experience doing what companies were looking for
- and added it to my portfolio.
For example, if a company was looking for someone who had experience with Java, I thought up a project that combined a passion point and Java. I then added it to my portfolio and turned in an application
7. Tell me about your first job (that required a four-year-degree) out of college. And how long did it take you to get that job?
My first job (and still my current job) is being an implementation consultant in the supply chain industry. I work with different programming languages and implement a number of my company’s products for customers across different industries. It took about 6 months to find a job that was right for me. But the application process for this position took several weeks once I made contact. (Thanks to a referral from a fellow classmate who already worked there)
Hint: Download the Productive Job-Hunting Game Plan so you always know what step to take next in your job hunt.
8. What were your takeaways during your first year about the expectations senior-year-you had vs. how things played out?
Senior-year-me underestimated the amount of time it would take to find my current job. It’s competitive out there. And there are a lot of people who want to do the same things as you.
9. If you could talk to senior-year-you, what would you say to yourself about life after college?
I would tell my younger self to be more ambitious with finding opportunities during the summer to build my resume. Because I didn’t have internships to add to my resume, I felt a little behind. A previous internship shows you took initiative, you get experience, and you get to start networking with people in the field you are planning on working in.
But on the other hand, I would also tell myself to enjoy my time more with my friends while I was in college. It was so much easier back then to hang out with all my friends. Life gets busy and moves 100 miles an hour after graduation.
There’s so much that I love about what Tre shared. I love that he figured out a way to give himself the experience he needed to get his first job. But most of all, I love the balance his story shows:
- He took time to be with his family before job hunting.
- This shows balance because once you start your career, it’s likely that your only breaks will be the standard two week vacation days you get.
- I know too many soon-to-be college graduates (especially those who graduate in the Fall) who are so worried about not having a job lined up after college that they miss out on the opportunity to have time with their parents.
- His takeaway wasn’t that he wishes he’d just been more ambitious about getting internship experience. It was also that he wishes he appreciated the time he had with his friends while in college.
- This shows balance because he wishes he’d done a little more of both what he wanted to do and what he needed to do.
- I had so many friends who stopped hanging out with the group of us because they felt bad having free time when they should be applying to jobs. Some of those friends didn’t even end up with a job lined up after college so they missed out on some great memories.
All of this to say the best job-hunting tip for new graduates is to find balance. And that while you are job hunting, it’s okay to also take time to appreciate where you are and enjoy the time you have with people around you.
P.S. Don’t forget to download your free copy of the Productive Job-Hunting Game Plan here.
You can check out other post-college journey stories here:
- Why you should keep pushing forward even if you feel like you’re backtracking – Korin
- How the comparison affects your life after college – Jamie
- How your relationship with money affects your post-college journey – Haley
- Is it okay to apply for jobs outside of my major – Aashna
- Reasons to “trust the process” while job hunting – Alyssa