October 2, 2009 7:50 PM Subscribe
How does a recent college grad gain job experience when everyone requires it?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (22 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
This past June, I graduated with a B.A. in English from a small prestigious liberal arts college that you've most likely heard of and may be single-sex. I then moved back home (NJ, near NYC). Since then, my life has taken a familiar turn: applied for tons of jobs, and have been on 8 interviews--not counting those with temp agencies. I look on tons of job sites--including Monster and CareerBuilders--and apply every day. My search is really limited to NYC, since I can't drive and NJTransit has many shortcomings, but recently I've been applying to places in towns nearby as well.
In my life, I've only had two real jobs, both of them work-study. Both were admin assistant type jobs, and I've been applying for those, as well as publishing/media positions (despite the fact that I was unable to get an internship in those fields in college, and I can't get one now for financial reasons). I've also been applying for entry-level paralegal jobs since I've kind of been considering going to law school or some kind of grad school (probably for film/cinema studies) after working for a couple of years. The thing is, I've never made it to the second round of interviews, let alone gotten a job offer, and I think it may be obvious why. This past week, I interviewed for a paralegal position at a law firm, and after I wrote the interviewer a thank-you e-mail, she then responded by saying that she had looked over my qualifications and wanted someone with more secretarial experience. This confused me because it's not like I told them anything--in terms of experience, anyway--that wasn't on my resume, so she therefore knew going in that I didn't have enough secretarial experience, in which case why the hell did she even call me in for an interview? And it's not like that has been the only job--I have gotten responses from HR people after applying saying that I didn't have sufficient experience.
(A word about temp agencies, since I know that will come up: I haven't had much luck there either. The ones I've been to--and I'm on the books at close to 20--have said that they aren't getting many positions, and the ones that they do get are either super-specific or call for lots of experience or I am suitable for them, but they pass on my resume or they fill the position internally.)
Partly because of financial family troubles and partly to keep from going insane, over a month ago I did get a part-time job calling people for this sales recruiting company. So in a way, I am getting experience now, but it's not like I can show it--I was advised against putting it on my resume by a recruiter. However, they recently cut my hours, so today I applied for a job at Starbucks in the hopes of getting a better part-time job while I look. But how does one get experience when they are inexperienced? Starbucks is nice, but it's a far cry from an office job--and how can I get that when I haven't had any office experience?
How do I get over this hump and start getting some experience? I feel like my life is at a standstill--I can't get ahead. Is it just me, or is that the way things are now--especially now--and no one talks about them? How is it that other people I went to school with who have just as much or less experience than I do have jobs and I don't? Aside from reading job search books, what can I do to make this more successful?