Landing your first job out of university is daunting whether the job market is hot or in hot water.
I found myself second-guessing everything a month before graduation. Did I choose the right career for my skillset? Will I ever find a job that fulfills both my passions and interests? These are valid questions, but I had to shake them off to focus on the truth: Your first job is not a lifelong sentence, and you’re in the driver’s seat, determining the ultimate destination.
During the fall of 2021, I entered my last semester of college knowing I could succumb to my anxiety or take charge in finding a job. I began using the online job posting resources that most imminent graduates look through. But, as young professionals know, many job listings require an unreasonable amount of experience, especially for someone who received a media education outside of the East Coast.
My fears worsened.
A year into my degree, I had a strange intuition to join a professional Facebook group for women in PR. My gut told me that I needed to observe how PR pros interacted with each other to begin learning their language and assimilate into their sphere.
I observed women who owned companies sharing insights into the business and criticisms of their interns, giving me a sense of behaviors to avoid. I took notes as account executives asked for advice on getting a client into a tier-one outlet — even when the story wasn’t that compelling.
No matter the topic, the members’ candidness was more impactful than the bulk of my classes.
Every time I read a thread, I analyzed the conversation through the lens of the best advice I received from my favorite professor: “Be the person they want to grab coffee with.” Eventually, I reached out to a New York City account supervisor named Catrine.
Catrine posted a job opening in the Facebook group for an associate account executive at a boutique healthcare PR firm, an area I had not considered. The role aligned with my skills and interest, so I reached out to her via messenger — a lot less daunting than a LinkedIn connection request. The low-stress message made me feel like I could have coffee with her and ask honest questions that would receive honest answers.
We had a brief conversation about the position before I met with senior leadership at her agency, so the process felt more like mentorship than an interview. We discussed the types of clients, the team structure and what type of work I would be doing. After talking to her, I felt the winds of change come over me – I could apply for a position outside of my expertise like healthcare PR.
I got the job.
Now a year later, I am thriving in the industry, recently moved to New York City and still work alongside Catrine.
Going from a safe and cozy college life to the workforce is undoubtedly anxiety-inducing. No matter what I tell you or your advisers say, you will undoubtedly still feel nervous. But good things happen to those who trust the unconventional.
Be open to new approaches and have conversations that explore opportunities without expecting to immediately land a job offer. Pursue every road and follow it until it leads you to where you need to be.
Abbie Childs is an account executive at The Bliss Group.