Which button do I push for a job?
April 10, 2011 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Graduating soon... Where do I go from here? Lots of details and sub questions...

Hey all! I've asked a previous question about careers several months ago and got some great advice and encouragement but I'm back for more specific info now that its getting down to the wire.

I'm graduating? in August (walking in May ceremony, August is when my diploma will be mailed but I will likely be done with classes in July) but will be looking for a job to start as soon after May commencement as possible (I can take online classes). I don't know where to go from there and per this question, the time to apply is now.

I will be graduating with a Bachelor's in Communications, minor in Marketing from a university in New York City. I am currently interning at a company that does media buying for various publishers under the title of Marketing Intern. It would be quite convenient if I got a job there but not such a good fit for anything besides office assistant. New people were recently hired (their positions would likely be too advanced for me anyway) and they have another intern who started a bit ahead of me who apparently already spoke to our supervisor and got dibs on working as the office assistant in the evenings. But that intern is starting graduate school soon so it would be a bit silly to hire them and then hire someone else once they go to school again. I'm planning on speaking to my supervisor tomorrow and I'm super nervous that I'll just be told my work isn't up to par and they wont be requiring my services past May. That'll make things awkward for my remaining time there. But I'm going to ask anyway.

I don't know what I should be trying for now... I need a steady source of income to pay my rent. I plan on remaining in Manhattan. I absolutely love it here and must stay for a variety of personal reasons that I will not go into. I have so many ideas clouding my head. Temping is often recommended but (correct me if I'm wrong) you don't get called in to work every single day. I also registered with a temp agency 2 years ago and I have received one call in this entire time, so I'm kind of worried about depending on temping. Can you guys recommend any good temp agencies?

As for my experience... I've previously worked for promotional agencies as brand ambassador/promotional model. However, most of these positions were only a day or two. I've also worked in retail for a year. I put both things on my resume as having customer service experience and working in a team/with others. I provided childcare at an agency on a volunteer basis for a few months and in the past I've volunteered to do childcare at a summer camp for several years so I have some childcare experience. Never had an office job but hey, I'm part of Generation Y. I can type and know PCs as much as any entry-level employee and social media management comes as second nature to me. I've only done this one internship though :( I do think I'm a good candidate and worthy of some jobs-- I'm not super experienced in anything in particular and I don't have years of professional work experience like others in this competitive job market but I still think I'm a relatively worthy job contender. I have several resumes tailored to different positions and have been to my schools career center to get it looked over.

What I'm considering as my options:
1) Should I apply for a morning office job anywhere and get a gig as a nanny for after-school and evening hours just to pay the bills? Not sure where I would fit in informational interviews and job interviews though...

2) I'm incredibly interested in doing public relations, specifically fashion pr, but have no direct experience. I did take a class in pr though and learned how to write a press release and various other things. I feel as though I could work that and my marketing classes to my advantage but I don't know if thats quiteee enough for an entry-level position. Should I pretend that thats enough and apply for positions in public relations anyway?

3) Or should I apply for a pr internship and set aside maybe 2 days a week for that and apply for retail or office jobs for the remaining 3-5 days of the week?

I'd love to take a well-paying night job as a cocktail waitress or shot girl but I have ZERO coordination... I spill full glasses of drinks in my own home :( (Know of anyplace hiring waitresses to stay still? lol)

I really don't know what option is right and I'm so scared of picking the wrong one...

Which button do I push???
posted by lovelygirl to Work & Money (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Doesn't sound like any of the options would be a major long-term commitment. Why not just try out the different things and see how it goes?
posted by instantlunch at 1:55 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you interested in media buying? Is the company that you're interning at a big/good firm? Are you actually learning about, you know, buying media? Because if you are - especially if it's in the digital space - I think it's absolutely practical to be applying for positions as a junior/assistant media buyer/planner at as many agencies as you can.

