Post-grad career search begins sooner than expected

Who hit the fast forward button on my senior year?

I’ve joked that I have a reason for holding off on applying to graduate schools or pouring over job listings; my senior thesis clouds this semester so much I can’t see into the spring, let alone after graduation.

But last Wednesday, when I should have been focused on thesis writing, my eyes left the books and searched through the listings on a journalism careers website.

So far, the site hadn’t encouraged me all too much. More than 90 percent of the listings indicated specifications I didn’t have. Certain skills and years experience necessary jumped off the page in menacing bold print. I skipped to the next listing with the sinking feeling that I had trespassed on a stranger’s property.

At last, one advertisement landed in my court. It was posted by a smaller paper from central New York, near the Finger Lakes. I discovered that by checking Google Maps first.

The listing stood out for one simple phrase: “spring college graduates with internship experience are welcome to apply.” Finally. Here was one listing that didn’t try to intimidate me or shame me for being an upstart in the field.

On that encouragement alone, I spent all evening updating my resume, writing a cover letter and completing the newspaper’s online application. My thesis documents and books collected dust as I meticulously read each sentence of this first application again and again.

Around 7 o’clock, I clicked “submit application” and my adrenaline peaked. I looked around at the books covering my desk and scooped them up into my bag. I wasn’t going to do any work after that career-starting experience. I felt both mentally and emotionally taxed.

To have any confidence when I hit the job market, I found I have to axe any doubt about my abilities to transition to a career. I can’t focus on what I can’t do, but highlight the intangibles I bring to a company.

I know that change will be a work in progress. I’ve never boasted my abilities over someone else’s, and I’m more interested in cooperating as part of a team instead of striking out on my own.

But employers are looking for passionate and driven individuals. If I’m to land a job soon after graduation, I’d better stop the sheepish act and start demonstrating my unique worth.

I’m not naïve enough to believe Wednesday’s application will be the only one I submit before I’m hired full time. Of course there will be more resume tweaks, cover letters written and I’ll have to send more contacts to my references.

But most importantly, starting my career search last week—instead of in January, April or the minute after I change out of my cap and gown—gives me a resolute peace of mind.

That peace of mind reminds me of the self-encouragement imperative to this stage of my life. I am a skilled reporter, writer and human being, and I will make a welcome addition to the right newspaper.

And now I can say that I have begun the search for my first job.



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