Monday, June 9, 2008

[Feature] True Life: Transitioning from College Graduate to Working Professional (Part 1)

(c.2006, my girlfriends Joyce, Stella, me, and Alyse at Wellesley's convocation reception)

The beginning of June this year marks my 2 year anniversary from graduating college, and even though my post-graduation story isn't all that interesting, I figured it would be of help to some of our readers. In this 2 part feature (you know you all love my 8000-word posts), I'm going to share how transitioning from college graduate to real world member went/is going for me. Hopefully I can impart some of the small wisdom/knowledge I've picked up along the way.

The College Years:

I graduated from a school where about 95% of the students were super ambitious, smart, and driven, and even though I was never as intense as some of the other girls, I too got caught up in the post-graduation excitement. The problem was, while so many of my peers had awesome jobs lined up, gotten into the grad schools of their choice, traveling the world, or on fellowships to enrich themselves in their pursued fields, I was sort of lagging in that department.

My goal all throughout college was to figure out, in the 4 short years I was there, what I’d be doing for the rest of my life. That's a pretty lofty and impossible goal to achieve, in case you're thinking of doing the same thing. Well, if you really want to know the truth, I was supposed to figure it all out in the first 3 and a half years, so I could spend the latter half of senior year applying and interviewing for all my dream jobs, and rolling around in offers to come join companies by graduation. It kind of didn’t work out that way, surprise surprise!

Senior year came and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do- I vaguely knew I wanted to be in publishing, or events planning, or working in an art museum. I got pretty desperate towards the end of senior year, and looking back on it, I must have applied to a 100 jobs, wrote a 100 cover letters, and met with a 100 people (helpful and not) to get the ball rolling. But March, April, May, and June came and went, and I ended up graduating without a job and without a plan.

And in a lot of ways, it was ok that I didn't have a job right out of college. I just wish I knew that then, instead of being so stressed out. In the 8 months after graduation that I was unemployed, I went on at least 10 interviews (they're so exhausting, btw), applied for 50 jobs, and lost my dignity about 96 times. And like I said, being unemployed would have been fine (you know, cause waking up late and doing whatever I want is SO TERRIBLE =P) except I was stressed about being a loser without a job. And I want to tell those going through the same thing right now, believe me when I say that it's ok to not have a job right away, or for awhile after graduating. Everything happens and works out for a reason. Plus, you're going to be working for the rest of your life anyway, what's a couple of months/years? =P

First Job
The dry spell, as I've affectionately named my period of unemployment, ended last February, when my friend Leslie sent me a posting for a Team Assistant position at Turner Broadcasting, more specifically, at Cartoon Network/Adult Swim. I went into the interview thinking like I had after all my other interviews, cautious, defensive, and ready to dismiss if it didn't work out. But this one did stick. And honestly, it had nothing to do with what I thought I wanted to do- advertising sales at a cable network that I didn't even watch? But it was my way out of unemployment, the pay was ok, and the benefits were pretty great. Plus it didn't hurt to tell people that's where I worked (Jorge practically salivated when I told him, as he HEARTS Adult Swim).

I learned a lot in the year and 4 months I've been at Cartoon. I've learned about politics of corporate culture, how to get along with people, even if they're super annoying/incompetent/both, how I handle stress, how to multitask in a hectic environment, how to bulls**t, the list goes on. My job honestly isn't hard, though I will stop from saying it's not stressful. It's a lot of admin work that people totally take for granted, but even so, I've actually learned a lot about the industry, the marketplace, and TV in general. This is the key to being successful at your job- be good at what you do, for sure, but also be good about soaking up knowledge, from the resources at your job.

But even though I was content being an assistant, I totally knew that this isn't where I wanted to be. I had a good time the first year, not having any real responsibilities, working with people I liked and having nice bosses, and getting to do cool things like ride on the Adult Swim College Tour party bus to Rutgers for a Ghostface Killah show, but after February of this year hit, I was so ready to get out of here. The thing was, not much had changed from job searching post-graduation to job searching now. I still didn't have my heart set on pursuing something specifically, which made it hard for people to help me. It's ok to not know what you want to do, I firmly stand by that, but I will say, it's a lot easier for people to help you if you have ideas on what you want to do. I've met a lot of people here and along the way who have been so willing to help me further my career, but honestly, if you can't put into words or on paper what it is that you want to do, it gets a lot harder for people to extend that help to you.

And this is where I leave you, wanting more (or not, whatever). Part 2 next Monday will take you through where I am now, which should be interesting, cause some very cool things have happened to me in the last couple of weeks.


Julia Park said...

Aw, cute picture! :)

My brother was supposed to get all of my graduation photos developed, but I think he lost them -_-

Anyway, I LOVE your post .. so very informative and relate-able.

sang said...

I seem to be in the same boat you were 2 years back, hopefully I can stay positive and not lazy. I hope to have a cool story to tell 2 years from now.

Hsudler said...

It's a tough economy to work in, not to mention, find a job in. Landing either that perfect job or that perfectly matched job is very hard and more often than not, the grass always does seem greener on the other side - seem being the key word.

Job interviews are difficult in that interviewers may bond with another who many be less qualified, but who had some sort of charm, whether apparent or when interviewing, don't take it personally when offers don't come rolling in. They rarely do for most. Just learn from each interview and be proactive in finding out what could have been bettered...

Ginny said...

Although job-searching is stressful, once you finally find one, it's exciting!