Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Alumni Perspective: The Extended Job Hunt

Making it through a job search that isn’t going your way.

Completing a degree is a huge accomplishment. After years of work, you finally receive the recognition you deserve for the hours you put in studying, attending classes and building networks around campus.

However, graduation can be a scary time, if the job market isn’t looking upon you favorably. We all know the realities of living in a tough economy, and jumping into a job search during rough times is often downright discouraging.

While I do not have the answer to finding a high-paying job in this type of market, here are a few tips to make the transition between school and a career easier (and hopefully quicker).

Build networks. This can be anything from finding a professional association in your field to joining a local organization of people with similar interests. I have gotten some of my favorite jobs because I was recommended by someone that I developed a connection with. This could be as simple as taking a community education course, joining a gardening club or becoming part of a church group. You never know who else is a part of these groups, and whether or not they know who could move your résumé to the top of the pile.

Get a job. Financial expert Dave Ramsey always says, work is a great place to go when you need money. You will need a source of income while you search for your dream job. It never hurts to pick up a job in the evenings delivering pizzas, working at a store or waiting tables. While it may not be the most glamorous (or well-paying) option, you will at least have some money coming in once the bills start arriving in the mailbox. Once again, you never know who you might meet that could open up a new doorway to your career, or if you would be eligible for a different position if your company likes to hire from within.

Be responsible with your money. Unless you work in a store or restaurant, stay out of stores and restaurants!!! Although you would like to start your career right away, it could take weeks, months, or even years. Using wise financial practices will ensure that your money lasts until the big paychecks start rolling in.

(Carefully) Consider graduate school. Grad school is a great option, but it is not for everyone! Many graduate programs offer paid assistantships and tuition assistance, which is a great way to spend a couple years if the job market is sluggish. However, if you are fed up with school, starting more schooling right away may not be a good idea! You have to make this judgment call; it’s a great option, but don’t rush into it.

Don’t give up hope! It’s easy to get discouraged. Rejection letters and phone calls that go unreturned get old very quickly. But it is important not to give up! With the right amount of persistence, the right opportunity will come along at the right time. And just remember, everything happens for a reason!

James Foster graduated from Bemidji State University in 2010 and currently sits on the MSUSA Alumni Association Board. You can contact him at fosterjamesa@gmail.com. 

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