A Post Grad Journey

Post Grad Journey- self explanatory. Cheers to the Future!
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Life of a working woman? WORK=WORK. There really isn’t much else to it. I’ve been working my new job since mid-August, just over about six weeks now and I don’t have time for much else. I never really understood why my parents were tired every weeknight, or people didn’t do anything crazy during the weeks when they have full-time jobs. I always compared it to my life as a student: go to school a few hours a day (spread out of course) worked a few four hours shifts at my part-time job a week, a few sorority functions a few times a week, sat around my house with my roommates watching movies and going on facebook until 1 or 2am on weeknights, and drinking and partying with my friends whenever we didn’t have to get up early the next morning. I was able to do it constantly for four years without ever thinking twice.

It’s amazing how fast I can forget that lifestyle. A big part of this may be my near 2 hour commute each way to work everyday, leaving me no choice but to wake up before 6am every morning and get home after 7pm every night. Leaving me a small window in the evenings for dinner, TV and sleep. 5 days a week. I look forward to the day when it will only take me 30 minutes tops to/from work (but in LA who are we kidding?). But either way this is the life of the full-time employed adult…if I live closer that probably shaves an hour off my commute each way (maybe) giving me an hour or two longer to sleep and hang out in the evening. Which, of course, I would never complain about; bring on that extra sleep! But it’s funny how priorities change. 

Living at home with my parents is better than I expected it to be. The busy schedule makes it alright, if I were living my college lifestyle here it would never work. But now I do the same thing as my parents every day, we’re all up before sun waiting for the coffee to brew, and arriving at home around the same time hunting in the refrigerator for something to eat for dinner. It’s not weird, it’s just different. Something I wish more of my friends were going through right now…only a handful of my fellow graduates have found full-time employment, but still have the blessing of being in the same city as all of our friends from school. Giving them a social option, one I do not have right now. I could count on one hand (okay two) the number of people I could call to go for a drink or hang out.

Making new friends and even dating, is really difficult with you work 40 hours a week and drive for another 15-20 hours on top of that. It’s not like college where we had constantly changing classes and classmates and clubs, organizations, social functions to meet new people each day. I see the same 20 people at work every Monday-Friday, and have even come to recognize a few lunch regulars at the local lunch spots around town. 

I am very appreciative of my job, I actually really like it and would never want to quit. It’s just a new adjustment…where do I find my balance? How do I mix work, friends, dating, family and just myself? I guess that’s what all adults have been trying to figure out for years… well hopefully I can find the answer!

Today is my last official day of “Summer”. Now I know the summer “season” will arrive promptly every June as it always does…but the summer break is now over. I will forever be a working girl…or an in need of work girl. It’s either I have a job, or I am transitioning to a new one. That is, unless I decide to ditch it all again and go back to school. Who knows, maybe after my first day of work I’ll freak out and enroll in grad school to postpone the real world yet again. 

I made sure today was pretty mellow…sleeping in on weekdays will only happen now when I am either sick or on vacation. And those are only a few days out of the year. So I slept in as long as I could…okay 8:30am, I had a doctor appointment at 9:15. So after my appointment I came home, made a yummy breakfast cheese & jalapeno bagel with cream cheese. Then headed out to my favorite place, the nail salon. Ever since graduation I have a new found love for manicures. It’s really refreshing to have manicured fingers and toesies. I treated myself with the last of my post-grad unemployed allowance to a mani/pedi. Tomorrow I start making my own bucks and paying for my own manicures…so this may be my last one for awhile. 

One thing I am surprised I haven’t done a lot of this summer is tan. You would think with a free and clear schedule would be filled with sunbathing. But, I have been locked away indoors endlessly applying for jobs…which paid off because I’m off to work tomorrow! But I figured I’d soak up some sun before I’m doomed to only weekend tanning hours. 

Now I watch the Giants vs. Braves game on TV while hanging out with my dog. All I have left to do is pick out my first day of work outfit. My best friend suggested I take a photo of myself like on the first day of school. It will be at the crack of dawn, but I think I can manage.

It was a good last day of unemployment, but I am excited to break into the working world and learn a lot! Here’s to…9-5!

I really trust myself now. I honestly believe that last post I wrote, the one about Thank You notes, is very very true. Now I can’t say it’s the only reason, but it sure couldn’t have hurt. But…I got the job!

