Five Tips for College Seniors: Securing a Job After Graduation

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For those of us who took the traditional track of continuing our education back to back to back, all we know is how to “school”. If you think about it, you realize that those of us who will be graduating college in May have been in school for the past seventeen years of our life! So when put in perspective, joining the real world can be really scary.

Daunting is the word I would use to describe how I feel about graduating, getting a job, starting my own life… and I will admit that my number one fear is not finding a job. Many of the people I look up to do not have advice for me in how to prepare, so that my fear does not come true, but earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with Anna Benefiel, a new addition to the office I work in.

Anna is a graduate of MIT and John Hopkins University after studying Biotechnology intensively. Lucky for me, she has found herself at The University of North Texas’ Department of Economic Development. During a get-to-know-you lunch she and I shared, Anna learned my last name, my interests, and my concerns. Through this, she gave me some insight into ways to help land your first job, your dream job, or a job in the right direction.

  1. Update Your LinkedIn Account. LinkedIn is a powerful tool in the professional world. Many businesses and clients will search LinkedIn in order to find the type of employee they are looking for. If they don’t find you through LinkedIn, a potential employer may look you up to verify your resume or just poke around. If your LinkedIn is not up-to-date with your latest employee status or education level, you may be overlooked or surpassed for a position. Don’t know what LinkedIn is? Poke around or set up an account here.
  2. Network Through Career Fairs. Networking is one of the most important aspects of getting a job. Looking good on paper is only part of the battle, but getting your name out there is another. The more places you go, the more potential employers and companies you will meet. Most universities and larger surrounding cities host career fairs; take advantage! Career Fairs are just a bunch of companies that get together to look for future candidates they may want to hire. It is important to not only get your name and face out there, but to also figure out what kinds of companies are in your field and what they are looking for in an employee. Be sure to have your resume handy and dress in business attire when you attend.
  3. Practice Interviewing. Interviews can be frightening and intense, but the more practice you get, the more prepared you will be. Practice interviews can be as low-key as sitting at the kitchen table with your roommate or actually landing an interview for a job you don’t want or don’t need, but you go anyway. The more interviews you go to, the easier it will become to handle your stress and awkwardness. Go over possible questions and come up with bullet points on how to answer (not scripts) and remember to be personable and yourself.
  4. Find Your Tribe. This was probably the best piece of advice! Finding your tribe is all about finding the people who are where you want to be. They most likely share similar interests or backgrounds as you or maybe they are someone who inspires you. Your tribe is probably not as far as you think. If you want to be a comic book writer then attend Comic-Con; author, then go to book signings. Just find people who can help you get to where you want to be.
  5. Start Now. There is no time like the present to start attending career fairs, working on your resume, updating your LinkedIn account, and finding people in the industry you want to be in. Don’t think you have to wait till May to apply for positions or figure out what you need to do to get your name out there. Begin researching now!

I hope these tips are helpful and I would love to hear if you have any other tips or tricks that you think are important for college seniors to know before heading out into the real world to find their first job!

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Growing Up

Why do we want to grow up so fast? Even as children we long to be just a year older. We think it has to be better than where we are at. We want to be able to make our own choices and do whatever we want. What we don’t realize is that with age comes responsibility.

Now I am not against responsibility. I have always felt I am quite the responsible person, but in the last few weeks I have really been struggling. The realization that in May, I will be a college graduate and “officially” an adult. I will be expected to get a job, live on my own, pay my bills, afford my lifestyle; and let me tell you: this is a scary thought.

I am one of the lucky ones who has not had to put myself through college thanks to my parents, grandparents, and scholarships that I have been fortunate enough to receive. I will have to pay back some debt, but I was encouraged to focus on school. Because of that for the past four years, I have not had to worry about school, rent, insurance, phone bill…and I am starting to really freak out that in less than a year from now I have to figure out how to pay for all of that.

