Job hunting is grueling and can come with a lot of disappointment and unexpected turns. Many recent graduates also feel immense pressure to find their first post-grad job. As a graduating senior, I’ve found job hunting while balancing school and work to be exhausting, and I know many students feel the same. To gain some support and insight, I spent my spring break connecting with several of my peers, alumni and professionals to hear their stories about securing their first jobs, and I want to share them with you! This is a two-part series about stories on the job hunt, tips and tricks surrounding applications, and some warm words of encouragement.

Jennifer Aspland - Alumna

Account Coordinator @ Taco Bell Design

Business Administration: Marketing

Jennifer Aspland

Q: What was it like looking for your first job?

A: My experience looking for my first job definitely had its ups and downs. I started looking for a job around March/April during my senior year and ended up interviewing for a full-time position for my internship (RPA Advertising). That’s when the pandemic hit and there was a hiring freeze. I went back home for the summer and started networking with people; I ended up chatting with an alumni who gave me advice about graduating during the ‘08 recession as well as people at Taco Bell (my dream job). My first job ended up being a temp role doing administrative work for a staffing agency. In the middle of my third temp job, I ended up interviewing back at RPA and got the job. This was my first career job.

Q: Any tips?

A:

  • Networking is key! Being a student is the perfect excuse to get to know people and understand what they do. Stay consistent and passionate.

  • Resumes - It doesn’t work to send out the same generic resume over and over. The more generic your resume is, the harder it is to stand out – tailor it to the role and be creative! Add metrics.

  • Interviews - It’s always great to practice with a friend! As soon as the interview is over, write down every single question you can remember them asking you, because it might come up agan. Make sure you have an elevator pitch for “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” Always have at least three questions to ask at the end of the interview. An example is, “What would it look like for somebody to be successful in this role?” or “What are some opportunities for improvement for someone who’s been in this role in the past but didn’t succeed?” Also, take every interview that you can get, for the experience!


Q: Any words of encouragement?

A:

  1. Learn in unexpected places.

  2. Make sure you are connected to a community.

  3. You don’t have to have it all together!


Bella Starlin - Alumna

Finance Intern @ Ping Cares

Business Administration: Finance

Bella Starlin

Q: What was it like looking for your first job?

A: I found my current job, my first post-grad position, by reconnecting with a person I met during a faith and entrepreneurship conference. The conference had both undergrad and MBA students, so I got to connect with people who not only had similar interests as I did, but also had actual job experience in different roles. I made use of this opportunity to find out what the jobs I'd considered actually looked like in real life, asked lots of questions and somehow left a positive impression on a UChicago MBA grad who was working on his tech startup. And now I'm working with him to build a senior-centric tech product that I’m very passionate about!

Q: Any tips or tricks?

A:

  • Candidate Club: The Job Interview Experience - This podcast provides ideal formats for interview answers and general job application advice--super helpful during the prep stage prior to interviews!

  • Build your LinkedIn profile ASAP and actively network on it.

  • Get different people to look over your resume (preferably those in your intended industry) and continuously refine it.

  • Take free certification exams (e.g. LinkedIn Excel assessment) and add to your toolkit (e.g. take coding courses).

  • Be intentional with remaining connected to the people you've met by scheduling occasional meetings

  • Shamelessly slide into LinkedIn direct messages or send emails to ask for opportunities. The worst answer you can get is a “no,” but who knows what opportunity you might stumble upon.


Q: Any words of encouragement?

A: Learning from my own experience, I'd greatly encourage college students to go out and network like crazy: LinkedIn coffee chats, Biola's career fairs, club meetings, etc. You’ll find out about all sorts of opportunities from these interactions and you never know which of these may even change the direction you're heading. I was able to keep in contact with one of the career fair recruiters, who so graciously connected me with industry professionals and provided referrals for positions not even in his company! You may not get a job with most people you meet, but many are kind-hearted individuals with so much to learn from.

Check out Part 2 to hear more stories from professionals and students! Part 2 of this two-part blog post will be published April 18.