Tag Archives: graduate

The Ups and Downs of Finding a Job


In response to my last post, where I claimed I was finally feeling settled into my new home, the universe decided to take me down a notch.

Up until now, my job search has been pretty relaxed. I sift through the postings on all of the job boards I can find, trying to find something remotely related to what I want to do. When I see something, I apply. My boyfriend is very supportive, and our savings are healthy enough that we’re not financially desperate yet, so I feel like I have a little bit of time to put into finding the right job for me.

I spent six years working in the service industry, all through high school and college. I worked as a dishwasher for a nunnery, a caller for market research, a grocery store cashier, and more. I know better than to expect to land my dream job right away, but after all of the jobs I’ve had so far, I’d be happy now with a position that allows me to grow professionally and doesn’t make me dread going to work every day. I want a career, not just a job.

I’ve faced a few problems. First, there aren’t a lot of journalism jobs. The pool becomes even smaller with the fact that I’m not willing to move away from my partner for a job (insert cliché about love here). I’ve tried to get around this by looking for any position that wants someone with great communication skills or knowledge of public relations. But this leads to the second problem: nearly every job, even the “entry level” ones, wants someone with at least a year’s worth of experience.

After four weeks of looking and several rejections, I came across a job that was as close to perfect as I could hope. It was a reporting job with a weekly newspaper for a nearby community, and they encouraged everyone to apply. So I fixed up my resume, wrote one of my best cover letters to date, attached two writing samples and sent it all along.

Less than a week later, I got a call for an interview. It was for a reporting job at a different publication within the same media company. The office was further away than the original position I had applied for, but it didn’t matter. Reporting jobs are hard to come by, so I was elated that I had earned an interview at all, and I felt confident that by showing up well prepared I could sell myself as a great employee.

For 24 hours, I was a delightful wreck. I was nervous and excited and anxious and eager.

The night before the interview, I received a call saying that it had been cancelled. I tried not to let my disappointment show in my voice as the hiring manager explained that the company had decided not to fill the position at this time. He reassured me he would call me when the company changed its mind, and I thanked him sincerely.

After we hung up, my boyfriend asked me who had called. I felt stupid for starting to cry while answering him, but I couldn’t stop myself. It had been such a high getting that first call and it was heartbreaking to get the second.

Starting your career is hard. It means not only knowing what you want, but knowing where to look to find it. It means getting very comfortable writing cover letters. It means having a dozen different versions of your resume saved to your computer. It means being patient but not lazy. It means getting used to rejection. It means not getting your hopes too high while not losing hope all together.

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Decisions, Decisions


By Nicole Hosette

Many post-grads make plans to move somewhere new after college. They move back in with their parents, take a job in a new place, or simply decide to take up residence somewhere fresh. In my case, the decision to move from Iowa to the Boston area took months to make, and I didn’t make it alone.

I mentioned in a previous post that I recently moved to Massachusetts with my boyfriend, Peter. We both graduated in May. He knew he wanted to get his PhD in physics, while I knew I didn’t want to go to grad school (at least right away). And after being together for four years, we knew we wanted to be somewhere new together. So it made sense that I would follow him wherever he went to school.

In December of last year, he started applying for grad school. It was a crazy, stressful time for him, as it meant filling out forms, writing essays, and securing letters of recommendation on top of his heavy course load. He applied to nearly ten schools, both Ivy League and state universities.

He got into his safety schools, and to his relief, most of his top picks as well.

In the end, the decision came down to two schools, University of Chicago, or Harvard. So we made a massive pro/con list and took everything we could think of into account – locations, cost of living, family factors, crime, job opportunities for me, and each school’s respective physics program.

For a month, he changed his mind at least every other day. I was pulling for Chicago from the beginning – I had spent a lot of time there, both visiting and inhabiting, so I knew the city’s offerings and limitations. I knew that my job prospects would be decent, and that I already loved living there. I knew it would be cheaper to live there and that I would be able to easily make the three hour drive back to Iowa to see my family and friends. But I also knew that Chicago would be my ideal place to “settle,” and I didn’t want to settle yet.

Eventually Peter made his decision, and he wanted to go to Harvard. The physics program would give him more opportunities. And, as he admits, he is a kind of nomad at heart, so he was getting restless in the Midwest. He already knew what Chicago had to offer and wanted a place with completely new opportunities.

In time, he convinced me that Massachusetts was right for us. We made budgets to make sure we could live off of his grad-student stipend in case my job search went badly. We took note of all of the cultural offerings of Boston (which excited the historian in me). I knew I wouldn’t be unhappy there, and I knew he would regret it if we didn’t go. So we went.

