As we graduate and leave the carefree comforts of college behind to enter the world of bills and responsibility, we face more challenges than our predecessors. In reality, the job market just isn’t what it used to be. So, what can we do?
I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2008 and had my goals set on finding a job in PR. The task at hand was not nearly as easy as I thought it was going to be. After a few months of sitting around applying for jobs that I wasn’t hearing back from, I decided to try a different approach.
I began looking into internships that would help me build my résumé in the field. After all, they aren’t only for college students. Many college graduates are now interning after graduation to gain more experience in their field. However, for me, internships just weren’t enough.
I have always loved dabbling in the sports and entertainment field, so I started looking for volunteer opportunities in the area that would allow me to have some fun while helping me gain more experience in PR. I kept in contact with past internship bosses, and volunteered at various events those companies were attending or hosting. I also volunteered back-to-back years at the local College Football Bowl Game and for various sports teams at fan fests and other events where they were looking for extra help. Through a good friend from college, I was offered the opportunity to volunteer at Farm Aid with Vanguard Communications, which led me to my position now.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that people were paying attention to what I was doing and what I was capable of. When it came time to get that ideal job, all my volunteer work really paid off.
My advice to new graduates is to keep your options open. Don’t say no to something just because you aren’t going to get paid to do it. The truth is, you aren’t getting paid to sit at home and apply to jobs either.
While the volunteer and internship opportunities may be short-lived, if you do a good job, they can have long-term effects. And who knows—one day you may find yourself working for one of the organizations you volunteered for, just like me!