The end of your senior year of college is a strange time. You'll have your degree that you've worked your butt off for in a few weeks but before you get it, you're tasked with finding out what to do after graduation. Lots of students run into this dilemma year after year. The way I see it, there are a few options:
- You can browse around and look for full-time positions that you think you're qualified for even though you'll repeatedly ask yourself: "how am I supposed to get an entry-level job if 1-2 years of experience are required?!"
- You can apply for an internship and hope that it turns into a full-time gig
- You can move back in with your parents and continue to seek out job opportunities, some of which will have nothing to do with your college degree
I was stuck in the crossroads between options 1 and 2 as my senior year of college was winding down. I knew that I wanted to snag a full time job right out of college, but I didn't know how to go about doing that. I wondered if I could apply for jobs that asked for 1-2 years of experience or if that was something I shouldn't do. I wondered if I would even be able to find internships that I was interested in and if any of them would result in a job if I did agree to accept one. Ultimately, I decided to apply to both jobs and internships.
I searched high and low for positions on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster. I prepped my cover letter and resume and filled out several job applications. I would apply for a handful of positions and then apply for a handful more the next day. I had several irons in the fire.
After a week passed, I was receiving lots of responses and even some invitations to set up interviews. I was ecstatic to see that some companies even invited me to interview for full-time positions. I eagerly got out my calendar and started scheduling interview after interview.
My first interview was for a full-time job at a small marketing agency. They were looking for someone to do social media. Based on the research that I did online prior to the interview, I could tell that the company was fairly new. I went to my interview and as the conversation with the team members I met with went on, I could tell that the job wasn't going to be a good fit for me. I didn't feel like it was a good cultural fit and I just wanted a different type of position with different responsibilities overall. I had hoped that this interview wasn't going to set the tone of the rest of my upcoming appointments.
As the rest of my interviews went on, there was one in particular that stood out to me. I interviewed at another small advertising and marketing agency and during my discussion with the staff members that I was met with, they with dropped a few hints that they would have some immediate openings for positions in the near future. When I heard this I became so excited. I let them know that I had availability to be a full-time intern and that I was a detail-oriented person and a hard worker. This position was one of the most promising leads I had and I had a good feeling that if I was offered an internship it could turn in to something more.
After waiting a day or two, I received an email with an internship offer. I decided to weigh all of the pros and cons but after determining that it was the best lead I had, I gladly accepted the internship position and kept my fingers crossed that I would be filling a full-time position very soon. Upon accepting the internship, my two future supervisors and I agreed on a start date after my graduation in May. I was glad that I had a position lined up after graduation and one day after class, I was walking to my car when I checked my voicemail. I received a message asking if I would be willing to come in and work a few Fridays in April (as I didn't have Friday classes) to get up-to-speed on things around the office. I knew that a potential future job was on the line, so I agreed to start work the next Friday.
I worked three Fridays in April and then started working as a full-time intern the first full week after my graduation. I wanted to make a great first impression so I did my best to under promise and over deliver on every assignment given to me. If you read my post on 10 Things Every Entry Level Employee Should Do, you'll know that I discussed how important this is.
On the 8th day of my internship (three Fridays in April and five days in May), my two supervisors called me into a conference room for a meeting. I had no idea what the meeting was going to be about, but I quickly joined them and sat down. They explained that they were really impressed by me and my work ethic and they wanted me to join the team full-time. I was so shocked! I knew that they wanted to add someone to the team, but I didn't think it was going to be so soon. We discussed everything from the job salary to the benefits. After hearing all the details, I let them know that I wanted to think about it and get back to them within the next day.
I discussed the opportunity with my family and my boyfriend (my now husband) and we all thought that it was a good fit for me. So, I decided to accept the job. When accepting the job, I did negotiate my salary. That was one thing that I was pretty adamant about since the offer that they gave me initially was quite low. I knew that I couldn't be greedy since this was my first job out of college but I was able to get an additional $2,000 added on to my salary by simply asking and explaining that I had done my research on current market rates.
I ended up staying at my first job for 10 months before moving on to my next position. I'll provide more details on that decision in a later blog post, but for now I'll leave you with some pointers on what you can do to be a great intern (or just a great employee in general). These are all things I did to go from intern to employee so quickly:
- Carry yourself in a professional manner and always be polite to other coworkers and office visitors.
- Be punctual. Showing up on time to work is extremely important.
- Proofread your emails before sending them and make sure that they include relevant attachments. There is nothing worse than sending an email and forgetting to include an important element.
- If your workload is light, don't be afraid to approach your supervisor(s) and ask if there is anything you can help them with. In most cases, they will be more than happy to delegate and give you some additional things to work on.
- You will most likely have to do some things that you don't exactly enjoy as part of your job. For example, I had to call several media outlets and explain that I would be sending them a press release. Cold calling is the worst, but as long as you make the best of it and speak in a friendly tone on the phone, most people will act friendly back to you.
- Make an effort to get to know your colleagues. Be personable and ask questions to learn more about their lives and their work background.
- Participate in office activities. This will give you another way to bond with your colleagues.
I know that my situation is extremely unique and sometimes people don't get hired on as a full-time employee as a result of being an intern. I think it's ultimately up to each individual person to determine what avenue is right for them to take after graduation. I will say that being prepared and starting your job search ahead of graduation is very helpful.
If you've already graduated from college, what was your plan after graduation? Or, if you're still in college, do you have an idea of how you'll get a job lined up after you receive your degree? I'd love to hear, so leave me a comment below.