I have been slowly, but surely teaching myself to budget, but failing miserably. I got a new job back in May that I thought was going to help me save up money over the summer, but has been giving me less and less hours, so my paychecks aren’t really cutting it. I have these envelopes that I split my checks into: groceries, gas, rent, entertainment, and a few others, but there doesn’t seem to be enough money to split and actually be useful. It is a rude awakening figuring out how much stuff actually costs and how all of that adds up. I have been looking for a second job; applied to almost 15 places in the past couple weeks and have heard nothing back. I have just been extremely discouraged lately.

Failure. Loser. Pathetic. These are the words that have started to float around in my mind. I had never really feared the future until now. I used to think I would make a great older person, because of how responsible I was, but now I am thinking otherwise. I am scared to finally be out in the real world, because I have no doubt it is going to make a mess of me.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 4:6-7

I Tripped and Fell Flat on My Face

falling

We met back in October. He was new to the small group I had just started attending. I was sad and depressed. He was sad and lonely. We didn’t think much of it.

Over the next few months, we gradually became friends. Discussion partners, group movie dates, ice skating, Star Wars conversations, holiday parties… it wasn’t on purpose, it wasn’t strategic, it just happened.

I remember one cold, frosty, rough night in January, I texted him asking if he was still awake. He was (because he never sleeps). I asked him if he knew any jokes. He did (because he thinks he is too funny). I asked him if he would tell me one. He did (and it was hilarious!). This became our thing. Whenever one was having a bad day, the other would know, because they would simply ask for a joke.

It was small things like this. I didn’t even notice it happening. But after awhile he just was my best friend. Nothing was too awkward. Nothing was too embarrassing. Nothing was too nerdy. Nothing was too quirky. We just let it all out little by little without even realizing.

Have you ever tripped and fallen on your face and realized it was exactly where you wanted to be the whole time?

That is me. Right now. I tripped and started falling. When I tried to catch myself, I failed and it just so happened to be the best thing to ever happen.

We are kind of dating. But since we are outwardly best friends, no one thinks anything of it. They have asked, but we always just laugh and confirm we are best buds (which we are). The truth is that I like him. I like laughing with him. I like talking with him. I like spending time with him. But I am so hesitant– not to let someone in –but to just be. So we haven’t told anyone.

I am scared, because once you get a “label” everyone else becomes so interested in your business. They question your decisions. They want every detail. They judge. They give their opinions. That has ruined previously good things in my life. So right now I want to just enjoy everything with my best friend and leave it at that. I feel like all will work out in due time.

But for right now… I am happy!

❤ Lauren

Lazy Leaves and Nonexistent Music

lonely girl

Outside the window, the leaves were falling lazily. Rich reds, bright oranges, and dull browns littered the ground. The crunch of leaves under feet could be faintly heard as people hurried by. The crisp autumn air seeped in through the cracks of the door and windows. The sun was sinking low, casting glaring rays across the room. It was an early November evening.

Besides the crunch of leaves and the occasional whoosh of wind causing the trees to tremble, the room was silent. Audrey was curled up in the corner of her bed, weighed down by three blankets and surrounded by pillows. She clutched her knees close and had tears streaming down her face. Her quiet sobs were barely audible.

Softly closing his apartment door, Jamie walked the three paces to the next door over. As he stood in front of it, he clenched his fists then stretched them out and then clenched them again. His palms were sweaty. He rubbed them against his jeans, sucked in a breath, and then knocked on the door.

Audrey’s eyes went wide. Who was at her door? What could they possibly want? Sitting really still, she hoped they would go away. Then she heard another couple light raps. She reluctantly slid out from under the blankets and padded over to the door. She hadn’t bothered to wipe away the tear stains from her cheeks.

The door opened just slightly and there she was. He let out a slow breath. She was so much prettier up close. He immediately cast his eyes down. What was he doing? Then he hesitantly looked up, taking her all in. Her bright sock clad toes wiggled. She was dressed in gray sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. Her red hair was a curly mess. Jamie stood there dumbfounded. When he found his voice, he said, “I came by to ask you to turn your music down-”

When Audrey opened the door, she was shocked to find a cute guy standing before her. He was tall with unruly dark brown hair dressed in jeans and a plain short sleeve shirt. His hands were shoved in his pockets and she shivered as she felt his gaze on her. Keeping one hand grasping the door handle, she opened it a little more. At first they just stared at each other. His eyes were a warm brown that wavered slightly. Then he mentioned something about music.

