Hey there, college seniors. I hate to be that person, but y'all are graduating soon. Like, really soon.
Not to freak you out or anything, but this is kind of a big deal. You're about to enter a whole new part of the world, and those first few months can be pretty overwhelming. It doesn't help that everyone around you, including me, is pressuring you to do that one little thing: Get a job.
Look, there's no denying it, getting your first job after college is hard. Applying for jobs is basically a full-time job in itself, except no one's paying you to do it. It's also annoyingly subjective, which means sometimes you can do everything right and still not even get an interview.
Still, as someone who got a salaried job a year after graduating, and as someone who loves to brag, I can tell you this feat is NOT impossible. In fact, I would go so far as to say if you're dedicated and willing to put in the work, getting a job after college is downright probable.
I know what you're thinking: "Blah blah blah, that's what they all say. Vague advice about working hard and believing in yourself. But how do college grads actually get jobs?"
I hear ya. So I asked some of my co-workers and friends to share their stories of what exactly they did to get their first jobs after college. Here is their advice.
1. Choose a focus to pursue. You can always change your mind later!
I had a job secured a few weeks before I graduated. I made this happen because I spent my college years building up my resume and positioning myself to land a job in the field I wanted. My job search was easy because I had a very specific job in mind! My advice: The job you pick after school won't be the job you have forever, so just pick one thing you think you'd like and see where it takes you.
—Talia Koren, 23, Cinema Studies major
2. Connect with as many people as you possibly can. A stranger could change your life.
Oddly enough I got my first job because someone called me by accident. One random day I received a phone call asking if I could cover the 'night shift' because so-and-so was out. I told the person on the phone she had the wrong number to which she replied, "Is this Evan?" That is my name, but I had no idea who the person was. Turned out my LinkedIn friend had given an HR representative for a major network company in NYC my number instead of another Evan he knew. They asked me on the spot to come in and interview for a freelance position, which turned into a full-time position that I stayed at for more than two years. My advice for new graduates is to connect with as many people as you can. Stay in touch, help out others and always stay active. You literally never know when a phone call can change your life.
—Evan Brenner, 26, Graphic Design and Multi-Media Production major
3. Go all out on your resume and portfolio.
The best advice that I could give to upcoming graduates is to have a killer resume and awesome portfolio that truly showcase your personal brand, in addition to the internships you have under your belt and work you have to show for it.
—Alexa Mellardo, 23, Print Journalism major
4. Do your research. Don't send the same resume and cover letter out every time!
My first actual job I had was in the media industry. I knew what the company's needs were, and this was also my second time applying so they knew I was interested. I did a good job during the interview of showing I actually knew what I was talking about and capable of solid work that would benefit the company. Tailor yourself to the job for which you are applying. That means adjust your resume, ask different questions of your interviewer (you should ALWAYS have a couple questions for your interviewer because it shows your engagement with the company) and actually RESEARCH the company.
—Jake Cappucino, 24, History major
5. Always go the extra mile and follow up after you apply.
I started job hunting early October of my senior year and did my best to network as much as possible. I set up informal phone interviews with people who already worked in the company and reached out via email and LinkedIn, as well. I continued to follow up with the people I spoke to and kept them updated on my progress, so when I submitted my resume, it stood out because they were already familiar with my name, face and writing. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't take those extra steps!
—Katie Corvino, 23, Art and Design major
6. Don't worry about your pride. Just worry about getting your foot in the door.
In undergrad, I used to look up different addresses of various media companies, put on my suit, walk around New York City and go straight to their HQs asking what would I have to do to work there. I did it enough times to meet Elite Daily, practically by accident. Two weeks later, I was working in our office, and I've been here for three years. Be proactive, don't be afraid to walk up to people and realize you don't have much pride to lose, especially as a soon-to-be graduate from whom not much is immediately expected, anyway. When it comes to your career, focus on getting in the building first. You can work your way up to different floors later.
—Joe Milord, 24, Journalism & Media Studies major
7. Sometimes you have to pay your dues with a terrible job.
My first real job was for a giant textbook company where I wrote the back cover of textbooks. It was awful, paid nothing and made me want to cry every day. It also, however, afforded me the time and opportunity to evaluate what I really wanted to be doing and pushed me to achieve it. My advice is sometimes you have to take the sh*tty job and pay your dues. And that's totally OK because you walk away with a great life story.
—Stacey Leasca, 31, English and Secondary Education major
8. At the same time, don't be afraid to quit something you know really isn't right for you.
On a whim, I took a legit marketing job at this Jewish organization. I literally just emailed a friend there about a job I saw open and took it in a moment of weakness. I quit six months after. Whatever job you take, make sure you keep your long-term goals in focus. Even if the job isn't in the field you want, make sure on the side you are at least setting yourself up to take a job in the field you want the second the opportunity arises. Don't be afraid to quit a job you hate.
—Eitan Levine, 26, Marketing major
9. Recognize that building a career is a process, and sometimes that takes a while.
Your first job is only the first stepping stone of your career, so don't be discouraged if you don't get your dream job right out of the gate. You will get there! Experience is key to moving forward and getting to where you want to go.
—Tina Kolokathis, 23, Journalism major
10. It's about finding a balance between pursuing your dreams and being practical.
Go for the dream positions as well as the practical ones because you never know what you can get. Be willing to take something not exactly in your field and then do that job really well, but also let people know where your true skills and passions lie. I ended up being able to do more artistic and design stuff in my non-design internship, and that led to me getting an art position after the internship.
—Jenna Bergstraesser, 23, Visual Arts major
11. Find the confidence to believe in yourself. You'll get the job you think you deserve!
I was close to graduation, working as a graphic intern for an interior designer. Turned out to be the worst internship I'd ever gotten myself into. My career academic advisor reached out to me about a potential internship at Elite Daily, and I came in for an interview. I hopped on the opportunity immediately. I came to my internship two hours early (literally 7 am in the morning) just to quit, and I walked over to the Elite Daily office. You need to be relentless. Don't just tell yourself you'll do better, or you'll get that job some day. You need to act on your words. Be honest with yourself. Am I really who I say I am? Do I believe that I deserve to be where I am right now? The moment you find honesty in yourself, you will find the confidence you need to go out there and get what you deserve.
—Robert Rodriguez, 22, Graphic Design major
12. Remember the process is different for everyone. Don't try to recreate the identical path of someone else.
As soon as I left college in Syracuse, I moved straight to the city. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew my skills, and I knew I wanted to be in NYC. Without a plan, I immediately became a nanny. I got the job through Care.com, and loved every moment of it. During my time as a nanny, I was also looking for full-time jobs because I promised my parents I would have a job within a year of living there. Miraculously, at the end of the school year, when my part-time job was coming to an end, I wound up getting a job at Elite Daily through a friend who also attended Syracuse University. My job hunt was not easy, and everybody's situation is different. I think it's important to listen to yourself when you leave college. Not everyone gets a job immediately, and if you need to take time to figure out who you are, then do that.
—Celine Rahman, 26, Communication & Rhetorical Studies major
All that said, this advice is not a how-to manual — it's just meant to motivate you and hopefully steer you in the right direction. So don't stress too much if you feel behind. I promise you there's still time. There's always still time.
It's not going to be easy, and it's probably not going to be fair, but I believe in you, college grads! You guys got this.