From Graduation to Employment, and All of the In Betweens
Company Culture, Entrepreneurs, Opinions, Public Relations Posted May 3, 2019 by Kayla Krause
✅ Final Exams
✅ Order Cap & Gown
✅ Invite Family & Friends
⚪ Apply for Jobs…
Congratulations! You’re done with writing papers, studying for exams, and you are officially ready for the “real world.” But now what?
With graduation season suddenly upon us, it made me think of when I was finishing college and looking for my next move. After finishing my courses and packing up my dorm room, I felt more than ready to take that next step and start my professional career. Little did I know the journey that lay ahead was not as simple as I expected it to be. In honor of those graduating this month and looking to start their first job, I asked my colleagues to share their experiences with me and what advice would they give those who were looking to land their first job out of college.
CHEN PR Perspective and Insights:
My first professional job out of college was empowering. Despite having to do a lot of tedious work initially like entering in sales leads manually and stuffing folders for trade shows, I learned a ton and I met two lifelong friends. Funny enough, they were two of the four people who interviewed me. We were all around the same age, which was fantastic yet weird, but we bonded instantly. It was an entry level marketing job in Boston and it enabled me to work a “9-5pm” job in the lively city, which meant no more nights and weekends waiting tables. I loved waiting tables, but I loved my nights and weekends more. It represented a new chapter. I felt like a true adult. I will say that waiting tables throughout college, I learned to prioritize, problem solve, network and hone my interpersonal skills—all transferable and invaluable skills that last a lifetime.
– Jennifer Torode
My first ‘real’ job after college – not including coaching a boys junior varsity high school soccer team – was at publisher, Horizon House. Focused on several technology verticals, the company’s titles included Microwave Journal, Journal of Electronic Defense and Telecommunications Magazine. Horizon House also had a book publishing division, Artech House, which published engineering textbooks for use in college classes and related training courses.
Harkening back to an age-old story line, I started out in the mail room.
After a few weeks sorting through and delivering incoming mail to the execs and editorial teams – and a range of other tasks nobody else wanted to do – I was asked to cover a customer service phone line in the book publishing division to help them get through a crunch period. I did a sufficiently acceptable job, because they offered me a full-time position after a couple of weeks.
I served in that role for several months, until – serendipitously – I was contacted by a local weekly newspaper I’d applied to previously to see if I’d be up for covering the sports section while the full-time editor took a couple weeks off for vacation.
I jumped at that opportunity. So, for two weeks, I worked my day job at the book publishing company, then in the evenings went to games and related sports events before heading back to the paper to write up my articles. Since the paper didn’t have a staff photographer, I served that function for the sports section, too.
As things turned out, the full-time sports editor was taking more than a vacation. He was excellent at what he did and the Boston Globe noticed that, too. In fact, they’d recruited him away from the local weekly.
Underscoring the benefit of being in the right place at the right time – as well as giving up some sleep in favor of experience – they offered me the full-time gig. I happily accepted, stayed for year and a half, and expanded my responsibilities beyond the sports section to include local news, the senior citizens section (a die-hard demographic for the paper and a blast to cover) and the police beat.
After saving up enough money between the newspaper job and moonlighting as a bartender, I moved to Washington, DC in search of something different.
Little did I know I’d find my career – getting hired as an entry-level PR guy for what then was one of the largest and most important tech trade associations in the country. It was in that role that I was fortunate enough to work for an incredibly talented and supportive boss, who taught me about both technology and strategic communications/public relations.
And I’ve been in the tech PR biz ever since.
My advice to new college grads—Join a professional group.
Graduating students find themselves at a unique disadvantage while job hunting. They rarely graduate school with a professional network they can leverage from the get-go to score job interviews. It came as a hard lesson to learn that many companies are much more apt to give interviews through referrals or personal connections than faceless online applications sent to their HR department.
But this puts many young job seekers in a tricky situation. How can they start growing their own professional network if they’ve never held a job in their field of choice?
The answer I found was professional groups. Similar to academic clubs in high school and college, professional groups meet in their free time to exchange ideas, share resources and host events. A good first step for aspiring PR professionals is to see if they there’s a chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) operating near them. And if there are no organized professional groups in the area, there are less formal professional groups around that could provide value. This is where friend-making sites like MeetUp.com come into play. Sites like these help new job seekers find local groups in the real world that share similar interests – everything from sports and music to book clubs and professional networking. If organized professional groups like the PRSA aren’t your cup of tea, try using MeetUp.com to find a group interested in public relations.
-Doug De Orchis
I thought I had it all together – I had my journalism portfolio ready, my resume was printed a gazillion times, and I had a two-page list of publications I wanted to apply to. I went on countless job interviews and wound up taking a few freelancing jobs writing for local newspapers and magazines before landing my first job as a marketing specialist at a cloud computing startup. Even though I didn’t go to school for marketing, I ended up learning more than I did in any college business class, and I made some connections that have helped me to get to where I am today. It just goes to show that even though you may think you have a plan in place, you never know what a job or a new relationship could bring. I will forever be grateful of my first job, because it led me to CHEN PR.
Advice and first job stories aside, congratulations to all of those graduating this spring. Your hard work has paid off. Enjoy the time before getting into the work force! And if you have any questions or would like some advice, feel free to reach out. We’d be more than happy to chat!