This company that I had a first interview at over two months ago…then suddenly a second interview and even quicker, a third. My persistence to keep in touch, always sure to express gratitude, and of course the Thank You note. 

In the past, with part-time jobs and internships…I always stick to my instinct. Usually there is always one job in particular that I want among many. I always take my time and explore the options in front of me, but deep down I hope I can get the one I really, truly want of course. I make sure those potential employers know they are my first choice, and it is no lie. And not to sound like I am bragging, but it has always worked out in the end. I interview with others, even get offers for others, but when I stick it out…the right job comes around. Now in this job hunt, this particular company I have been interviewing with all summer…was my first (real big job) interview ever! I needed a bit of exploring to do, to really know this was the job I wanted.

During the summer, I interviewed with several other companies…and even got a job offer. I even accepted the job and began making arrangements for an apartment, etc. But deep down it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. As fate would have it, some details and pay and job length changed…thus, I turned it down. I continued my search, back at home with my parents. Finally…that same company I had my first interview at…which I held a continued interest for…called! The possibility was still alive and I wasn’t going to let it go. I continued to correspond with the company and smile big and act as eager as ever to begin a career with them. Now, it may not be a golden formula for getting hired but I noticed a pattern. I hold out for what I truly want, while at the same time not turning down other opportunities, and good will come in some form. 

For me, this time, it was the job I really wanted. So Hooray! I start this week. Wow, hired one day and working the next. It’s kind of funny, all I’ve wanted since Graduation Day was to find a full time job in the industry I want. I’ve even begged for a part time job recently because I was so bored and wanted something to do. Now, that I know I only have one day of “summer” left, and thus begins my journey as a working woman. Surreal. But here goes nothing! 

This blog may very well turn into not only the Post Grad Journey, but the First Job Journey at the same time.

I’ve always been a fan of Thank You cards and notes. I had been struggling to remember to write them after Christmas or my Birthday. But after Graduation, I knew I had to be sure to send them to everyone, but even with all those cards I still had a lot left over. Now, with this job hunt I’ve been on, I’ve always sent Thank You e-mails to potential employers after interviews or any feedback they give me. But this past week I was invited back to a company for a second interview, and I had already sent the standard Thank You e-mail to this company after my first interview. The interview came and went, and when I came home I typed up that e-mail and fired it off…but I felt I should probably go an extra step. I pulled out my stack of Thank You cards and thought to myself “Everyone always enjoys a nice note in the mail…” so I wrote up two thank you cards to my interviewers and popped them right in the mail that afternoon so they would receive them after the weekend. People always want to know that you appreciate their time, and something as simple as a note or card can go a long way.

So guess what? Just a day after they received those cards in the mail, I got an e-mail from the company inviting me back for a third interview to discuss details and meet a few people from the office. Now I won’t jump to conclusions and say that Thank You card sealed the deal for a prospect of another interview. But I couldn’t hurt!

Even sending a physical Thank You card after just one interview is a smart idea; and a great way to stand out amongst the competition! You never know how many other people are fighting for the same job, and chances are not all of them will be smart enough to follow up or even just Thank the employer for their time. So after this experience I will be sure to send Thank You notes a lot more often!

As I was reading the book noted in a previous post (Getting from College to Career by Lindsey Pollack) there is a section dedicated to your online presence. Most would argue that you should censor yourself online, be sure to hide all inappropriate photos and posts, keep your controversial opinions to yourself and be professional. Although, another argument being made lately; Who are you, online? Some professionals want to see you make yourself seen online, by contributing to discussions, responding to articles, or even blogging yourself. 

I’ve noticed recently that Facebook is trying to step up its game compared to LinkedIn. There’s a feature now called “Branch Out” from BranchOut.com. It takes your Facebook friends’ employers and companies and uses that to connect you to fellow friends of friends, who may work at a company you would like to learn more about! Actually, this seems genius to me. For example, I’d love to work for Conde Nast Publishing one day. Let’s say my friend Jane Doe works for XYZ Company but her next door neighbor happens to work for Conde Nast. Branch Out utilizes these connections to get you “introduced” and help you network to find your dream job or find potential employees for your company. 

Branch Out

BranchOut lets you apply for jobs, recommend friends and associates, earn “badges”, and introduce friends to friends who may have a professional connection. 

