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Finding My First Job Out Of College

I never really believed people when they would say that your last year of college flies by.

Wow, was I wrong! My last semester of senior year came around at the blink of an eye. To be completely honest, I really thought I had it all figured out. I had multiple internships throughout college both during school and in the summer. I didn’t expect the job hunt to be easy, but I definitely was naive as to how competitive it would be.

I was applying for tons of jobs online, but I wasn’t hearing back from everywhere that I applied and felt discouraged looking on LinkedIn and seeing things like, “350+ applicants.” There were days when I felt defeated and would compare myself to other people my age, even if we weren’t looking to work in the same industry. This made me feel lost, not only in my job search, but it also made me reevaluate my decision to move to NYC—being a little fish in a big pond. I am originally from New Jersey, but my family now lives in Miami, so moving to NYC to pursue my career was definitely risky. I kept hearing over and over again that there were tons of people in my shoes and that what was meant to be would be. I was told to be patient and continue meeting with as many people as I could and explore every opportunity possible. As frustrated as I felt, I’ve never been one to take the easy way out when things get difficult, so I continued applying to jobs and decided to meet with a recruiter.

I didn’t want to just sit around and wait so I decided to explore freelancing. I studied creative advertising and graphic design in college so I jumped at the opportunity to put my design skills to use wherever I could. A former coworker of mine from a past internship connected me with an amazing woman who had started her own consulting business. I began assisting and supporting her with social media management and graphic design projects.

My freelance work began to pick up, but I was still actively interviewing and putting myself out there. December rolled around and suddenly I had an abundance of interviews scheduled. I got home from an interview one night and my phone lit up with a notification that Nikki had accepted my LinkedIn request. I clicked on her profile and I saw that Something Navy was hiring a full-time intern. Without any hesitation, I reached out with my resume and cover letter. She got back to me and scheduled my first-round interview. I showed up, resume in hand (always important to bring a hard copy with you!) and I had a one-on-one meeting with Tara. Something that has stuck with me to this day was how nervous I was to interview at Something Navy. Obviously, all interview experiences are nerve-wracking because you have a certain amount of time to prove why you are the best for the position, but I was more nervous than usual at SN. I had two other interviews that same week elsewhere and while I was nervous, this felt much different. In fact, at another interview I had that week, I felt so comfortable that I couldn’t help but wonder if it was really the right place for me. I wanted to be challenged, to learn and to be somewhere that I could really grow.

When I walked out of my meeting with Tara, I called both my mom and my sister to tell them how it went. I realized I was so nervous because of how badly I wanted it. I felt eager and excited about the idea of a full-time internship opportunity at SN because I wanted to prove to this group of women that I admire that I would be an asset to join the team in a larger role. I came back into SN for a second round where I met with Nikki and Anna and then a few days later, I heard back from Tara offering me the position. I started in January and transitioned into my current role as Digital Media Assistant in June!

For anyone that may be in the same position as I was—keep putting yourself out there! The most valuable thing I learned post-graduation is how vital it is to network. Take a chance and go for the job that you feel challenged and nervous about. Follow up after interviews—everyone’s time is valuable and even if you walk out of an interview and feel like the job isn’t the right fit for you, you are still learning about yourself and what you are looking for by embracing the opportunity to meet with different people from different places. There will be some bumps in the road, but I think that is a part of the journey and those bumps are still valuable for personal growth. Your twenties are all about finding yourself and what you love to do! Everything will work out in the end.

By Sydney Mastrandrea

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