Our relocation wasn’t easy, but so far I don’t regret it. I hate that most of our friends are still together in Iowa City while I’m here basically alone. But I know that time will fix that. I miss having my car, but I like that I can walk practically anywhere I need to go. I absolutely love all of the things to do in my new place, and all of the new things I can try.

Be warned: even if you’re ready for it, making a move this huge will probably be hard. And, if you’re anywhere near as indecisive as I am, the decision will be just as difficult. But you’re a post-grad now – in theory, you have tons of opportunities ahead of you, even if the job market seems to disagree.

Maybe that’s me being the optimist, but for now, I’m going to take advantage of the fact that I haven’t had that beaten out of me yet.

Introducing Mr. Lawver


By Bryan Lawver

I may have learned a lot of things in my undergraduate career, but there is only one thing that I learned after graduation: the world does not revolve around me.

I was always considered smart by my teachers, always earning what I wanted with a minimum amount of struggle, so I assumed that my good luck would continue into “the real world” after graduation.  Oh, what a fool I was.

I graduated with a B.A. in photojournalism in May of 2010, and though I knew that I was going into a notoriously difficult field, I expected an entry-level job by the end of the year, and then I would consider graduate school after a couple of years. The plan, as any post-grad can imagine, went awry quickly.

As soon as I graduated, I went to Iceland with a friend from school. We needed something to signify our accomplishment, and we could really, really use a vacation. In the weeks leading up to our trip, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano began to stir. The tremendous eruption stranded hundreds of travelers, us included. I being a writer and my friend a photographer, we considered this a turn of good luck – our first post-graduation assignment. I’ll save the details or another day, but things did not go as planned, and we were unable to sell anything that we shot or wrote on the trip. This, while being a relatively minor setback considering that the opportunity just fell into our laps, was my first sign that maybe things would not go as smoothly as I had hoped.

After returning home disappointed, I assumed that without school to worry about I could devote all of my time to finding a job. I was almost right; I devoted all of my time to trying to find a job. Over a hundred resumes later, I was still working in a coffee shop, scouring the Internet for jobs daily. I got a few offers. I did some freelance work, sometimes finishing the work and not getting paid. I was also offered a real, full-time job. I would transcribe news broadcasts for closed captioning television. The job was 40+ hours per week, the commute was an hour each way, and the pay was less than what I made at the coffee shop.

So I took a step back. I must be doing something wrong, I thought. I made lists of all the jobs I was offered. I crossed off jobs with no pay, or that required more experience than I possessed. Maybe one out of every ten jobs was left. And what were they offering? The chance to write product descriptions on eBay; to send out spam e-mails; to churn out content for scammy-looking blogs offering get-rich-quick schemes and vitamin pills for dogs.

This was not what I went to school for. I didn’t work for four years just to write about things that I neither cared about nor believed in. I didn’t spend all that time, only to get a job with a salary that I couldn’t live on, for work that I couldn’t live with.

So, then, what did I go to school for?

I wanted to expand our understanding of the world; I wanted to write something that would make a difference in someone’s life, to stand up for things I believed in and to – as the old saying goes – give a voice to the voiceless.

The standard says that you have to earn the right to do what you want to do for a living. You have to fight your way up the ladder to get to the moment where you are the one calling the shots. But that standard is badly in need of revision. Why keep trying to climb the ladder when even the undesirable bottom rung is out of reach?

If I wanted to succeed, instead of clawing my way to the top, I would have to find a side door.

I decided to skip ahead a few years on my plan to attend grad school. Cue the long and grueling application process, several sleep-killing months of waiting for admissions decisions, and finally getting into the school of my choice.

It is now about 16 months since I finished my undergraduate studies, and my first graduate classes start in 3 weeks. Check back often and I will do what I can to enlighten you in the process of going back to school, getting into the school of your choice, and surviving once you get there.

Of Carpets and The Teenager


By sendmeonmyway101

(I apologize for the lack of posts this week. The past few days have been busy-bee days around the house, and I haven’t had time to sit down).

The carpets that originally came with our house were unpleasant, flat, and grimy. Over the past few years most of the carpets have become stained with paint, soda, cat and dog pee, and other questionable liquids.

Kyle and I pulled out the carpets in our rooms years ago. We both found that the carpet glue riddled linoleum put down by the original owners back in the fifties was easier to clean than the rugs had ever been. Similarly, the rug in our living room was pulled up a year ago, and replaced with a gleaming hardwood floor.

We have two other rooms in our house – Michael’s, and our parents. On Saturday it was time to replace the rug in our parent’s room.

