For many of us, May has come and gone, and, diploma in hand, we find ourselves wondering, ‘now what?’ With a college degree comes the expectation that we have been magically granted a dream spot at the dream company, but more and more recent graduates are finding they have to work twice as hard to get the job than they did to get the degree. Regardless of if you can walk the walk and talk the talk, you can find yourself talking and walking in circles unless you learn to utilize the number key for securing a job—networking.
After graduating in May, I was more than ready to take the summer to relax and unwind. Instead, I pursued a recently acquired contact before too much time had lapsed. As a result, I ended my summer with not only an internship, but also an entry-level marketing position that has shed a lot of light on what I want out of my career.
How did I manage this?
It’s all about meeting the people that matter through the people you already know. And my story starts with my final presentation for my senior advertising course at Northern Arizona University. At the end of the semester, my group and I faced our final stepping-stone—the presentation of our semester-long advertising campaign on Perrier Sparkling Water. To up the ante, our professor invited guest judges to critique our campaigns and presentations.
Following our presentation, my fellow group members and I had the opportunity to speak with the judges about our futures in the industry and any recommendation and advice they had. They all stressed the importance of networking and how useful LinkedIn is as a networking tool. That evening, I made it a point to thank each of them for their time and to request a connection through LinkedIn.
By following their advice, I successfully completed the first step in using networking as a job-hunting skill. I proved that I was determined and that I did actually listen to what they had to say. As a result, one of the judges offered to critique my resume and help me with my job hunt. And, boy, did he follow through!
Within two weeks of my graduation, I had already secured an interview at Gadabout SalonSpas for their Social Media and Public Relations Intern position. An opportunity my networking contact had heard about through his association with the Tucson chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA).
With a little hard work and determination, I proved myself once again by being offered the internship. But, my newly acquired networking contact didn’t stop helping me. Periodically, I would receive job notices and career update questions from him. In June, he informed me that he had passed along my resume to another contact of his through AMA and a few days later, I received a phone call from a company I had never heard of requesting that I come in for an interview.
This time, the interview wasn’t for an internship; it was for the real deal. And sure enough, I was offered a marketing position with the company—my first real job in the industry, a mere couple of months post-college.
Since graduation, I’ve had to learn how to stop being a student and start being a successful and noticeable 20-something in the ocean that is the working world. Although I have drive and determination, I would be nowhere if I didn’t stop to talk to the people I meet along the way. They are your hidden jewels and missing pieces that make up the puzzle of life. Prove yourself to them, and sometimes they will bend over backwards to help you get from point A to point B.
LAUREN GILLASPEY is a freelance public relations specialist who recently graduated with Bachelors of Science in Advertising and Public Relations. Lauren continues to network with new and seasoned professionals through PRSA, AMA and AAF.