So you’ve graduated with your degree. Congratulations. Now the next hurdle is figuring out how the hell you’re going to put that fancy degree to work and afford a meal with a roof to eat it under. I know firsthand how competitive it is out there. Professor so-and-so said go for an internship, but nowadays that’s as hard as getting a job. And on top of that, depending on the field, many of these companies don’t want to pay you because they believe getting experience is compensation enough. (It’s a damn shame.) But working and living a comfortable life after graduation is possible. Jobs are somewhat easy to get when you know who’s giving them away and where the givers are located. Here are a few pointers for all you novice job-seekers.
Photo: Alex Block on Unsplash
Go to the City
If you haven’t figured out by now that urban areas are where the money is, bless your heart, child. You have little chances of finding a job in your old rinky-dink town, no matter who the hell you know. Unless you’re looking to make a cashier career, you need to save up for a commute to whichever city you live closest to. Also, it’s not a bad idea to look around for opportunities in other states, and don’t let money be the reason you won’t. Try picking up more hours at the department store, or hell, consider asking your parents for assistance. If they’re loving parents, they’ll be willing to help you get a head start on fending for yourself.
These are huge in cities. Staffing agencies are the fastest and easiest way to get your foot in the door of a company. They’re also a great way to get a feel for what kind of work you like and where you’d like to spend the next several years of your career. You’re not beholden to anybody and you’re making money while testing the waters. And most importantly, there are usually opportunities to enter permanent employment with a client if they decide they like you and want to hire you on a long-term basis. Now, let me warn you; staffing agencies can be tricky. Some recruiters can be alarmingly aggressive and invasive of your time and personal space. Immediately set boundaries for how and when they’re allowed to contact you. (Choose email as your primary means of communication because they’ll blow your phone up.) And most importantly, it’s their job to also protect you if you find yourself in a hostile environment. If you get put on an assignment and find yourself being mistreated and/or harassed by any of the other employees, try telling the perpetrators that you feel uncomfortable. If the behavior persists, immediately contact your agency recruiter. If the agency blatantly turns a blind eye—start looking for another agency. No amount of money is worth being abused. Protect your mental health before it’s too late!
Don’t get discouraged if you’re not getting hired permanently through the staffing agencies. On the bright side you’re getting a considerable amount of experience. Use it. Do your own due diligence and start looking on career sites, such as Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, etc. I even applied to permanent positions while I was working as a temp. Apply, apply, apply. Yes, there are some employers who are going to think that you’re not stable. Noting on your resume that your positions have been temporary is a smart way to explain your situation without having to go into detail. But even if you get rejected a lot, (You will.) keep applying. Somebody will be wise enough to understand that you took temp jobs because you had to eat. And those that refuse to understand are the ones missing out, not you. I reminded myself of that every time my resume got rejected, and I went from a receptionist to an assistant for an entire facility’s manager in less than a year. Moral of the story: let the haters hate. You just shake it off and keep pushing.
Entry Level Positions
If temping just isn’t your wave, there is another way. You can search for direct-hire entry level positions. The chief benefit about entry levels is that they're always going to exist because people in them either get promoted or go elsewhere in search of a new challenge. The bad news is that they usually suck in terms of responsibilities. Entry-level employees either do the 10% of the company’s mundane work or they do 90% of the it while somehow only making up a small percentage of the staff. Either way, these sorts of positions are oftentimes more frustrating than challenging. But in order to avoid entry positions that don’t suck the life out of you, do your homework on the hiring companies. Read the employee reviews on the career sites to get a feel for what certain office cultures are like and why former workers left. If I had thought to do this when I graduated, there would have been a lot of places I wouldn’t have wasted my time on. Be realistic in your research, though. You’re most likely not going to find a glamorous entry position that gives you power, liberty, and a good salary. When you’re first starting out, look for good people, a good boss (this is very crucial), and a reasonable living wage. With these three elements, all other essentials will naturally fall in place, because good things happen for good people.
Elisheva Azarael was born in Boston, Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She lives in Hyde Park with her two hilarious grandparents and her spoiled Black cat, Divine.