Summer is midway over and as much as I hate to say it this is when reality hits and hits hard; Especially for a post graduate. May your wrapping up finals and bedazzling your grad cap, By June you’re on some vacation with your feet in the sand celebrating that the years of 3 am studying and drunkenly walking home because you’re too broke for a cab are over. July hits and you’re trying to soak up the last couple of days of summer before you actually have to figure out what the heck you’re going to do with your life. Which brings me to the whole point of this post- How to get a job after graduation.
Let me start off by saying there is no cookie cutter way to do this. Everyone has their own journey and I know as a recent grad I was determined to march to the beat of my own drum.(p.s that’s my diploma up above!) I took a less “traditional” degree; majoring in apparel merchandising, and I dove full force into one of the most competitive fields ever. Fashion. I won’t spend this time talking about my journey (you can read all about that here), but I wanted to share some quick and easy tips that can be used no matter what field you’re going into.
Figure out what you want to do
At 13 I knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry but my ideas on what I actually wanted to do changed almost every year. Initially I wanted to be a stylist but when I got to college I had changed to a buyer. By the time I graduated, I realized buying was too much math and analytics so I wanted to do merchandising. My mind was really all over the place, but one thing I did know was that the were all related. I had some sense of direction and I took what little I knew and ran with it. My suggestion to you would be to do the same thing. It may not happen overnight, but jot down a few things that inspire you. I even had written a few backup plans (like psychology and wedding planning) in case fashion just didn’t work out. Some fields and certain positions are extremely competitive to get into. No matter how much something “ entry level” it Is its still not going to be a walk in the park. Figure out what you want to do and then make a path on how you want to get there. I started in retail and then realized I hated it and wanted to do corporate fashion instead. So I applied for an administrative assistant position on campus (completely unrelated to fashion) and started to get some data entry and overall admin experience. Once I finished that I did an internship for a showroom so that I could learn the wholesale aspect of the business, then later I worked in sales so I could actually start working with major accounts (like Nordstrom and Amazon) and get some hands on experience with buyers I aspired to be. None of this was actually merchandising, but they were all things that helped build my experience. It wasn’t perfect and quite frankly a little chopped and screwed, but I slowly started to learn the ins and outs of the business and what I wanted to do. Figure out your plan and then find any means necessary to get you there. Even if it means doing something totally unrelated first and then slowly working your way into your chosen industry.
Beefing up your Resume
Once you’ve found your path now it’s time to create a killer resume. You may have graduated thinking you have no real work experience but trust me everything counts. 3 years after graduation I still get questions from interviewers asking me about my experience while I was working on campus. It’s all relevant, you just have to find a way to word it properly. If you have resources available to you like a counselor at your local library or access to your school’s career center they can help you word your resume properly. You should also reach out to anybody that you know who hires for a living, even if it’s your friend who is the manager at forever 21. Anybody who hires will be able to tell you the type of format they prefer for resumes, what verbiage they look for, their preferred method of contacting someone etc. Another tip is to brainstorm on all the things you did while you were in college. Every time you volunteered or got paid to do something its work; no matter If you only did it once or for 2 years. Resumes aren’t necessarily all about how much experience you have but rather a way to showcase your character. President of your sorority? That shows leadership and that you work well with others. Worked at the school coffee shop? That shows customer service and strong communication skills. Ya, catch my drift? All of these details are golden when you’re trying to find a job!
This is when you have to really start to get crafty. Everyone and they mama are going to be applying to jobs on indeed, monster, career builder etc. It’s your job to find a little window of opportunity somewhere and wiggle your foot in the door. My first job was by recommendation from a sorority sister, my internship I got the same way and my last job at Hudson was from me emailing the showroom asking if they were hiring. That’s right..a simple email. I looked up the showrooms email address stated what I wanted to do and then sent in my resume. They called me in for an interview and I got the job! Not every company that is hiring is going to have a job posted. You have to look for work in places that aren’t always so obvious. Another tip is to apply and follow up! This is a big one. Companies get a bunch of resumes a day, your going have to find some way to stand out. Call the HR number and ask if they received your resume and if the position is still available. If it’s a smaller company ask to speak to the manager in charge. Applying for a job can sometimes feel like a full-time job but the key is to pace yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed. Try to do at least 3-4 a day and keep a running tab of everything you’ve applied to so you don’t have any repeats and so you know what to follow up with later. I had a list of all the companies I applied to, the job description and the date of application and I typically followed up about a week later.
In the meantime in between time start networking! I told everybody that would listen to me that I was looking for a job and I was always asking a million questions to those that actually worked in fashion. Since Gap (where I currently work) is so well known in the bay area there were plenty of people who knew somebody that worked here. If you’re in a specialized field then I would suggest the internet as a great resource for you. Google your industry and how you can meet people to get your foot in the door. Job fares and meet n greets are great places to start.
I hope these tips help you land your dream job! If you have any questions be sure to leave them below!