Name: Jennifer Padron
Current role: Account manager at a marketing agency
Job Search length: Seven months
When I graduated from college, at first, life indulged me. I had a paid position as a full-time intern for a global snack food brand. I spent eight months filling my head with vast amounts of knowledge in my field, and learning lessons great and small (great being how to interact with the media, small being how to un-jam the copier). Ultimately, there was no full-time position available to be offered at the end of my internship.
The next six months were like playing a game. At first, the hunt for my first “real” job felt like a fun challenge. I’d find something that intrigued me during one of my many online searches, giddily reply, and await a response. After a lot of waiting, the game had gone on too long, and I was tired of feeling, well, tired. And broke. And defeated. Job-searching became my full-time job. I would wake up, eat breakfast, apply for jobs, take a lunch break and walk the dog, send resumes out, break for dinner and walk the dog, and apply for more jobs, all the while refreshing my e-mail continuously, just in case.
I applied for hundreds of jobs (no kidding), and interviewed for about ten positions. Some interviews went better than others. There was the position I applied for at a temp agency an hour and a half from my home. The position sounded fantastic, so I dressed in my nicest pant suit and memorized my resume, only to be told at the end of the interview that the job I had applied for was filled. Then there was the interview at a green engineering firm that I was positive I nailed. I met with the CEO, we talked business and shared a laugh, and he said I’d hear from him within two weeks. After the two weeks were up, I got in touch to say I was still very interested. Two more weeks after that, the empathetic human resources rep called to deliver the bad news.
However, with each meeting, I learned something new and improved my technique for the next time. During one interview, I noticed that I kept saying “I love it!” after almost everything the employer said. I “loved” that the building had history, that they had an office cat, and that I would have a tiny office with an even tinier desk. I knew I should stop saying it, but I was nervous, so it escaped from my lips after every other sentence. Though I’m sure that my enthusiasm was evident, I took the rejection letter I received in the mail a week later as a hint: tone it down.
I also figured out how important it is to always, always ask questions. I learned this lesson the hard way, after missing out on a few great opportunities because I was speechless at the end of the interview. The employer wants to know that you’re interested, and that you have a stake in the company and in your own career.
Also, the more I interviewed, my vision of what I wanted became clearer. It’s easy to forget that while an employer is interviewing you, you’re also interviewing them. After several interviews at large, corporate firms, I decided that I could make more of an impact at a smaller company. I also realized that it was important for me to be a part of a team environment, and not to be isolated with my work.
Finally I interviewed at my—spoiler alert—current place of work, after applying for the position on a popular online job forum, as I had applied for hundreds of others. As cheesy as it sounds, I got “the feeling” as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. Maybe it was because I was so genuinely impressed by the company’s work, or maybe it’s because I truly felt confident in myself and what I wanted. I think it was a mixture of both. I went into the interview feeling self-assured and was able to hold great conversations with several of my interviewers. When the end of our meeting rolled around, I was prepared with several thoughtful questions.
I was called back for a second interview about a week later. Though I hadn’t had direct experience with every aspect of the job I was applying for, I felt that the opportunity to learn and grow was strong. The interviewers emphasized the value of learning from “the bottom up”, which I appreciated. As cliché as it sounds, the position just felt like a good fit. They thought so, too; on my birthday, they called me and offered me a job.
Through this seven-months long process I found out that it’s important to keep an open mind, but also to listen to that gut instinct. And when the right opportunity did come along, the Go-Getter Girl inside of me was grateful… and ready to rock it!
– Jennifer Padron