My name is Ebony Jones and I attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with the lovely Price Smith. I do not blog often, but hopefully I can offer some sense of encouragement especially to recent college graduates.
Beginning in October of 2010 I made up my mind that I wanted to leave Tennessee and relocate to the freezing city of Chicago. Everyone always assumed that I wanted to live in New York, where the people aren’t the friendliest and there is no work-life balance. Nope, that was not my idea of the perfect life after college. So, after that was clear and graduation in May came closer and closer throughout the 2011 school year, everyone always managed to ask in candid conversations, “when are you moving to Chicago?”. This became a regularly asked question that drove me completely insane!! I think every college graduate can agree with me when I say the worst questions are, “So what do you plan to do after graduation?” or “What are you doing now?”. Those are definitely personal questions that should only be asked in intimate settings among close friends!
I realized these questions were not going to stop, and that I should really start pursuing this goal of mine to move to Chicago. I began with visiting the city to make some professional contacts by attending an American Advertising Federation career fair. It worked! I met a great lady in human resources, Katie, from OMD media agency who I definitely connected with. I maintained contact with Katie over the course of the 2011 school year, upon graduation, and throughout the summer. Katie then invited me back to visit Chicago for an initial interview and multiple interviews following that. I actually visited Chicago a total of THREE TIMES within FIVE WEEKS and interviewed with three different accounts. Needless to say I gained a large number of miles on Southwest Airlines during that time. Also, while interviewing at OMD I continued to practice interviewing at agencies in Nashville while still staying focused on Chicago. I won’t take you through all of the details of receiving my offer letter because you would start nodding off from boredom, but it was an exciting time in my life.
The interview process was not as glamorous as it sounds; I experienced a lot of disappointments during the three-month period. I was rejected by two accounts that I interviewed for at OMD and also by a number of others from different agencies across the United States. It was a very hard time, but a good time for me to learn about myself and pursing my goals. Now I live in Chicago with a totally different task of making new friends, living in a brand new city along with it being my first time supporting myself. I’m learning about the “work place” and how to continue to make stepping-stones in your career. There’s so much that goes into it! With that said, I must say that I’m very proud of myself, but not because I have a job in Chicago. I’m proud because there were many times that I told myself that this would not happen and that my goal was too big, but it happened!
There are so many recent graduates with stories similar to mine, and others who are still working on securing a job. Not that I’m an expert, but I have five tips of personal advice for recent graduates who looking for jobs months later after graduation.
1. Do not be afraid of the questions “What are you doing now?” or “What’s next?” Try to think of an answer similar to “I’m exploring the endless possibilities I have.” Haha, right? I think this is a great answer to make yourself laugh and others around you.
2. Please note to yourself that you’re not the only one without immediate success of finding a job because you’re not! Also, just because you are looking for a job does not make you a failure.
3. Find a buddy who has similar goals! I had a friend who was looking for jobs like myself and wanted to move to a bigger city. This really can help as you all can use each other for encouragement and advice.
4. Plan as if you know your offer letter is coming tomorrow! My biggest mistake was that I knew I wanted to move to Chicago, but I didn’t exactly have my finances in order. Luckily, I had parents to support me. Also, do the fun stuff of picking out apartments and decorating ideas - it will keep your spirits up :)
5. Have a goal, stick with it, but know that having a job is not everything! I know you’re thinking this girl is crazy. The reality is that six months after having a job you could absolutely hate it! So put your best foot forward with finding one, but do not put all your emotions into securing one where you miss the time to reflect on a graduating as a great achievement and spending time with the people you love while you can!
Good luck to all graduates pursuing their goals!