I had been excited to work on the project ever since my dad and I remodeled the closet in their bedroom. My dad, apparently, had different ideas. He had imagined finishing off remodeling their room with Kyle. Some father-son bonding thing that I can’t exactly say I understand.

But I ended up getting what I wanted.

My dad and I, as always, were the first two awake. We finished moving the furniture out of the rents’ room and into Michael’s, and then we pulled up the old rug and threw it out back.

Kyle, in his infinite wisdom, had pulled an all-nighter (playing games or watching TV shows, or something like that) Friday night, and thus was incapable of coherent thought when my dad and I crept in there Saturday morning. Since our sun porch is full of wasp nests, and I’m terrified of things that fly (and the night before our dad had mowed the lawn and pissed off a couple of yellow jackets nearby), we decided that it would be Kyle’s job to put the rug into the sun porch. (If I were still in college, it is likely that the smelly old rug would have been crowded into my room).

Kyle’s two syllable response to our 9am wake-up call was a sleepy, “Goodnight.”

My dad and I were on our own.

But the long day wasn’t too bad, and even Michael pulled himself from his sheet-cocoon (surprisingly not at 7pm) to help us first place the padding over the cement floor, and then to lay down and even out the new rug.

Once the rug was finished, we went to work on nailing down the new baseboard and paneling around the closet. All the work was finally completed around 7pm. Just in time for me to drive Michael to his friend’s house for a cookout. (Mind you, we had pizza and hot wings sitting on the table since 5:30 waiting for us to finish up and eat it).

That was when The Teenager struck again.

Michael wanted me to drive him to his friend’s house, and pick him up with enough time for him to get home by 8. I tried to explain to the boy that by the time I dropped him off, and got back home, I would have to turn around again and pick him up. I tried to tell him he was unreasonable, and at least make him agree to staying two hours. He refused.

Exhausted and starving, I finally caved, dropping him off and heading back home. I had hoped to steal a piece of pizza before leaving the house again, but instead I helped my dad move a few things around. Then –back to the road.

Except when I tried to pick Michael up, he informed me that he was staying an extra hour.

I think the fact that I did not strangle the boy says something about my character.

(CHECK OUT SOME OF THE PHOTOS!)

Fish Killer Follow-Up and Other News


Toby (stripes) and Tucker

I think it’s only fair to let all you “Lessons From a Fish Killer” readers know how Toby’s tale of survival has played out so far. You’ll be happy to know that after seven days of living alone, sole companion his reflection in the aquarium glass (which he spent an unnatural amount of time with), he now has a brother!

We introduced Tucker into the tank yesterday afternoon, and the two have gotten along swimmingly! (Really? That was corny). Tucker is also an angelfish, and even though I wanted a tank full of fish, I’ve decided to stop with just the two right now. The woman at the fish store said that angelfish can grow pretty large, and any more than two may be too much for the tank in a few months. Besides, I don’t want them to start eating each other. I may decide to pick up a cat fish to help with the tank upkeep, but I’m going to hold off on that one for a little while.

I do have a couple of questions about fish maintenance, and I’m hoping someone may have the answers.

  1.  Besides water conditioner, is there anything else that belongs in the tank?
  2.  How often should tanks be cleaned out and refilled?

In other news, I went to the local Brewfest yesterday. Back in June I got a gig (without pay) writing an article every two weeks for an online magazine based in Central New York. Most events I review have been free, but this required my first press pass. Beforehand I contacted the creator – and man in charge of the event. I was pleased with most of the information that he provided regarding how the Brewfest started. But let’s face it – articles are nothing without pictures, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a quote or two from the general public.

I’ve discovered that my skills at approaching people are incredibly pathetic. For some reason, rather than reassuring people that I’m not a creeper – this is legit – I just make them look at each other like, “WTF is this chick doing?” They almost always say, “Sure,” but it’s long and drawn out, as if they’re saying “sure,” but they’re thinking, “hell no.”

Not that it matters, I suppose. I got my quote and moved on. Still, it would have been nice to find someone who was anxious to share their past experiences and what they thought about the Brewfest. But then again, it was Brewfest, and everyone was getting pretty tipsy.

On the home front, my father and I are getting ready to start one of our final remodeling projects of the summer. Since I came home we’ve been doing work in my parents’ bedroom – rebuilding the closet (my favorite part so far), putting trim at the top and bottom, putting in a new ceiling fan, etc. Now we’re going to pull up the nasty old rug and put down a new one. This isn’t my first time pulling up a rug – a few years ago I pulled my own rug out of my room, though I have yet to put a new one down. My father has pulled the rug out of the living room and put down wood flooring. We both have some experience, but our opinions on the project differs. I’m excited to pull the rug up, whereas my father isn’t so thrilled. He’s anticipating a lot of work in a few hours, because he would prefer to have the rug up and down in the same day.

