Like many of you out there, I have worked hard to get to where I am today. I’ve endured setbacks, hardships, and even heartbreak. I had to work and make my own money in order to buy my car, pay for my cell phone, and buy my clothes. Of course, I had help from family along the way, but very little financially. That’s not to say that my family did not lend money to me when I needed it, but it was never for large amounts and expecting help in paying for four years of college was out of the question, my family simply did not have that kind of money, so like most American college students, I had to rely on loans and work near full-time hours while going to school full-time.
Now that I have been out of college for a month, I graduated in December of 2015, I begin the much dreaded job search. I can say that my luck might be a little bit better than some of those graduates who have come before me in recent years, as the job market and the economy has greatly improved these past few years however; there is that one little word that discourages me. That word is “experience”. Now, I’m not the type of person who gets discouraged easily, I always believe that the grass is greener on the other side, but as I browse jobs postings on the numerous employment websites and find something that I might be interested in or falls inline with the two subjects I majored in (Justice Studies and Political Science), I see that word, experience. The employer wants you to have ten years of experience doing this, and seven years of experience doing that. How exactly does a college graduate get “experience” if nobody is willing to give them a shot and allow them to prove themselves. As far as I’m concerned, I have a lot of experience and there’s not much that I can’t do. I interned for a U.S Senator, worked on a gubernatorial campaign, interned for a nonprofit organization made up of community lawyers who advocated and fought for First Amendment rights in the Northwestern region of Illinois, and have worked in retail for eight years. How’s that for “experience”?
The discouragement on the other side of “experience” are the jobs that are open to you no matter what you studied or how good or how poor your GPA was, and those are sales jobs. I can’t even count how many of these jobs I see everyday, or how many emails and phone calls I get from recruiters for such jobs. I must say, that these jobs postings sound good; they promise good pay, and all of these benefits and perks. You think it all sounds peachy, then you go to a website such as glassdoor.com, read the reviews, find out that not only is the pay commission based, it’s also door-to-door, putting wear and tear on your car, and getting doors slammed in your face. There is of course, those reviews about how terrible management is and how poorly they treat you. In my opinion, such employers think you’re an idiot and they set this trap to lure college graduates who have hopes of earning money and going somewhere in the world to their crappy sales job. And all of those marketing job postings you see, most of the time, those are the same thing. The truth is that the concept works like this; you’re a college graduate and you want to make money. You take one of these positions most likely because a recruiter sweet talked you, made it sound like the greatest thing ever and you accepted. While you’re miserable and not making any money, the recruiter just got paid! They’re in it for them, not for you.
Finally, I want to touch on these so called “staffing” agencies. I don’t think they’re a bad thing even though most of the jobs they have to offer you with various employers are temporary, they are a good resource for somebody who has been out of work because they were laid off or for whatever the reason might be, but in my view, this is not practical for a recent college graduate. The reason I say this is because a new graduate is not looking for something temporary, they are looking for something permenant which they can do for many years or in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Recently, I spoke to a woman from one of these agencies, she was very nice and of course was trying to sweet talk me into taking a temporary position with one of the many employers they work with. She told me that many of the people who work for the employers they interact with get hired on after several months of temp work, but how is this practical for a college student who has loans to pay off and can’t afford to be without a paycheck for any given amount of time? And this is what I told the lady, I simply cannot give up the retail job that I have been working throughout college to take a temporary job which might not turn into something permanent and be without a paycheck.
My search of course will continue. I’m looking to get into nonprofit or government, work for a while and publish some writing, which has always been a dream of mine before going back for my Master’s and hopefully getting into politics to help make a positive difference for all, another dream of mine. Before I wrap this up, I want all of you college graduates out there who are in this boat with me, to get two things into your head. One; never give up on your job search. Your first job may not be your dream job, but it will be a step in the right direction. Your first job and your dream job will come, and don’t be afraid to call and follow up on your application. This is not taboo, in fact it is just the opposite and most people will tell you so. Following up, shows enthusiasm and interest for the position. Second; never give up on your dreams, in my opinion, one only fails if they give up. You may not succeed right away, but keep trying and you certainly will succeed. I have not yet found that stepping stone job and certainly not my dream job, but be optimistic with me and we will not fail. Best of luck and may 2016 be your year!