Motivating Pep Talk from Recent Grad

I was introduced virtually to Suzanne Block by former Sears colleague Tim Conway, who was impressed with her attitude and approach to finding a job.  Suzanne is leaving no stone unturned in her search, which will land her a full-time PR job.

After a couple of email exchanges, I asked Suzanne to share her job search philosophy and approach with Culpwrit readers through this guest post. 

  Suzanne Block

Upon uttering, “recent college graduate,” to any member of modern society, there is an inevitable gasp, followed by overwhelming condolences.  The message is reinforced to graduates of all levels—the economy is terrible and no one is hiring.  Recent grads should, therefore, crawl into the proverbial basement in their parents’ home and peek out only when the recession is over.  Right?

Wrong.  Although I have just recently graduated into one of the toughest job markets in decades, it is not time to silently go into the night (or my parent’s basement, whichever is cheaper).  I am a graduate: It’s time to put my professional hat on, to be proactive, and to get a job. 

My search for an entry level public relations position began in January, 2009.  I started at the career center of my alma mater, Lake Forest College.  I polished my resume, was advised to join, and passionately hit the job boards.  As the weeks passed, I came up short.  Submitting online applications was a black hole and networking through family friends only got me so far.

Then the golden ticket arrived: My dad’s fiancé, the president of her own independent PR firm in Washington, D.C., hired me as her virtual assistant.  She provided industry insight through a small agency prospective and encouraged me to join professional organizations, such as Public Relations Society of America and the Publicity Club of Chicago to meet new people and distribute my resume when appropriate.  She assured me the cost of the memberships was an investment, rather than a way to quickly drain my (meager) student piggy-bank.  She was right.  Attending monthly meetings, luncheons, and networking events was the catalyst to helpful conversations about the PR industry, including informational interviews with several PR firms in Chicago. 

My ability to connect with people grew.  I met with anyone who was willing to give me their time, inquiring about their career, their first job out of college, and their definition of success. My relentlessness motivated the head of PR at Lake Forest College, along with the head of the Lake Forest College Career Center, to recommend me to the Chicago Tribune as a candidate for a story about a “student who was on top of her job search.”  Two weeks later, my picture was on the front cover of the Chicago Tribune, accompanying an article declaring me as a diligent, rising star to the PR world.  Two weeks and three days later, I was on Jane Skinner’s Happening Now mid-day FOX News segment, conducting a live interview to further my story.  This media frenzy was any job searcher’s dream, not to mention an aspiring PR professional’s heaven.

Did my media exposure get me a job?  Well, not exactly.  When hiring freezes, cancellation of summer internships, and fierce competition combine, the harsh impenetrable nature of a bearish market rears its ugly head.  My experience with the media did not get me a job, my hard work did. 

Page 1 of 2 | Next page