Senior year moves fast. It moves so fast that before you know it, everything you looked forward to in your final year of college, might just be swept from under your feet. I’ll never forget watching my senior year quickly slip through my fingers as if it were sand filing through an hourglass — and that’s also how fast job opportunities vanished into a cold economy. While I had utilized my time in college by building my network of connections, holding many jobs and internships, and trying to stay involved, not even a pandemic could save me from what I thought was a perfectly outlined path to success.
Looking back on these past few months, I have reflected a lot. If there’s any advice I would give to someone who’s in the shoes I was in a month ago, it would be this:
1) Interviewing is like dating – Explore your options, and don’t commit unless you really mean it. When meeting a new company for the first time, try to be open-minded, even if you’re not sure it’s the one. For example, if you went on a date with a guy you barely know, you would probably want him to be open to getting to know you. Just as you want him to be open-minded about you, you should also be open-minded about him. The lesson here is not to rule out a company before you’ve given them a fair chance. I had an interview set up, but my heart was with another company. I considered backing out but decided to go through with it because, at the very least, it was interview experience. It was a good thing I did, too, because the job my heart was with was completely removed from the company as a result of this ongoing pandemic. Before I knew this, though, I did my homework on the company I was to have an interview with. I gave it my all and remained open-minded. I fell in love with the company and even received my first job offer. Though my heart led me down another path, I am grateful for the experience and connections I made through the process.
2) Communicate, communicate, communicate – If you’re having hesitations, express them. Talk with your parents, your peers, and even the company. If you’re interviewing with more than one company, tell the company that! This lets them know you have options and that way they will be more likely to act on making you a job offer, rather than string you along.
3) Follow your gut & don’t settle – If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. No matter how much it might sound right, if deep down it doesn’t feel right, then there’s a reason. I received a job offer for a company I loved and really wanted to work for. I wanted to be excited, but I just couldn’t be. Something felt off, and the thought of moving across the country brought me to tears. I was beginning to run out of options as the pandemic quickly snatched up the rest of my potential job opportunities. Fresh out of back-up plans, and no new opportunities in sight, I worried I was making a big mistake. Most of my classmates and friends had already lost the jobs they had lined up for months, and we were breaking records for the number of college graduates without a job. I faced the possibility of having to move back home until I figured something out. It seemed like the smart choice to go with the job offer I had, but I knew my gut was saying otherwise. So, I listened to my gut.
4) Utilize your LinkedIn account — it will open doors for you – I’ve always been connected on LinkedIn. I try to keep it up-to-date and at least check messages from time to time. I underestimated the power of LinkedIn. On the day that I declined my job offer, I received a message on LinkedIn from the CEO of a marketing agency. In the middle of a pandemic, a CEO was reaching out to me! I thought it was probably a hoax, so I checked out the company. It wasn’t. It was a growing company, with an opportunity that was perfect for me and looked like my kind of place, so I responded. I interviewed two days later on a Friday. By Monday (the day of my “virtual” graduation), I received an offer for the job.
5) Never stop reading – Along this unsettling journey, I read every single night. One book, in particular, I read a little bit of every single night before I went to bed. This book was titled the Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. My dad has always given me books to read, and he kept encouraging me to crack this one open. This book continuously reiterated the idea of thinking your way into change. I’ll admit, there were dark days when I felt hopeless. But I made up my mind to think positive and told myself that I would end up where I needed to be.
6) Don’t underestimate company culture – The people I work with are everything. I love going to work every day and I genuinely enjoy being in the office. I’m happy where I am, and that motivates me to give my all and to be the best employee I can possibly be.
7) Always send a handwritten thank-you note – If you’ve never sent a handwritten note thanking people for their time and the opportunity, you are doing it wrong! I cannot tell you how much that means to people. Follow-up emails are great and should always be done. But if you can go the extra mile with a handwritten note, it might just be what sets you apart from other candidates.
If there’s one takeaway, it would be to always remain positive and to trust that you will be led in the right direction. Always listen to your gut, it will be your guide. Don’t give up. This is such a strange and discouraging time, but in the midst of all this chaos, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you will end up where you are supposed to be. The more you trust, the sooner it will be made available to you.
Recently, I graduated from Arizona State University and Barrett, the Honors College. There, I received a degree in Marketing and a certificate in International Business. Currently, I’m the Social Media Coordinator for Youtech Agency. I have an appetite for learning, and am passionate about people and all things creative. Outside of the office you can find me scoping out new restaurants or spending my time learning new graphic design techniques! Want to connect? Say hi on Instagram!