Hillary Frazier is a 2010 graduate of LSA with a major in English. She is currently a social media moderator and content creator for a social media firm in New York City, working with global pharmaceutical brands on Twitter and Facebook. Today, Hillary shares her experience and advice on breaking into the social media/marketing industry.
I was a drifter at the University of Michigan. I didn’t declare my major until my junior year, and took classes on topics ranging from WWII history, to costume design at the Theater school. I held 5 internships while in school, and it still took me 8 months to find a full time job after graduation. I’m no expert, but if I had to step back into your shoes, these are a few things I wish someone had told me during my job search:
You may not know what you want to do, but by now, you probably know what you don’t want to do. Research types of jobs in fields you are interested in. For me, I always wanted to work in fashion, but I couldn’t design. I began interning with photographers and a stylist, and discovered there were many other positions in the field where I could apply my talents. I set a timeline for myself. The summer before my junior year, I had 2 internships around my hometown. By the next summer, I wanted to be in New York City interning, hoping that by mid-January I would be ready to apply for jobs and secure a spot for an established company. In the end, I didn’t find a job by then, even by graduation, but I did keep my eyes on my goals, and eventually (6 months later), I got there.
Apply. Apply. Apply.
Many of you have begun your internship or job search, and know there are hundreds, if not thousands of resources online to look for jobs. Career Center Connector, Career Builder, Monster, LinkedIn, Indeed, MediaBistro, even corporate websites list their openings online. The more jobs you can apply for, the better (as long as they fit your interests and goals!). A job isn’t going to find you, you have to find it. Ask anyone and everyone you know, ask UofM alumni you may not know, try everything you can to get connected to companies, send out your applications (as many as you possibly can!), and hope for the best.
Admitting defeat isn’t bad, you just have to find a way to make it work for you. Think of failed applications as practice runs. Revisit your applications to see where you may have not presented yourself as the best possible candidate. It’s important to remember that you are going to hear no, because you can’t be perfect for every job out there. Sometimes, you may have been perfect, but you weren’t playing up your assets in the correct way. Other times, it isn’t your fault at all. I’ve actually been told before, in interviews, that many employers don’t read all of the applications, because they get so many. Of course this isn’t always true, but sometimes, applicants are chosen completely at random and screened. In the end, these “practice runs” will ensure you are an expert at finding a job, and selling yourself as not only the best, but the only candidate these employers should want to hire.
Work for Free
Working for free isn’t always fun, or easy to convince your parents to support, but in some industries, it’s the best way to get your foot in the door. Securing internships is by far easier than securing a full-time job, because almost everyone is willing to accept free help. Unpaid doesn’t always have to mean underappreciated, and there are many companies that value their interns as if they are full-time employees. Of course, use your judgment to make sure your employer isn’t taking you advantage of your talents, and always ask if there is a prospect to be hired afterwards. It was after my 7th internship that I realized…almost all of the companies I had worked for were entirely run by unpaid interns! There are thousands of people out there willing to work for free, and the only way I could separate myself from them from that point on was refusing to give companies my expertise and experience for free.
Your First Job Won’t Always Work Out
Once you’ve heard those amazing words, “we’d like to offer you a position at our company,” you may think all of your hard work is done. You have your job, and you never need to look for another one. That isn’t the case! You may have secured the job of your dreams, but sometimes, what we think we want changes. It’s okay to always be looking for the next thing! Of course, you should be respectful and dedicated to the position you have, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your eyes and ears open for something different. If you hate your job, don’t be afraid to leave! Nothing has to be permanent, and now that you’re an expert at looking for a job, you’ll have an easier time finding the next one. My first job didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, and I chose to leave after 8 months of work. However, with a lot of patience, I was able to receive another job offer, at a better company, with a better salary, and guess what…it was because I not only had close to 4 years of experience, but also because I am a Michigan grad!
Hopefully my story has helped you understand a few things about job/internship searching that you may have not realized before, and I wish you all the best of luck with your search! You can see more information about my college and professional life on my alumni profile, and I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever have questions or are looking to network.