When I graduated college two years ago I was on top of my game. I had prestigious internships under my belt, held high leadership positions in my club activities and maintained a 4.0 GPA my entire senior year. I was killing it. But I graduated jobless.
I knew so many of my friends and classmates who jumped at the first job they were offered. They had a salary with benefits and went off to move into their “adult” apartments. Me on the other hand, spent my summer going to the gym, working on my LinkedIn page, doing informational interviews and volunteering at a women’s shelter. Most importantly, I didn’t stress. I knew I was talented and I knew the right position would come available when the time was right.
I moved back home and saved up my graduation money. I took the summer to reflect on what I really wanted to do. I had a couple opportunities to go back to my old internships to be a news desk assistant. Although, being a desk assistant at a network news company is very competitive, in my heart I knew I wouldn’t be happy. I wanted to work in online news, not T.V. anymore. So I became picky.
A career expert told me my senior year that when picking your first job you need to consider these three things: Location, Salary and Position. Your first job needs to check off at least two of your requirements.
So I spent the summer doing some deep reflection and talking to a lot of different people. One producer I spoke with at Al Jazeera America told me that she wished she knew how to code. I signed up for a coding the next day. (Tip: Even learning basic HTML is beyond useful).
I’m happy that I waited and was picky. I was offered my fellowship at HuffPost three months after graduating and feel incredibly blessed every single day. All the people I knew who jumped at the first opportunity given to them without exploring their other options, are no longer in those positions or are really unhappy.
Now I know that not everyone has the same privilege that I had. For many people, student loans will come knocking on your door and bills will kick in. I gave myself a deadline of six months to find a job and if I didn’t then my strategy would change. I told myself that I would become a waitress or a secretary until I found a position that was the right fit for me. Do what you have to do that works for your lifestyle.
The time between graduating and starting your first job is the most liberating and scary time of your life. There are so many options out there that it’s a shame to settle. Be proactive and be mindful. And of course believe in yourself always.