Jamie watched the confusion cross her face when he mentioned her music, but he never finished with his lame excuse to talk to her, because he became concerned with the tears that stained her cheeks. “Are you okay?” he whispered looking intently into her blue eyes. “What?” Audrey asked putting up her defensive brick wall. “I just… were you crying?” Jamie pried, not looking away from her eyes. “Look, I’m fine,” Audrey said with irritation as she tore her eyes away and stared down at her feet, “I was just enjoying a night of breaking down when you accuse me of loud music which I am obviously not playing.”

Stupid! Why was that his excuse? Why did he have to mention her tears? Jamie silently warred with himself and then he had an idea. “Put some shoes on,” he said. “Excuse me!” Audrey declared. “And grab a jacket,” he continued. “I’m sorry, but no,” she said denying his demands. “Look, I’m not just going to leave you here to cry alone all night, so just grab some shoes and a jacket, so we can go.”

Who was this guy? Why was he being nice to her? Reluctantly, Audrey slipped on a pair of shoes and grabbed a jacket. She didn’t have much to lose at this point. She stood staring at him from her doorway. He smirked and then motioned for her to follow. His smile was adorable and it made her want to melt. Audrey stopped herself from huffing, locked her door, and scurried behind him.

To Be Continued…

❤ a girl

So I’ve decided to try creative writing… what do y’all think?

Being Yourself

being yourself 1Ever since you are old enough to form your own opinions and make your own choices, you are taught and told over and over again to “be yourself,” but what does that mean?

What defines us? What makes us who we are? What sets us apart? Why are we special? Do we get to choose the answers to these questions?

Personality. Talents. Achievements. Thoughts. Actions. Mistakes. Beliefs. These are all things that come to my mind when I think about who I am, but I am much more than that.

I have struggled a lot with this concept. I like to think of myself as an individual. Someone who is unique and original and quirky. Someone who is worth getting to know. My struggle is that I don’t feel like anyone really cares to know who I am or the little things that make me, me. I don’t feel like anyone wants to give up that time. But why? Why am I not good enough to occupy someone’s time or thoughts?

When asked to describe myself certain things come to mind. Often things that I can’t or don’t see the point in changing. I am short. I am white. I am American. I am a redhead. I wear glasses. Then there are characteristics that I consider to be “me,” but they aren’t always present. I am talkative. I am sweet. I am opinionated. I am blunt. I am energetic. Then there are the quirks. I can’t cook. I go to my car to feel safe. I cut my fingernails every other day. I drool anytime I lay my head down. I eat cupcakes upside down.

I feel like I am a good person who is interesting to be around. Don’t get me wrong, I have five best friends, a small handful of good friends, and then an abundance of acquaintances. Besides my best friends, most of them don’t know my quirks and when describing me would give very different characteristics.

They say that to be true to who you are, you have to be the same person everywhere. Well that is way more difficult than it sounds. I morph with my surroundings. If I feel uncomfortable then I grow quiet and fade into the background, but if I feel safe than I am outgoing and open. It is almost impossible to be the exact same person in all situations.

I am in this continual questioning of “why am I not good enough?” and it always leads to these experiments- maybe if I try being the quiet, shy girl then people will like me more; maybe if I try being the overly obnoxious girl then people will want to talk to me; maybe if I come off as the sassy and opinionated girl then people will listen to me. The list goes on, but sadly I still always feel alone, unwanted, and unliked.

So I am still at a loss when people tell me to just “be yourself.” It makes me cringe, because it is, quite possibly, the worst advice ever. I barely even remember who “myself” is these days. What’s the point of sticking with “myself” when people don’t like her?

❤ a girl