“How did you get a job so fast?!” It’s a question I’ve been asked so many times since I started my job as a Social Media Editor, just one day after graduation.
Finding a job is definitely a struggle. I’ve seen the most talented friends get rejected from top-tier companies — people who graduated summa cum laude, have stacks on stacks of achievements on their resume, have had multiple internships at prestigious companies. And I’ve seen people who haven’t lifted a finger — never did any homework, slept through classes, shrugged at the notion of getting more experience — get great, stable jobs that they’re happy with.
The truth is, your situation doesn’t guarantee you a seat at any table. Some people get lucky, have the connections, were in the right place at the right time. Some work hard and survive the everyday grind to make it to where they want to be. But the one thing that people who haven’t taken a risk to push toward their goals say is: “It’s not fair!”
Let me tell you my story…
How I Nabbed Those Internships & Broke Into The Industry I Wanted To Work In
I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t think about getting an internship until the summer before my senior year. I was an English major (cue the “What do you even do with an English degree?”) and I wanted to do something fun, analytical, maybe even strange. And I ended up nabbing three internships over the summer:
- A beauty editorial internship at an online beauty publication
- A digital marketing internship at a management consulting company
- A copywriter internship at a small men’s lifestyle start-up
Three internships?! Yes, three. Each would represent some part of my interests that I wanted to further explore. And each taught me exactly what I wanted and didn’t want in a career.
Here’s my advice to those looking for internships:
- Write down the things you’re most interested in learning more about. Filter your search on those topics (marketing, business, strategy, programming, etc)
- Write down a list of the things you might value in a company (culture, transparency, work life, etc)
- Aim to find companies that will provide you with the environment you need to grow
People try to get internships just to get internships or a big name on their resume without realizing that the best way to grow professionally — and personally — is by being somewhere that unleashes that potential. It’s more valuable to have done in-depth projects that made a difference at a small company than busy work and fetching coffee at a large one.
One more important step that I forgot to address is networking. Yeah, yeah, you hate talking to people. But trust me, even connecting with one person will give you the leverage you need to make smarter career decisions. I went overkill, but it definitely strengthened my understanding of working in the marketing industry. Here’s what I did:
- Combed through my entire school alumni directory and LinkedIn to search for people to cold-call who might be able to tell me more about specific industries and what it’s like to work in their position
- Asked specific questions geared toward my interests and asked them to discuss the difficulties of their day-to-day routine and what skillset I might need to work in a similar job
- After our chat (yes, chat — you’re not asking for a job, just advice), I made sure to keep in touch after a few months to keep them in my network
Read more about how I was promoted from copywriter intern to Director of Content in six months — and how you can take steps toward working smarter during your internship on this post.
How I Got A CEO’s Attention With Just One Email & Landed A Job In 2 Weeks
All of my previous experience looked awesome on paper. But I soon began to notice that no matter how many jobs I applied to, I wasn’t getting any callbacks.
At this point, I had grown restless. It was two weeks before graduation and I was getting pretty darn antsy. That’s when I noticed a listing for a Social Media Editor position at Investopedia. I remembered everything I did to hustle my way to Director of Content at that start-up and thought to myself, “Alright, I got nothing to lose and a job to gain.”
So here’s what I did:
- I found the CEO’s email address on LinkedIn
- I created a project on Medium, analyzing their Twitter account and breaking down what I thought needed to be changed
- And I sent it off to the CEO
And I received a response 4 minutes later: “Isabella, this is a really impressive email — one of the best I have gotten. Lots of pre-work done by you.”
To learn how to craft a project-based job application like I did, read this post.
I was CC’d off to a bunch of other people within the company who were interested in hearing more from me. And I never even attached my resume in my original message.
I caught the CEO’s interest because I did something that showcased exactly what skills I could offer without even having to explain it on paper. It was about showing, not telling. And that project — which just took all of a good three hours — showcased that I was willing to jump right into the work.
After sending off my resume, everything went very quickly:
- The next day, I had a chat with the recruiter
- The next week, I had a chat and an assessment given to me by my future manager
- The day after graduation, I had my in-person interview in NYC
- And the next day, I was offered the job, still living off of the high of graduation
However — there’s a disclaimer. I won’t say that the email guaranteed me the job at all. It only got my foot in the door.
So here are the most important parts of this whole process. I did these things:
- Believed in my successes. I wasn’t afraid to talk about my achievements in a way that elevated my resume (not reiterated it)
- Understood my job descriptions and all of my responsibilities — as well as my self-worth
- Asked thoughtful questions by paying close attention to what was happening in front of me, not relying on what I had prepared
- Acted like myself — because I was not willing to give up my personality and integrity for my workplace
In Conclusion — Don’t Be Afraid To Take Risks
Especially when it comes to your career and your professional goals. You can send off a billion job applications and not get a response back. Maybe you’ll even try out my method and contact the CEO or someone higher up in the company but still never get a reply.
And that’s just how it is. Nothing in life is guaranteed — but you’re sitting at 0% chance of change if you don’t even take action.
You could spend three hours doing a project to show the CEO of a company you’re really interested in. Or you can spend three hours mindlessly submitting your resume to twenty different companies that you don’t actually care that much about.
Originally posted on Medium.