This month, I had the honor of contributing to a post-grad blog series for Alpha Omicron Pi!
Link to original: A Piece of the Pi: Guest Blog: The Post-Collegiate Perspective
I am a proud recent college graduate, who made the move from Florida to Boston. I am working at an incredible company, Her Campus Media, which empowers and inspires me to the best version of myself. To no surprise, AOII continues to be there for me. I currently live with another AOII alumna that I connected with through the Boston AOII Alumnae Chapter (which I am a proud member of!)
However, this time last year I had no idea that this is where I would be. I was nervous to leave my USF bubble, scared because I didn’t know what my dream job was (or where), excited about all of the possibilities, and overall confused. By this point, I had a strong GPA, confidence, and a packed resume of involvements – what more could qualify me for a job? Well, it was 2 months before graduation and I had no offers.
So I started to hustle. I spent my last spring break in Boston exploring a potential new home, and even landed an interview! I began applying and interviewing at jobs in Boston and New York. Then, June came along and I still had no offers. I began to explore the possibility that this was meant to happen; the more time that went by without a job, the more I realized how much I needed a detox.
The twist was getting a job offer in June from an incredible company. I ended up making a tough decision to stay home because financially, physically and mentally I needed a break . . . but I didn’t stop searching. I wanted to lift my spirits, so I applied to Her Campus Media. Her Campus easily fits my two passions: College and brands. Plus, I was involved with the Her Campus chapter at USF so I was a true fan.
2 weeks later, I was set to enjoy my summer at home, working at the summer theatre camp I grew up at, before a big move to Boston in August. All of the job search stress was over, and everything worked out.
First piece of advice: Don’t be afraid to slow down and process what you really want. It is tempting to take the first job that comes, but the most important factor is your happiness.
Below are 5 more pieces of advice for making the most out of your college experience and your post-college path.
I know you’ve heard this so many times, but I mean it! College is overwhelming with so many things to get involved with, and honestly not enough time. Going Greek and taking classes can be enough on your plate, but I challenge you to run for as many positions as you can – and also branch out as much as you can. Find an on-campus job, give back to your university (as a university ambassador, as a tour guide…), or volunteer in the community on the weekends. When you get to your first job interview, you will have plenty of stories on success and challenges to share. Also, meeting new people will get you so far in life.
Advice #2: Know yourself
Ever heard that you can’t love others until you love yourself? Well you also can’t get a job unless you would hire yourself. It is so important to know your strengths and weaknesses. StrengthsQuest changed my life. This is essentially a personality test that will tell you your top 5 strengths, so you can focus on them, and not struggle trying to fix your weaknesses. I’ve used my strengths to pick the right partners for projects, apply for the right jobs/positions, and to talk about myself confidently in interviews. If you have taken this test, really read the awesome research on your findings. If you haven’t – I suppose you have a new assignment!
Go here to get started: http://www.strengthsquest.com/
Advice #3: Prepare your personal brand
It is never too early (or late!) to prepare your personal brand. You should be able to show that you’re the amazing, qualified person that you are. To start, I highly encourage you to visit your university’s career center, or a local one if that’s not an option. Also, get on LinkedIn (and use it!) Junior year, I thought about how awesome it would be to do communications for NPC. So I looked up the job, found Jules Schenk (current NPC Marketing & Events Manager) on LinkedIn, and messaged her. This led to an amazing phone call about her career. She is so wonderful and really motivated me to stick with my passions. Thanks, Jules, if you see this! Other Panhellenic women that have inspired my personal brand are Lori Hart and Ginny Carroll — thank you ladies, too!
Advice #4: “Test the Water”
In summer 2013, I interned at GolinHarris in NYC. As a PR major, it was always a dream to spend a summer in the city that never sleeps. Use your college summers to your advantage! Take an internship – whether in a new state, or in your hometown. Reach out to anyone you know (local alumnae chapters, for example) who can help you get your foot in the door. An internship will give you experience and clarity. This internship solidified that I want to continue bringing brands to life in meaningful ways. I also stay in touch with my advisor! P.S. there are actually plenty of paid internships; you just have to do your research.
Advice #5: Do What’s Best for You
I have to stress how important my summer at home was. I knew I was going to move out of Florida (after this winter, you may think I’m crazy), so I wanted the time with my family and friends. I also wanted the time to relax after my full plate in college. You’re going to make so many tough decisions in your life, so make sure the first one toward your career is a smart one!
Overall, graduating is something to be proud of, because education is priceless! Also, it is important to have a work-life balance. I recently accepted a volunteer position as a Campus Relationship Manager for the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation to keep me grounded. I am extremely work happy and that makes me overall happy. It’s true that when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life!
So best wishes to all my sisters who are about to graduate, and to those who are still figuring out their next steps. Please reach out to me for any more advice; I’d love to be that friend when you need a friend.