Me? I don’t see the fault in spanning the project over two days, but he’s the task manager. Anyhoo, the project starts next week, provided the rug comes in on time.

Foot in the Door, Tossed On Your Bum Part 1


By sendmenonmyway101

My past few posts haven’t been as hopeful – or helpful – as I had wanted them to be, so today I think I’m going to recount my first ‘real world’ interview. Hope this gives some of you a clear picture!

It was the end of June, and I was surprisingly giddy that morning; even though I had gotten up at 4:30 am to make the three hour drive to Buffalo. I may have downed two whole bottles of 5hr energy by the time I bounced onto the elevator, so I suppose being giddy explains itself. I spent the whole car ride into town going over potential questions, and my best answers. Then I begged the interview gods that I wouldn’t forget them.

I was aware of the interview for a week before hand (after surviving the phone interview), but the only person I had mentioned it to was Kyle. I didn’t want my parents to get their hopes up for me, and then be disappointed when I didn’t get the job. In the end I caved – unable to think of a good enough reason for why I would be getting up at 4am (well, I came up with some pretty good reasons, but I wanted some advice from my Dad, and when I told him he insisted I tell my Mom).

I had gone to bed late the night before – not my best idea, but I was up gathering as much research as possible on the people I would be meeting with. I could tell you who graduated from what university, with what degree, and exactly what their extra-curricular activities were. Creepy, I know (the fact that I was able to find this information so readily, and the fact that I memorized it), but I wanted to be prepared.

I knew I was going to have to step my whole game up a notch, so I dressed in one of the outfits I had bought specifically for post college interviews almost two years ago (fortunately, the pants and shirt still fit – black slacks and a beige blouse).

I was there for an office position where, if I had gotten the job, I would be responsible for handling customers, answering questions about the software, and editing the surveys (it was a survey company. Not exactly my first choice, but I was impressed with what the company aimed to do – forge a bridge between college students and the faculty/staff that affect their education).

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I could feel the vomit building its way back up my intestines. Hell, I could taste the stomach acid burning in the back of my throat.

I swallowed it back as a woman guided me inside. The main work area was small but open. No cubicles. I was deposited into a glass conference room off to the side, and left alone.

Someone had once told me that employers will leave potential employees alone for a few extra moments just to psych them out. With this in mind, I tried focusing my thoughts on anything other than my nerves.

First I tapped my fingers along the counter top, marveling at how small I was in comparison to the bulky, tall table. I wished there was a telephone book or two to prop me up.

The novelty of the table lasted only a few moments, and I was soon distracted by the notes scribbled all across the dry erase board. With nothing else to do, I tried to memorize what was on the board, as if I would be quizzed on it, or something.

Finally the HR rep who had originally contacted me stepped into the room with a warm smile.

READ PART 2 Tomorrow Evening

Updates


It may only be Day Three in our little excursion, but Sauce Off has gotten an impressive start. Here are just a few things you can expect in the coming weeks:

1. A week from today we will introduce our new bloggers
2. We will feature an article from bowski477 of Aesthetically-Pleezin.com, chronicling her online success following graduation
3. College senior KB will update us on her hopes and fears as she prepares to enter her final year
4. We will visit several colleges to see what questions they have for Post Grads
5. Twice a week we will feature a new Post Grad with an internet presence (if you are interested in being featured, please email the link to your blog/website/web show/etc. to sauceoffjournal@gmail.com)

And there will be plenty more. Remember, we’re still looking for guest bloggers, and new articles. (other forms of media will also be considered). Some thing’s we are interested in – recent grads (within the past two years) who are also parents/about to become parents, grads who have successfully navigated the job market, grads attenting grad school, grads engaged, grads who realized they want to do something different than what they obtained their degrees in, unsuccessful journey’s through the job market, students who started college and for one reason or another dropped out, traveling grads, advice from professors and employers, etc.

All submissions must be directed to sauceoffjournal@gmail.com. They may be no longer than 650 words and must be accompanied by a brief (2-3 sentences) summary of the author. People who are not recent Post Grads can still submit articles, so long as material involves Post Grad life in one form or another. And please, don’t be intimidated.

-Chris Bahrens

Sauce Off aims to educate current and future students on life after graduation. If you are worried, excited, or even confused, Sauce Off is here to answer your questions – and remind you that you are not alone.

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