Let’s just take a moment to talk about the bigger picture behind our post-grad situation. I graduated college two months ago and am still job-less. I’ll admit it, I’ve been picky – I’m living at home and can afford to take my time. I studied public relations and marketing and am so not interested in working for a huge PR firm to write press releases for eight hours a day. So I started my job search by only looking into companies I liked. I want to work somewhere innovative and creative, amongst people who share similar interests – I know, I’m so unique right? Basically, I was searching for my dream job. That was my first mistake.
I started to lose hope when none of the companies I liked were neither hiring nor emailing me back. Was I going to have to settle and work at one of those old school marketing firms? Would they even hire me? All I wanted was a job that didn’t make me want to die of boredom and the chance at saving money to travel, but no opportunities were coming my way. I read an article on the VICE Snapchat titled “Hey Recent Grads, Don’t Let the World Kill Your Dreams” which I then sent to all my Snapchat contacts. The article focused on young professionals who had graduated a couple of years ago. Most of them were still working at the first place that had hired them post-graduation and they admitted it was not the dream job they thought it would be. This made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed, which was actually reassuring. The sad part though, was that even though none of them were happy with their current job situation, none of them did anything about it because they were comfortable.
When first graduating college, a lot of people have dreams about traveling and doing mission trips and living outside of the country for a couple years and so on and so forth, but does anyone actually go through with this? I mean, once you get a stable job and you start growing in your company and you get a raise and you get a better apartment and you start paying a higher rent – when do you find the time? The truth is you probably won’t. People lose sight of their goals in life because they get sucked into trying to be “successful”, but what even is success? Success is subjective – it means something different to every person. There is a lot of pressure, especially in this country, to “succeed”. Graduating from a highly ranked university and getting a high paying job and in turn working for the rest of your life is not everyone’s definition of success and it’s important that people are reminded of that. Becoming “the best” in your industry might be some people’s definition, though, and that’s okay, too.
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, Paul Arden, 2003
Side note: I was watching an old episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” last month (don’t judge me, it’s basically the same as watching the History Channel if the episode is older than five years) and Rob had just graduated from UCLA and Kourtney had gotten him an internship somewhere. Suddenly it hit me, if a Kardashian wasn’t “too good” to take an internship after graduation than maybe I’m not either? Maybe it’s okay and that’s how you start off? And maybe my first job won’t be the head of a marketing department? Maybe.
At the same time, what I’m trying to convey here, what I’ve been reminding myself of these past months, is that there has to be some sort of balance. Traveling for the rest of my life without a real job is not realistic, but working at a desk everyday until I drop dead isn’t either.
Maybe right now, I can’t expect to get hired at my dream company and be offered a million vacation days, but if I put in the work and I get the experience necessary, I can one day achieve this dream of creating things I am passionate about at work while still having time for myself to travel.
So, moral of the story is, DON’T GET COMFORTABLE. Your first job will most likely suck, but you have to start somewhere. It’s okay to strive for better and not settle, but don’t be too picky either. More importantly, always remember to follow your dreams, not society’s – don’t let them suck you in. Figure out how to achieve your perfect balance.
You have time. You are young. You will make it.
So now that we’ve addressed the main points: 1. Working is necessary no matter how much of a nomad you plan on being and 2. Your first job – or couple of jobs, will probably not be great, to put it lightly; lets talk about our third point: starting off a career is not about making money, it’s about building a reputation.
When starting off, if you find you are not being handed opportunities, then create them. Basically, hire yourself. If you are a photographer, offer to shoot for a friend for free to gain exposure, don’t wait to get asked. If you’re looking to get into graphic design, create a logo for a friend’s company, reach out to businesses whose Instagram’s are slacking and offer to design flyers for their events. This is a great way to gain experience and applies to most creative careers. You can’t expect to get paid the same as other people who have been working for years. Instead, focus on the reputation you are building and the connections you are making. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years that person you made a website for will get really successful and you’ll be the one they hire to do their graphic design.
There are opportunities to grow, learn and network all around you. All you have to do is put in the effort to find them and show up. And then maybe talk to people while you’re there. I know it’s hard, but we have to do it.
Start at your own university. Schools offer career services, events, workshops and talks whose sole purpose is to better your career path. Take advantage.
The Wolfsonian FIU offers community events all the time. Next month they’re holding a “Makers Mixer” where they encourage you to bring a stack of business cards and meet “artistic professionals, entrepreneurs and creators of culture.” Experts will be giving advice on tricky topics like freelancing and branding – members get in free, $10 for non-members. Our very own Pola Bunster even spoke at an event here a while back so you know it’s legit. Check out the line up of experts and RSVP! No one is going to do it for you. Remember, you only regret the chances you don’t take. Okay, I’ll stop now.
If you don’t already know about The New Tropic, get familiar. They’re in charge of helping Miami locals be a little cooler by keeping you informed on what’s new and what’s happening where. They also create events that engage the community by doing awesome things and if you haven’t been to one, I really don’t know what to tell you. There is something for everyone so stop acting like you’re too busy applying to jobs when we all know you’re on Netflix (is that just me?). Best of all, they care about us who are lost in this post-grad world. The name of their last event really spoke to me on a personal level. It’s called “Get Your Sh*t Together”. Ah, they know me too well. This workshop, hosted by Miami’s Independent Thinkers and Gallery 2612, was “aimed at helping young, emerging and established artists better their art careers.” They also host a monthly networking party series called “Miami’s MOST Interesting MEN” that features a local community leader to raise money for local domestic violence prevention and other women’s rights issues. It’s organized by the Millennial’s Project, yet another organization you should familiarize yourself with. They’re a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women. Their goal: to create an even playing field for the sexes. slow clap.
Go check out The New Tropic’s list of upcoming events. This is a great way to get advice on your current situation but also meet people who you can make connections with. It’s called networking and apparently we’re supposed to do this? Yes, yes we are.
WeWork, a co-working space, also hosts events that you could benefit from if only you’d show up. On August 3rd, they’re teaching basic code, and on August 10th they’re holding a workshop on mindfulness and self awareness because “the only way to achieve one’s future goals is to be present now”. Check out the full line-up of events here. Also, if you’re looking for a place to work, WeWork’s main purpose is to offer creatives just that. They have available desks and offices in Miami Beach.
Another co-working space offering events catered to us is Made at the Citadel. They don’t currently have any events listed on their website, but check their Instagram for more up to date news. In the past, they’ve held career fairs where they matched up creative professionals with great innovative companies looking to hire. AKA keep your eyes peeled. I, unfortunately, missed the last career fair and still sometimes crawl into a ball and cry in my room by myself.
The easiest way to stay up to date is to follow all these companies on social media – especially Instagram. That way, when you’re very unproductively scrolling through your feed, wondering how these bloggers who travel year-round got so lucky with their “perfect” lives, one of these accounts will hopefully post about an upcoming event and get you out of bed. And just like that, it’s the start of a successful post-grad career! Yay to productivity!
Here are the Instagram accounts of some more places to check out: The Lab Miami, Filling Station Lofts, Creative Mornings. These places all offer cool workshops to help you out so actually click on these links.
There are so many places offering helpful resources, this list can go on and on, but I can’t be doing all the work for you – I, too am trying to make moves here!
So, I’ve hit my two-month mark. I’m going to listen to my own advice, put away the Netflix (not because I’m a strong independent woman, but because I finished the series I was watching) and start working on my career.
I’m going to go apply to more jobs now and RSVP to some workshops, while simultaneously looking at cheap flights out of the country. I hope the next time I talk to you we’ll both be employed and somewhat happy. Okay, let’s aim for employed and satisfied, but definitely not comfortable.