January 29, 2018

GUEST ROOM | What’s After Graduation?

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The job market can certainly be a brutal process, especially for us recent grads. I’ve recognized that the process of being “burned out” either reverses hope or makes you stronger. As some of us are meant to bloom later than others, it’s important to focus past any hurdles you’re facing to the best of your ability, to share your struggles with others as much as possible, and to recognize when you’re feeling depleted.

And yes, these past few months have been tough, but I’m very humbled (and actually empowered) to share that it took me eight months to acquire my first full-time job offers from some of my favorite companies. Though I still have decisions to make, I wanted to share some wisdom for my friends who are soon to graduate, or still feel trapped in the job market.

More than attaining a job, I’ve become thankful for the experiences I’ve gained from the job acquisition process itself: interviewing with and meeting employers from my favorite industries. Without doing so, I wouldn’t have gained the insight and charisma I’d need to tackle the next interview with all the more strength. For instance: networking, figuring out the nuances behind a technical role, productivity hacks, understanding what makes an employer tick, selling yourself, understanding market needs and foreseeing a company’s growth are just as important as understanding the context of a role and your career goals. This is not something I learned during college.

With this being said: take advantage of career services, mock interviews, resume critiques and job fairs as much as possible! If you’re already graduated, take advantage of every interview you’re called for. Rather than focusing on X employer, try to focus on understanding the steps of the hiring process rather than being hired. Don’t focus on the fact that you’re not being called, focus on why.

My recipe is this: failure, patience and resilience. Try, pick yourself up, refine your existing technique, get the most from your interview by interviewing the employer, study your strengths and weaknesses, put your best face forward again, stay up to date in your field (and keep learning), take care of yourself and take plenty of breaks to recharge again.

And yes, that’s a lot. But this was the exact cycle my friends watched me go through. And I wouldn’t have made it this far without them.

So, if you’re a recent grad or job seeker: don’t ever give up! If you made it this far and are currently still trying, consider yourself an expert. And as you continue to research, apply and interview for that dream job, remember it’s just as important to recognize when it’s time for a deep breath, reward yourself for all your hard work and stay strong. If you’re not hired, it’s not about you. If you focus on yourself and getting stronger, everything will come together at the right time because it’s meant to be — not because you’re simply an asset.

Laureen Andalib graduated from the School of Architecture, Art and Planning in 2017. Guest Room runs periodically.