Facebook was once the profile most companies would creep in order to dig up some dirt on potential employees. But now Facebook wants to stop that assumption and use it for the better, a networking opportunity. Because let’s be honest here, you probably have more “Friends” on Facebook than you do “Connections” on LinkedIn or Google+. We use our Facebook for social purposes, but why not mix in a few networking opportunities as well? 

http://branchout.com/

http://www.viddler.com/explore/branchout/videos/10/

So this could pose the side of Helpful in the argument of Social Media Profiles. What about the Hurtful? If you are a Twitter user, how are you using it? To post endless updates of what you ate for breakfast this morning and how bored you are at work? If your tweets aren’t protected then beware. A potential employer may find your tweets that say “soooo bored at work today #ihatemyjob #takingalonglunch” then they are definitely going to think twice about hiring you. Even if you do protect your tweets, some companies have their own profiles and may be able to gain access to your own page. We should first think about what Twitter was created for in the first place. Short, sweet, sharing. We have the 140 character limit, we follow our favorite celebs and news sources. Why not retweet a bit more often and throw in your own opinion? Contribute to the #Hashtags and see what’s the popular discussion of the day. 

Facebook Twitter G+

Also, why we’re at it. Just do this and see what happens. Google yourself. You may not find anything just typing in your first and last name. But add in your school, employer or city to your search. You’d be surprised what shows up. And even in the Google Images too. I did this and just a few of my profile photos from a few social networking sites showed up, but you may show up in an a public Facebook album that you didn’t realize was available to world wide web.

I’d say in the end our Social Media profiles are more helpful than they are hurtful. We just have to be aware that we are using them in the most appropriate way. These days, having the skills to know how to blog, Tweet and Facebook are essential. If you’re in the job hunt like me, hide your tagged photos or Facebook or protect your tweets. It may end up costing you an interview or even a job offer. Although, if you wish you keep your name out there, writing a blog or contributing to articles may get you an interview! Employes are out there on the web and if they see what they like, you may have a message in your inbox from someone wanting to put your online skills to use. 

My inspiration for this blog? Mashable of course. 

http://mashable.com/2011/06/19/get-job-using-social-media/

Okay maybe not, but it should be! I am exhausted from day and night searching with little to no results. I have a large excel spreadsheet that has all the jobs I have applied for, followed up, important details, dates, interviews, location, etc. The list is currently at 70 jobs, and rising, quickly. 

I was at Barnes & Noble yesterday looking for a new day planner (because my life is so busy you know) and I stumbled into the Careers section just for kicks. Most of the shelves were filled with books under various versions of the title “How to Write a Winning Resume!” or “Getting Hired After 40” Well, I know I don’t need to read 200 pages on resume tips for $19.95 and I am definitely not over 40. So I moved past those books fast, and then the next large collection I found were books all about Social Networking and Marketing Strategies for Businesses and Brands. It’s surprising how there were literally 5 different books about how to utilize Twitter for your companies benefit. I swear Social Media and Networking will be a college major in the next 10 years.  Then it popped out as if by magic; a book targeted for someone like me! “Getting from College to Career” by Lindsey Pollack. 

Getting from College to Career

Just reading the introduction right there in the middle of the Career section of Barnes & Noble got me hooked. But what really sold me was the first sentence on the back of the book: “How do you get a job without experience and get experience without a job?” That’s it. That is the question I have been asking constantly, and finally…someone else was asking it too! Someone who probably has an answer…and not someone suggesting I just get an unpaid internship because c’mon, we all know companies these days don’t count internships as experience. If they did I would have had a full time job the day after Graduation. 

Well, after purchasing this book and my pretty new leather-bound Moleskine day planner (I gotta be professional you know). I drove straight home to read the rest of this paperback bound wisdom. Pollack is a genius in my eyes. She really gets it, her story is mine minus the Masters Degree. Moved home with Mom and Dad (temporarily of course), mindlessly plugging in “writer” or “media career” into job search data bases with no real bite. Now, I knew this before…but apparently there are other ways to get a job. 90 tips in this one book specifically. I’ve successfully checked off…one. But hey I just bought the book yesterday. I am going to continue my mindless internet job search on the side…but other 50% of my day will be putting these 90 tips into action.

87% of college graduates today move home with their parents post-graduation. Now, we all wish we could be as lucky to be included in the other 13%. But let’s be real, the economy sucks…and probably half of that 13% are still being supported by their parents. So in reality, it’s more like 6% of college grads are making it on their own. So I guess we all can’t feel too bad? 

*I originally posted this on my first tumblr. I have since decided to dedicate a blog to my post grad journey.