Seizing My Opportunity
Last week, I was telling everyone how I had ended my college career standing on a pedestal of uncertainty. I didn’t know where I was going to go or what I was going to do. I wanted a job in the field of journalism but I was afraid of having to settle for something else just to pay the bills.
Thankfully, I had one option open to me. The direction my future would go rested on this one hand. I was all in. Would I hit a black jack or go bust?
I had first applied for this job in March, a few months before I was set to graduate. The difficult part of trying to find a job while still in school is that most employers want you to start as soon as possible. They don’t want to hire you and then have to wait six months for you to graduate.
But if you start to look for and apply for jobs too late then you run the risk of having to go through a long process of applying, interviewing, getting turned down and repeating the process. That’s probably a good reason why it takes most graduates 4-6 months to find a full time job.
Anyway, I got a head start and had applied for a job as a reporter at a medium sized magazine. It had some key points that drew me to it. It was located in a place that didn’t get snow (that pretty much sold me right there) and it was a place that wasn’t losing subscribers, it was gaining them. Not that many papers can say that anymore.
I was selected for a phone interview and it went pretty well, especially since it was my first interview for a professional job. For about three nerve racking weeks I waited to hear back…and waited. Then I waited some more.
Finally, I heard back and had been selected as one of three candidates they were going to fly down for an in person interview. Since I had to come during the week and I couldn’t just bail on my classes right before finals we agreed to let me come after graduation.
So on Saturday I graduated. On Sunday I moved all my things back into my parent’s house. On Monday, I was on a plane to see what my future would hold.
The next day I went in for the interview, which lasted all day and was more of a ‘this is what we do here let’s see if you make a good fit’ type of interview. I thought it went pretty well but really had nothing to judge my experience on. I went back home and was told I could expect to hear from them in a few days.
About two weeks passed, and I’m a little worried. I still hadn’t heard back either way and my funds were running a little low. I was a little dispirited at this point.
I had let everything rest on this one job and I didn’t even know how much it paid because if it didn’t pay enough for me to live on my own and also be able to handle my student loans when they were due, then I couldn’t accept it anyways.
I was caught between waiting or finding a part time job while I started the job search process all over again.
Finally, my phone rang one day and I got the job offer. It had better benefits than I could have hoped for and I would get paid enough to cover all my bills and I would have enough over to live on easy mac instead of ramen.
I wouldn’t be going on any crazy shopping sprees any time soon but it was enough to get by. I accepted it right on the spot (I had enough time to think it all over that I didn’t need time to make my decision).
Afterwards, I figured out what made me stand out enough to make them want me on their team. I share it hoping that I can help anyone who is having a difficult time finding and interviewing for a job.
Even though I was nervous before going into the interview and I wanted to make a good impression without being a stiff, unimaginative, corporate robot, I decided I was just going to be myself. I answered everything honestly (without making myself look bad) but when I did I made sure I was showing who I was with those answers instead of sounding like a script I had practiced.
Most importantly, I asked questions. The best advice I can give is come up with a lot of questions, even if they are small. If you don’t ask any questions then the employer assumes you don’t even care enough about the job to learn more about the company and people you will be working for.
I also made sure they were questions that couldn’t be answered on their website and showed that I took time to think about it. For example, I didn’t ask how big their circulation numbers were when I can find that information on a number of sites.
Instead, I asked how they are handling the impact of social media on their paper and how they are managing to keep readers going to their paper instead of the internet.
I also asked about the opportunity to gain more responsibilities and moving up in the pecking order, just to show that I planned on being there for a while to build my career.
There are thousands of tips and guidelines out there to help with the process of finding a job but for me I think it’s simple.
Be honest, be yourself and think outside the box.