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Keep Cool while Figuring out Life After School

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Thomas Martino
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Published on March 26, 2014

This is a guest post Kayluis X. Peña for Student Stories. 

“Go to college they said. You’ll get a job they said.” This is a joke I’ve repeated several times in the last few weeks. Every time I mumble it to any graduating senior they laugh. Not the type of laugh that you get after watching smack cam videos on Vine, but the kind of nervous, so true laugh that screams out ‘OMG, I understand’.That laugh is comforting because it symbolizes that I’m not alone.

So if you’re a graduating senior with no post-grad plans, a junior confused about what you want to do, a sophomore still fumbling between studying medicine or English or a freshman thinking about which house party to crash this weekend, I want to laugh with you today and tell you that you are not alone. And if your parents are anything like mine they are still telling you to change your major to nursing (“quick money”), or asking you why you didn’t have a job lined up 2 years ago.

However do not fret, although I still don’t have a job, my last 4 years have qualified me to share a few tips on how to keep your cool while figuring out school (that rhymed) with you.

 1. Do your research. (Excel is your friend)

There is nothing worse than looking into grad school, or a job, or anything really without organization. At the beginning of my search I couldn’t remember where I applied, where I wanted to apply, or the contact info of key people. I quickly realized that an excel worksheet can give one peace of mind. Set it up by employer name, their contact info, job requirements, salary, location, so on and so forth. The amount of sanity this will give you is priceless.

2. Refine your resume. (Make your resume compete)

A resume is usually the first thing a recruiter looks at and one that doesn’t match the job can ruin your chances. I am personally looking for a career within a more creative setting (advertising/pr) and my businessy resume was not making the cut. It was complete and thorough, but boring. I added a little color and changed a few fonts and I landed an interview a week after.

3. Clean your social media. (My Twitter cost me a job. I think)

I have this weird theory that my Twitter kept me from landing a few jobs. I didn’t necessarily tweet anything too crazy, but I was known for tweeting a few four-letter words here and there. However, employers probably do not want you using those words in the office so why use them online? This being said you may want to put your accounts on private if you just can’t bring yourself to part with your rants, but if you’re like me and can’t stand not being ‘retweetable’ then you should consider cleaning up your image a little.

4. Pool your resources. (Email, Email, Email, even if you think you’re being annoying)

I’ve realized that the phrase ‘it’s who you know’ is more than just a catchy phrase, it’s the dang truth! It is one thing to submit your resume through a website hoping that they happen to look at it and think that it’s worthy of an interview, it’s another to send it directly to a key person’s inbox. Pool your resources. Contact your contacts and ask them to put you in contact with their contacts. Join groups that you have things in common with on LinkedIn (Greek life, major, companies). Do not delete your Facebook; one of those friends you have accumulated since middle school could be the key to your career, all you have to do is find out who.

5. Know your dreams. Follow them. You’re great. Don’t give up. (Where there’s a will there’s a way)

I have never been to NY, or LA, or Seattle, but it’s where I want to end up. For some reason that’s where my heart tells me to go so that’s where I’m aiming for. It’s okay if at first you land somewhere that doesn’t feel right; use that as a stepping stone to get to where you want to be, where you need to be. Life is too short for settling. As of now I don’t have anything set up, but contact me in 5 years and I’ll bet I’ll be cruising through the star-lined streets of Hollywood, walking my dog through central park, or enjoying a macchiato at the original Starbucks. I’m determined and you should be to.

 ** Now, for the most important advice that I can share with you: A little white lie to your parents never hurt anyone. If they are obsessed with the idea of you going to grad school, but you just don’t see that in your cards, just tell them that you are “looking into different programs”. Naming a few different schools will build you credibility too. This will help you avoid an argument and save you a few headaches. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re doing what you love. And your parents will eventually forgive you because, let’s face it, they have to.

Good luck to you!

About the Author: 

I am a graduating senior at Florida State University (Go Noles!) where I study marketing, media & communications studies. I wanted to be an actor, a newscaster, a reality TV star, and recently an advertising executive. I like to make people laugh and I’m a strong believer of not taking life too seriously. I probably use social media way too much, so follow my journey @KayloQue.

Thomas Martino

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