Dear Class of 2014,
Congratulations! You’ve made it. This is the definition of success. That little piece of paper with your name on it will be mailed to your parent’s house in six months. You’ve studied hard. You’ve slept through many classes. You’ve mastered the sport of Beer Pong (yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s a sport). You are victorious.
When I was about to graduate from college, I had read a very uplifting blog by Jen Glantz (twitter). This girl had graduated from college two years ago, and now she had a writing job in New York City. The underlying perseverance message was all over it. If you work hard, you will make it in this world. I had worked my ass off. I had earned that full-time job, and I was going to get one.
If you read Jen’s blog post, you may have noticed that I skipped over the part where she moved three times in two years, cried in the bathroom, and got no answer from “thousands” of job applications. I don’t know that I thought I was better than that, but looking back, I wonder what exactly I was thinking. It’s been one year since I graduated college. I have yet to ruin a bathroom rug with tears, but my track pad on my laptop has had a bout of schizophrenia after the last time I cried all over it. (Pro Tip: Wait to look for more jobs until after you’re done crying about the last one you didn’t get.)
In the past year, I’ve held six different jobs, only two of which have been in my field of study. I quit my first job in the music industry after two months. As soon as I found out about the company’s terrible reputation and realized just how much they lied to their clients, I was out. I still have my second job in the industry, and I’m pleased to report that I worked a record 12 hours last week.
There’s nothing quite like the emotional roller coaster of almost landing a job. The high point is right after you know you’ve nailed the interview. You start planning your new life at your new job. You know what you’re going to buy with that first paycheck. You’ve mentally decorated and organized your desk. And then, there comes the steep drop of “We’ve decided to go in another direction.” I’ve been in the top five applicants, the top two applicants, etc. for amazing jobs, and they always go in another direction. There’s always someone more experienced, more qualified, more connected, and better-looking than you. I always hold onto the fact that I know I’m the one who is most passionate about the job. I know that if they would just give me a chance, they wouldn’t be sorry. I learn faster, work harder, and am more determined than any of those other bitches. After all, I was named “Most Determined” at Fifth Grade Graduation (side note: I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a compliment, looking back on it).
I don’t have a job to show for my year in Nashville, but I do have a much larger professional network. Especially in the entertainment/arts world, 99% of the jobs you’ll land will not be through Jobs2Careers.com. They’re going to be through people you know. People who know your work ethic and talent. One of my old internship supervisors, Leah, always used the phrase “Your network is your net worth.” It’s cliche, but true. No matter how many times you hear that networking is important, you won’t fully understand it until you join us in the real world.
I wish I could write you from the office of my full-time, salaried job in the field of my choice, and tell you that everything is going to work out. I’m actually writing this from my part-time job at a shoe store. The truth is, no one knows if it’s going to work out. Most of us are just making it up as we go. This won’t be the last time we cry over a lost opportunity, think about starting over in a new city, or just giving up and going home to live with mom and dad (you know you miss the food there, anyways). The one thing we can all hold onto is faith in ourselves and our work.
With that said, here’s 10 tips to help you through your first year out of school:
- Get a lot of roommates
- Go out a lot
- Save as much money as you can
- Learn to drink something other than vodka. People will judge you.
- Talk to strangers (sorry, mom), but don’t go home with them.
- Get business cards that don’t say “student” or anything about a university
- Learn new skill sets whenever possible
- Try to eat something healthy every once in awhile (you’re welcome, mom).
- Never turn down an opportunity
- Always work hard
Best of luck, Class of 2014. I know you’ve got it in you. “It” being work ethic, or determination, or something. Get your mind out of the gutter.