A conversation with a student last week, that reminded me of similar conversations with other students, has led to a new category on the blog… “Plan A.” For those of you who are graduating who are not quite sure what your future holds, you are not alone. In fact, most students are in your same position. You are wondering if, how, when you are going to find a job, if you can afford to live on your own or if you are going to have to move back in with your parents, should you go to grad school, et cetera. In short, most students aren’t quite sure how to answer the (often dreaded) question of: So what are you doing after you graduate?
Most of the time when students come into my office to talk about life after graduation, they don’t understand how a fellow student already has a job lined up or already has been accepted to a grad program. How is that possible? What did they do to already have an after graduation plan in place? So, a new category of blog post was born to help demystify the process. We’ll be featuring students whose “Plan A” has worked out! So although this isn’t the norm, I think it will be helpful to hear from these students. I’ve asked them to share their story and advice.
First up, graduating senior Communication Studies major Emma Gallagher. Emma is an Assistant Brand/PR Manager for R/West, an advertising and public relations firm with offices in Portland, OR and right here in San Francisco. An aside: how “San Francisco” is Emma? She takes a cable car to work! Emma is working part time until she graduates, when she will work full time. She even has a business card already!
Emma, smiling and taking time to enjoy the scenery because she has a job lined up already!
I asked Emma to talk about the things she did as a student that she thinks led to her getting a job lined up before graduation.
- “I had worked as a full time staffing coordinator for 5 years, managing over 100 people while attending USF and I think that experience set me apart in a unique way.
- As a student I tried to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible so over the past four years I was involved in: Lambda Pi Eta as a board member, wrote and presented at three research conferences, worked as a research assistant, had two PR internships, and worked to get good grades which allowed me to be on the Dean’s list and graduate with honors.
- I think that being able to summarize the above experience concisely in a resume is something that interviewers find very impressive.
- Also make sure that you establish positive relationships with Professors in case you need a letter of recommendation later down the line.”
I also asked Emma to tell us the story of how she got this position… when she started the job search (a question a lot of you students out there have!), and why she decided to accept this position.
“I started the ‘job search’ in March, because my goal was to have a job lined up before graduating. I started reaching out to my previously established contacts (and Professors) to let them know I was looking, what my plans were and if they would recommend any specific company or contacts. I researched PR companies that I was interested in and reached out to them through their websites, either replying to job postings or emailing point blank to start a conversation. At the time I was working at my internship so also notified them (in a formal letter) that I was looking for a full time position so they would keep me in mind with any future openings. I started searching Craiglists a few times a week and applying to job postings where my experience fit the description (or was close).
As a result of this work I went on a few interviews (in person/ over the phone) and got alot of great advice and recommendations. In the end R/West, who I had applied to from a Craiglist posting called me for a phone interview, and a week later followed an in person interview with the owner. Three days after meeting with him I got a call from them offering me the position. (Part-time until graduation, then full time on salary with benefits). Through my research of the company and the interview process I knew that it was a company I would love to work for, therefore I jumped at the opportunity! That same week my internship spoke to me about possibly continuing with their company but I decided to sign on with R/West, which has been amazing! They flew my to Portland to meet the employees in there main office and I really like the people in the company (which is a big factor to consider). The best part is they are a dog friendly company and I get to bring my dog to work with me!”
Every day is "Take Your Dog to Work Day" for Emma at R/West!
Emma’s already passed along a lot of great advice, but here is a bit more: “My advice would be to start the process early on, do something every week to further the search, follow up with thank you’s and spread the word to professionals you know that you are looking and what your focus is. Even if you are not planning to go to grad school take advantage of USF opportunities! They really add to your skill set and resume.”
Congratulations Emma! We are so proud of you and all of your accomplishments! Emma shared some excellent advice about things you can do to help make your “Plan A” a reality!