So you got a degree. Congratulations! Now what the heck do you do with it?
Everyone is going to give you “advice” and “tips” on how to get the perfect job out of college. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to tell you my story about how I had absolutely no plan after college and eventually ended up finding my passion and working in a job I love. No advice, just experience.
The day I graduated was an exciting day! It was also a scary one. With peers getting jobs from their internships, I’d be lying to you if I didn't tell you I felt a little behind the curve. I spent 4 years with professors giving me “advice” that the competition is high today, and you need to be the best of the best in order to stand a chance in the real world. There was a lot of pressure to be employed quickly.
My story doesn’t start out with countless interviews and finding the perfect navy blue suit, (because statistically, you have a higher chance to be hired in a navy blue suit.) The truth is, I was at a party. I was talking with my fellow new grads about their new internships and jobs, which I mainly just listened to due to the fact that I hated the question “Hey PJ what are you doing now?” I met one of my friend’s older brother, who by chance was looking for a copywriter for his web development company. I said “I can do that!” By Monday, I had a job!! Part-time, but hey, I had an answer to the dreaded question.
The Copywriting Days
I worked on writing blogs, social media content, copy, and SEO meta descriptions for a small web development company. It was a team of four of us and I worked about 15 hours per week. The best part about it was the creative freedom I could apply to the work.
Eventually though, I found that I really needed something more full-time. I applied for a copywriter position at a big corporate web development company, and got it after the 2nd interview. This had me excited at first, my first “big boy” job was a huge national company. I saw myself climbing the ladder to CEO status, hopefully by the time I was 30. A long shot? Yes, but hey you got to dream big, right? Well that dream slowly diminished as I learned the difference between a small company and corporate. Simply put, I found my skills to be a lot more valuable outside of the corporate world.
I quit. Everyone told me I was being foolish to quit a steady job without another job lined up. I didn’t care. People also told me “your twenties are a time to screw up and bounce back”. So that’s exactly what I did. It felt like the right thing to do, so I took some time and re-evaluated what I really wanted out of a career. The bills never stopped however, and I was eating Easy Mac and ramen for a while.
Sometime later, I got a call from the first small web company about W2 information. It ended with, “Oh, so we were picked up by an ad agency, there’s a sales position open if you’re interested”. It just so happens that I just finished watching the movie “Yes Man” and I was all about opening myself up to new possibilities. I got the interview, made it past the second interview, and got hired.
My first day, I felt completely overwhelmed, but I surprisingly picked up the pace pretty quickly. This experience was different. I didn’t feel like I was doing meaningless tasks that no one else wanted to do. I was thrown into important meetings, large deals, and big clients all at once. After a while, you become comfortable in this realm. Before I knew it, I was the one hosting the important meetings.
I learned how to speak to potential clients, how to negotiate a quote, how to close deals, how to manage projects, how to work with a budget, how to produce results, and most importantly how to love what you do for a living. Working in accounts has been challenging and exciting all at the same time, and I feel like I have something that a lot of people don’t find in life, career passion.
So I didn’t get a prestigious internship that led to the perfect job. I made mistakes, opened the wrong doors, and fell into the right place. My only advice to someone stressed about graduation is to never be afraid to fail, because you will. You ARE going to make mistakes, so it’s better to learn to roll with the punches than to avoid the inevitable. Life throws curveballs and you can only plan so far, so make sure to never lose the courage to change, it could be the best change you ever made.