As a Career Coach for New Graduates I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. Last week I was there and saw a post from a recent college graduate letting people know that she had landed her first post college job and thanking everyone who helped her. It was so well done that I went to her profile and found out that she graduated from the local state school in my town. Because I was so impressed with the way that she presented herself on what can be an intimidating platform for young people, and because success stories are hard to come by I reached out to Elaine Julien and asked her if I could interview her about her transition from college into her career. She graciously said yes and I think her story is helpful for many recent graduates right now who may be struggling.
Susan: Elaine how were you feeling as you approached graduation and thoughts about a job search?
Elaine: I was pretty nervous. It is always a big step, but with the virus out there I knew it was going to be hard. I was a business major at Keene State College, but wasn’t certain about what kinds of roles I wanted. I was leaning towards marketing, sales, or finance, but knew I also had to be open to a lot of different things during these tough times.
Susan: What was the most important help you received early on?
Elaine: I had a college professor who spent a lot of time talking with us about preparing for graduating and finding a job. She really emphasized informational interviews as important things to do.
Susan: Did you take her advice?
Elaine: I did – but it was very hard to get started and I was pretty nervous at the beginning. It was helpful that I had a strong support system personally and they were very encouraging about “just sending out that first email asking for an informational interview!”
Susan: Were people responsive when you reached out to them?
Elaine: They were amazing. Most people got back to me, were happy to talk with me and gave me good constructive feedback about how I could keep improving. They helped me sharpen the focus of my questions and helped me work on better ways to describe my real interests.They were kind, and the more people I spoke with the less nervous I became.
Susan: What was the most important thing that you took away from these interviews?
Elaine: Well I think I greatly improved my interviewing skills and my ability to present myself as a strong candidate. I became more confident and more comfortable in those situations and kind of used them as practice for the real thing – the real interviews. I also think that I learned a lot about how businesses are organized and the benefits and challenges of certain kinds of roles. They also suggested that I use my alumni network from school and that turned out to be a great piece of advice. KSC alumni were so responsive and encouraging!
Susan: How did you put together your resume? Did you get help on that?
Elaine: I did a lot of research online about what is important in resumes and how to organize them so I think I had the content down pretty well, but I did have a friend’s father look at mine and make suggestions and help with formatting.
Susan: How did the interviewing process go?
Elaine: Some were better than others. I think that the way an interview is constructed is very telling about the company. I felt most comfortable when it was over a zoom call, it felt more professional.
Susan: Were recruiters helpful?
Elaine: Some were, and others were absolutely not. Some simply don’t respond or give you any direction. But the recruiter I worked with on the job I am going into was terrific. He kept me informed on where things were in the process, offered thoughts on my thank you emails throughout the process and gave me clear feedback.
Susan: That seems to be everyone’s experience – a lot of ghosting out there from recruiters and when you find a strong one they can really make a difference. You mentioned that you walked away from a job offer – can you share why?
Elaine: It was so hard to turn it down because I had been searching for a while and didn’t know if I was going to get another offer anytime soon! But I did not feel like the company had any commitment to its employees. This role would have been 100% commission and that did not feel right. I believe that if they are hiring you and training you – you should be compensated through that process. I just didn’t think it was right for me, so I turned it down.
Susan: So you start your new job in a couple of weeks. Can you tell us what you will be doing and why this feels right to you?
Elaine: Your first job after college is extremely important. Once you land that first job the value of your resume dissipates. I will be working at John Hancock as an insides sales support specialist. I know that this is right for me because there is a lot of room for growth within this company.
Susan: Is there any message that you would like to leave your fellow recent graduates out there still looking for that first professional role with?
Elaine: I would tell you all to talk with everyone! You never know who is going to be able to help you and the more people that know what you want, the more possibility there is for you.
Susan: Elaine, I want to congratulate you again for landing that first job in these challenging times and thank you for sharing your thoughts with your peers. The things you highlighted are some of the most important building blocks of a successful job search. Talking to everyone about what you are looking for, accessing and leveraging your alumni network, getting confidence in interviews, having strong material and not taking a role where you know you aren’t going to be successful. They are even more important in times like this when the job pool is dramatically smaller. It is hard out there. Candidates like you that get jobs today are working hard for them – and being prepared and learning as you go is crucial.
It is also obvious from your thank you post on LinkedIn that you understand the importance of staying in touch and thanking people who helped along the way. Great Job!!
Although we did not work with Elaine, we specialize in working with college students and recent graduates as they transition from college to career. Contact us for a free consultation if you or your child needs support in this transition. Contact us at Sue@LaunchingU.com. We are here to help!