Advice from a senior with a job

By Se Young Lee

One of the most important choices we have to make in this age is what we’re going to do for a living. The jobs I considered included: writer, architect, jazz musician, diplomat, Army officer, translator for the CIA, a Buddhist monk and a crazy ascetic who hasn’t seen a barbershop in 10 years. Some of us struggle with this decision well beyond the age that is socially acceptable (basically by the time you graduate.)

I decided on journalism during my senior year in college because I wanted to write about practical things. This choice came with the certain path of working odd and long hours and living in a cardboard box at a random street corner mumbling about how much money I could have made as an investment banker if I only had sucked it up and decided to be bored out of my mind every day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. for the first five years on the job, then from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the rest of my life until retirement.

Despite the recent hardships inflicted upon the journalism community these days, it is still tough to land an internship, never mind a job – and I’m sure the story is the same for any other field of work as the number of college grads increases each year. After more than a dozen interviews in person with recruiters from all over the country, sending out dozens of resumes to states I’ve never even been to and getting rejected by the vast majority of them, I have three tips on how to go about making an impression and possibly landing a job, aside from the obvious like showing up on time and looking presentable.

  • Have some scripted answers or questions: Having at least a standard response to questions like “why do you want to be a ___” is a good idea, if only to show that you are serious about the interview. You should vary what you say, of course, to avoid looking too scripted and generic. Think about what you would ask in an interview if you were a recruiter, and you should be able anticipate some questions. Also make sure you have some questions to get more information from the recruiter, as well as to show that you didn’t just decide to do the interview on a whim.
  • Have an idea about how to market yourself: Recruiters see dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants in a short period of time. For you to have a legitimate shot, you need to distinguish yourself in some way. Highlighting a certain skill, trait or ability you have that the recruiter’s looking will give you a leg up. This requires some homework.
  • Be honest: This saves time that would have been wasted on the foreplay. Be direct and concise; tell them what they need to know about you and ask what you need to know about them. Your time is valuable, as well as the recruiter’s. It won’t win them over, but at least the time you spent will be productive.
  • But, most importantly, be confident. Show that you’re ready to jump into the foray. The mere fact that you got an interview means you have a shot. And don’t despair if you don’t get that job. Learn from that interview, talk to the recruiter about what you can do to improve, and keep trying. Sometimes you just have to knock a little harder for that door to open.