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!

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

Visiting Home Is Like Staring At A Pitchfork

no explanations

It had been about a month since I had been home, so going back this past weekend was a mix of feelings. Home is one of my favorite places to be, but I wasn’t enjoying all of the memories this time around. Yesterday, I was having a fantastic day spending time with my mom and then my phone lights up with a response to a group message and my whole day goes downhill from there.

Two words. That’s all it took to spin my mind into all different kinds of directions. Two stupid words from one specific person. I wish people’s actions and non-actions didn’t affect me so much, but honestly I can’t help it. Well late that night I was coming home from a birthday party that didn’t help my mindset at all and I ended up in my high school parking lot.

I just sat there in my car staring at this building that holds so many memories. It was like staring at a pitchfork. The left prong signifies what I used to dream my life would look like. The right prong signifies how I currently dream my life will look like. The middle prong signifies how my life is actually going. Sadly as I looked at this picture, my life doesn’t seem to be looking at all what I hoped or what I hope it would. Then I lost it.

There are days I just feel so lost. My college experience sucks. My friends are all excelling and changing. My family is constantly growing together and then falling apart. My mind is a warzone. Most days I don’t know who I am or where I am going. I just feel stuck and alone and pathetic. I desperately want some kind of direction and an identity.

As I sat there in that parking lot, I thought a lot about the girl who used to walk those halls. I thought about her smile, her laughter, her attitude, her friends, her dreams. I thought about how one of my friends told me that she missed the old me, the one who was her best friend. Then I lost it all over again. That girl wasn’t always all smiles and sass… she had many nights of tears and many walks alone in the park; she was just better at hiding it.

I don’t think I can be that girl again. So much has happened since I was 14, a wide-eyed freshman, and 18, a hopeful senior. I can’t just go back and forget all that has happened to me, all that I have felt, all that I have been told, all that has surfaced… it has scarred me and shaped me. I don’t think I can be that girl again, but what does that mean for me?

❤ a girl

Friendship Is What You Make It

friendship

I have this friend and for awhile now I have referred to her as my obligatory friend. This sounds really mean, but I felt I was only her friend, because I had to be and if I would have met her now, I don’t think we would have gotten along. You see, our moms became friends at church when we were about a year old and so we did everything together when we were younger. Then as we got older we kind of grew apart. We were raised differently and were into different stuff. To start things off, I went to public school and she was home-schooled which was cause for me knowing things that she didn’t. For awhile it was just weird.

But we always stayed “friends”. I would come to her birthday parties and go spend time with her over the summer. She was always that friend that I could hang out with and drop a few notches in maturity without caring. She ended up moving to Oklahoma my senior year of high school, so I didn’t see her as often. Some people would say she went off the deep end and rebelled against what she had been taught, because she grew up in such a strict Christian home.

Well she has been through a lot in figuring out who she is and what she wants. Although she hadn’t always been forthcoming with information about these struggles, I still felt it was my duty to be her friend. She needed someone and no one else seemed to be there. I found out last night that she had moved back to Texas to live with her grandparents and I decided I needed to get in touch with her. I contact her mom to make sure the information was true and to get her current cell phone number.

I texted her a couple times asking if she wanted to get together today, but never received an answer. I decided to just go over there, because that it what I would want someone to do for me. I showed up at her house and she was still asleep. Her grandma let me in and walked to her room and entered without knocking. She slowly opened her eyes and I told her to get up, because we were going to lunch. She got around and then we left.

It blew my mind how people can be so different and be apart for so long, yet fall right back to where they were at some point. My friend, Kayla, never even questioned why I was there. I like to think it is because she knows I will always be there to pick her up and remind her she worth so much more than she gives herself credit for.

Our lunch was pleasant. She told me about some of her struggles, why she moved back, and what her plans were. We talked boys and swapped bad date stories. It was just so normal and I needed to be reminded that she is just a person searching for acceptance and love like the rest of us. We ended up stopping by a bookstore and sharing a few laughs and I realized that although we may dress and act differently, we still have a history of inside jokes and trust between the two of us and that isn’t going away.

I came away from this spontaneous afternoon understanding that any friendship is what you make it. You can have lots of friends or just a few, but the effort and time and trust that you put into it is what you are going to get out of it. I want to work harder at being a better friend.

❤ a girl

Born to be Alone

lonely

Are some people born to be alone?

Are some people born to be single?

There are days when I can be surrounded by people, but feel so unnoticed. There are days when all I want to do is participate in activities that don’t require interaction with others. There are days when crowds and compliments push me so far over the edge.

There are days when I think that I was meant to be alone and there is nothing I can do about it.

I am an introvert, so being alone doesn’t necessarily bother me, but when I think about the future, I can’t help, but assume it is just going to be me.

I like to read, watch TV, think, knit, scrapbook… these are all things that most people do alone. I am adamant about adopting my children… maybe I am so passionate about adoption, because it doesn’t require having a significant other. I’ve never been one to obsess over my future wedding… possibly because I don’t think I’ll ever have one.

Lately I feel that there are so many signs that maybe I was just made to be alone and single my entire life. Sure, I have friends, but at some point they have to go home, get their own lives, have their own kids. Of course I will happy for them, but I wonder where the difference between them and me is.

I am always told that there is someone out there for me. That I need to be patient. That I need to be confident. But do they realize that I have been alive for twenty years and I have been on one date, had one guy say that I was cute, and have had no boyfriends. I can’t help but wonder why? Why am I not worth it?

Sometimes I get frustrated with the people who have what I want tell me what I need to do to make it happen. It’s not like I do anything wrong. I love myself (for the most part). I am confident (for the most part). I have standards. I don’t live under a rock. I put myself out there (for the most part). But ever since I can remember I was just never that girl and now I feel that maybe I am just meant to be content in being alone.

Could this be true? Is this a bad thing? Can I change it?

❤ a girl