As my December college graduation approached, my excitement about what was to come increased, as did my worries of finding employment post-graduation. Reading countless stories on job-hunting nightmares during a recession, not only from recent college graduates but also from seasoned and qualified candidates, was enough to put knots in my stomach.
I spent my last year of college immersed in my course work and tried to gain as much public relations experience from interning as possible, which, lets face it, is not easy. These days most internships consist of doing all the tedious work no one else wants or has the time to do. During my numerous newspaper and coffee runs, I couldn’t help but wonder how prepared I was to go out into the “real world” and compete with overqualified candidates for a position. Sure, I completed three internships during my college years, but does juggling six Starbucks drinks back to the office qualify as a resume-worthy skill?
I did all I could to stand out from the intern pack. I volunteered for every task presented, stayed late to help finish reports and made it a habit to ask my supervisors if they needed help with anything if it was a slow day at the office. Throughout all three internships I made many contacts but quickly realized it was all up to me to secure a post-graduation job.
A couple of months before graduation I began to scroll through job posts on various sites almost daily. I did not want to miss a single opportunity to send out my resume. Public relations in Miami is a rather small community, so genuine and serious job posts were scarce.
Early November, I came across a job post for a bilingual account coordinator position at Newman PR. It sounded like the perfect position for a recent college graduate so I immediately knew competition for it would be big. I stayed up that night to write a cover letter and sent it out with my resume. My hopes diminished after a couple weeks passed and I had not heard back.
Two weeks before my graduation, after accepting the fact that a PR job was a hard thing to find in Miami, I was prepared to start applying for non-PR positions. That is, until I received an email requesting an interview at Newman PR. I was ecstatic. I went home that night and researched the company to familiarize myself with as much as possible before my interview.
Walking into the office for the first time was nerve-wracking, to say the least. I usually do not get nervous before job interviews but this one was different. This was not another job to get me through a year or so of school, it was the first stepping-stone of my career in public relations.
At the end of my interview I was informed that I needed to complete a writing test. I knew this test would make or break my chances of being hired. Being finals week at school, this was one more test to add on to my schedule. I completed and returned the test as soon as I could and, to my delight, received a call back for a second interview.
A couple days and a revised press release later, I was offered the position. Just one weekend shy of college graduation, I had a job in my career field. It was more than I could ask for. While out with friends, a stranger overheard me sharing my new employment news and offered me her congratulations. She proceeded to tell me about her current situation as a recently graduated nurse struggling to find work. As if I did not feel fortunate enough, this perfect stranger’s congratulations and words of encouragement made me feel even more grateful.
After mentally preparing myself for a tough couple months of job-hunting, I had to change gears and instead start reading up on the clients I would be working with. It was now time to put my acquired PR skills and work ethic to the test as I entered the “real world.”