LinkedIn, Career Fairs, Unpaid—Oh My

Job searching is one of the most strenuous, time-consuming tasks you’ll face right out of college. Even after months of searching you could still end up a job you hate. But (clichés aside) no experience is a bad one.

ImageJust nine months after graduating from IU, I’m heading up all PR initiatives for my company and clients—and even managing interns. But I didn’t get here easily.

Right out of college, I had dreams of a full-time, salaried position at a glamorous publishing firm in the heart of Chicago. While I found the glamor, I didn’t find the paycheck—at least not at first. For three months I was a valued, albeit unpaid, intern, working harder than I had in any class at IU. (Sorry, Profs.) As much as I didn’t want to go another summer unpaid, that internship put me in the office. And that’s the biggest battle: getting a foot in the door. Once I was in, I was able to build a repertoire with my co-workers and bosses and was hired on full time.

The time I spent refining my writing and gaining client experience helped me get my current position. I started as the communications coordinator at a boutique marketing and ad agency. But because the position called for more than two years of PR experience, I almost didn’t apply. After a moment’s hesitation, I wrote an honest, confident cover letter that spoke to what I knew and ended up landing the job a week later.


Instead of going into too much detail, I’ll leave you with these eight tips:

  1. When it comes to job searching, anything goes. Whether 400 people have already applied or a position requires three years of experience that you don’t have, never count yourself out!

  2. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

  3. Networking is a must. It’s always worth your time to meet people, because you never know who’s in their network. Who you know gets you in the door, but it’s what you know that keeps you there.

  4. Be confident in what you know.

  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. At some point, you’ll likely know nothing about a project. In the real world, it’s always better to ask for help than guess and be wrong.

  6. Move on when you stop learning.

  7. Beer Fridays are a real thing. It’s great—and encouraged—to have fun with co-workers, but never be the last one at the party and always stay one drink behind the rest.

  8. When you’re stressed out think, “Will this matter in five years?” If the answer is no, stop worrying.