Lessons I Learned After 20+ Interviews
When I first began my job hunt, I had no idea the roller coaster I was about to jump on. I was so naïve, so unsure and so ready to lock something down so I could be the one to say to people, “I just graduated, and I have a job.” Unfortunately, things don’t always pan out the way you’d like them to. If you’re a planner like me, you constantly have to readjust your mindset after things don’t go exactly as you had anticipated (surprise, surprise).
No, instead of graduating with a job (and confidence), I walked across UNT’s stage with no job (besides my internship that was ending soon), no plan, and no idea what I was going to do next. It took a couple of weeks before I landed my fourth internship, which in hindsight was a blessing in disguise.
Fast forward a few months, and I have been searching for a “real” job for months, but what actually felt like years. Something you don’t learn in college is that looking for a job is very, very difficult when you already have one that takes up 40 hours of your week. Sure you have a consistent paycheck, but every interview you schedule has to be planned from start to finish. How do you get all your work done? You work overtime; you work after work; you work weekends; you do what ever you have to do to remain successful in your job. Just because you are looking, does not mean your current job responsibilities go away.
In the span of about four months, I had over 20 interviews in-person, over the phone and via Skype. I interviewed for jobs at Neiman Marcus, Capital One, Hilton, JCPenney, Michaels—pretty much any place you can imagine. While I had a lot of interviews at corporate places, the job I ended up getting is the complete opposite of a corporate environment, which I found is where I thrive the most. In the end, these interviews helped me get the job I was truly meant to have.
A few things I learned along the way:
Constantly Revise Your Resume
You may think your resume is perfect, but I promise you it’s not. I have revised my resume at least ten times, and I will continue editing it as I progress in my career. If you think it’s perfect, it’s time to change it. And if you can’t stop changing it, ask for help from friends, family, even professors from your college; you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you out. LinkedIn is also a great resource for general feedback and even mentorship.
Plan, Plan, Plan
If you are jobless and looking for a job, consider yourself lucky. Job hunting while maintaining a job is difficult, but not impossible. The key is to always be ten steps ahead, and never underestimate how long an interview is going to take. If I had an interview at 4pm and the place was 30 minutes away, I would leave at 3pm to make sure I made it there with enough time to breathe. There is no benefit in rushing yourself—take your time, relax and focus on the end goal. Even if you don’t have a job, you still need to coordinate your schedule in a way that allows for the most interviews per week. The more efficient you can be, the better. You may only have five interviews before you get the perfect job; or, if you’re like me, you interview with over 20 companies and land a job one month after you leave your previous one.
Always Be Grateful
Even if you realize at the end of the interview that the job isn’t for you, you should still appreciate the time the interviewer took out of their day to talk to you. Chances are, they are extremely busy and don’t have time for you to forget your interview, walk in late or reschedule at the last moment. Value people’s time. Your industry is probably a lot smaller than you think. Always assume that everyone knows everyone; you never know what they might say about you. Every interview is a new connection, and many times, those connections last a lifetime.
Do Your Homework
Before I went into an interview, I would review the company’s website, social media channels and job description to make sure I made the most of every question and answer. Being prepared is more than just bringing copies of your resume and portfolio—you need to show them the value you can bring to their business by being alert, attentive and receptive. I still remember a time when the interviewer (who is the owner of the company), was talking about a silly job title and I immediately knew the job title he was referring to, which lead to him responding, “You know my website better than I do!” This is the response you want to elicit.
Realize That Most Interviews Will Not Turn Into A Job
This is a harsh truth, but it’s the truth nonetheless. If you’ve just graduated from college, you are probably not going to land the perfect job a week after graduation. Job hunting is a long, tiring, emotionally draining process. If you’re not constantly disappointed and defeated, you’re probably doing something wrong. This is what the hunt is all about. It’s not about just getting a job; it’s about growing as a person, and a professional. I made so many mistakes and learned so many lessons in the four months I was searching for a job. I cried, laughed and celebrated throughout the journey and will truly never forget the people I met along the way.
Job hunting was a beautiful experience because although I got knocked down time and time again, at the end of it all I can look back and say that I have met some very smart, influential individuals who have all touched my life in some way.
I have met people who are passionate, innovative and truly dedicated to the work that they do. Sure, there were interviews where I thought, “What am I doing here?” but at the end of the whole process, I can truly say that these interviews have made me the professional I am today. I am not the person I was four months ago. I have pushed myself, trusted myself and let myself crumble, and I have made it through with no bruises or scars, just a lot of emotional strength.