At the end of a busy semester, many students are preparing to go home and indulge in wintertime activities like drinking caramel-flavored beverages and talking to relatives who have hearing aids on the phone. For college seniors like myself who have no idea what they want to do, the holiday season will be comprised of updating our LinkedIn profiles, stretching our resumes to the point of lying and applying to jobs that may or may not sound promising.
Some of our friends have been working toward their career goals since freshman year. Some have been proactive in obtaining internships in several fields, distilling attractive options from careers that are not as appealing.
And then, there are the dregs of college society. The kids who have no idea what the hell they want to do, but they need to figure it out before their childhood room becomes an Airbnb.
It’s time to start separating dreams from reality. At the same time your little cousin is learning the truth about Santa Claus, you will learn the truth that becoming a professional ventriloquist is not in the cards. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to accomplish our dream goals, but we may need to put them on hold until we find a steady and comfortable employment opportunity.
So how does one find a job when they have no idea what path they want to follow? After three full days of applying to jobs, I find that I’m qualified to impart all of my newfound wisdom on any unemployed undergraduate peasants who are reading this. I would advise everyone, from freshmen to seniors, to start with the basics.
Make an appointment with the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development to update resumes, write cover letters, create a LinkedIn profile and learn about alumni networks and other networking opportunities.
All of these tasks can be daunting if you have trouble making your trivial college experiences appear meaningful. Make sure to market your perpetual confusion and insecurity as “openness” and “willingness to try new things.”
In discovering what you want to do, you will also discover what you don’t want as a career. Try watching TV shows and movies and seeing what jobs your favorite characters have. Do they look like they’re having fun? Ask yourself, would you want to be the next Don Draper, Michael Scott or Liz Lemon?
Another method of process of elimination can be done with the help of your family. At Christmas, go around to every relative and ask them every job they’ve ever had and whether they’d give them a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down.” This is probably the best career filter out there.
Rejection will be frustrating. Although you may want to seek help from a medical professional if you’re rejected from over 50 jobs, it’s OK. Of course, an alternative to working would be befriending a bitter older neighbor and eventually have him bequeath you his Gran Torino upon his gang-related death, but we can’t all have a Hollywood ending.
If you experience stress during your job search, remember all the important things in your life that keep you going. Whether it’s your family, your education or the fact that this is the best your skin is ever going to look, let it give you the strength to be both persistent and obnoxious.
Kristen DiPietra is a senior double-majoring in English and human development.