If you're doing office assistant/grunt work at your internship I would sit down with the supervisor and start asking them how you can build some skills that will actually put you ahead of your competitors in the job market. I'd even look at some job descriptions you might be interested in, write down a few of the responsibilities and skills that they're looking for, and then tell your supervisor that you want to be putting THOSE things on your resume.
posted by windbox at 2:12 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I do filing and data entry (hey I actually do have some office experience!) but I also assist the account managers/execs with some things. I've recently been helping canvass for potential advertisers for a magazine. I didn't particularly care for it because I had to call lots and lots of places to find out who they they advertise with or who their marketing coordinator is and what their specific contact info is for the account manager. I think they also all do a lot of cold calling which seems pretty scary to me. But I believe public relations require a lot of phone communication and cold calling/making pitches, so I suppose I should just buck up and get used to it?

I'm not particularly interested in media buying at this point in time as it seems a bit too sales oriented for me but I would take a job there if offered. It seems as though some skills are transferable. The company has a presence internationally but its New York office is quite small.
posted by lovelygirl at 2:31 PM on April 10, 2011

Having recently faced a similar quandary as a somewhat recent grad, I am going to pass along some advice from my wise aunt and uncle, who coached me through 8 months of indecision: Don't worry so much about what the "right" option is. There is no right option, and even if there was, you wouldn't know what it was until you picked it. Just do something. What you end up doing in the next year will probably have little relation to what you end up doing for the rest of your life anyway, but it will definitely lead you somewhere in a forward direction.

Also, I am pro- "applying for jobs you are underqualified for," so my vote for PR is yes. I would apply to everything that looks interesting, see who wants to interview and/or hire you, and go from there.

Also, when I had no professional work experience but wanted a professional job, option 3) was recommended to me.
posted by queens86 at 2:41 PM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

A BA qualifies you for an entry level position, per option #2, so apply to everything. To cover your bases, also apply for internships and unrelated part time work as per option #3.

My overriding concern is that you seem to have no idea what your skills are. You are focused on experience when the experience you have is not going to help you with the jobs you want, and that is not such a winning strategy. I am 99% sure your resume is accordingly doing a poor job of selling you as a potential employee for the career track jobs you would like to get. I would therefore suggest you avail of professional graduate services, ala The Resume Girl, post haste.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:09 PM on April 10, 2011

Sounds like you need another PR internship. Can your parents help you out for a few months, financially? Retail and part-time jobs probably aren't going to pay your bills (especially rent -- are you living in Manhattan?! And if so, why?) Honestly, unless you have 6 roommates, an entry-level gig is not going to pay them either. The most important thing for you right now is to land a more focused internship at a company you'd like to work for.

Internships are the main path to entry-level jobs, especially in PR. You might also consider taking a fashion marketing or PR class from one of the many design schools in the city. They're usually taught by people in the industry and you'll start to build up your fashion credentials.
posted by pourtant at 4:17 PM on April 10, 2011

Response by poster: pourtant-- What do you consider as entry-level salary? Because payscale says that the median income of those with less than a year of experience make $33,842 a year. If I get even a $30,000 year salary, then that's $2500 a month. $2500/month would more than cover my expenses. I'm incredibly lucky with the amount of rent I pay currently. It's definitely less than what comparable apartments in my area are paying, and yes I live in Manhattan. This amount is also relatively stable, and includes utilities. I'm currently paying rent through student loans for housing expenses since rent works out to be about the same price as dorming. I would most assuredly not get as good a deal anywhere else.

Of course that's IF I get any sort of position paying $30,000. But if so, I'll be fine.
posted by lovelygirl at 4:44 PM on April 10, 2011

If I get even a $30,000 year salary, then that's $2500 a month. $2500/month would more than cover my expenses.

Are you taking taxes into consideration with that number? Taxes in Manhattan take a big bite out of a $30,000 salary.
posted by dfriedman at 4:55 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

LOL. Yeah right. Show me the 33K job for entry level that you can get with one internship. In this economy, that is not realistic, unless you really luck into something or you're in the finance world. Good luck finding something that pays 33K with benefits (i.e. not a contract job). Sorry. Can you sense the bitterness here? It is tough out there.

Truthfully, I make only a bit more than that (albeit in the non-profit sector and I'm underpaid for my experience level -- 8 friggin' years). So I know what it's like to live on that and less than that. It's very tough. I've seen a lot of entry-level stuff lately paying under 25K. And that's IF you can get an entry-level job. This is still an incredibly tough job market. You'll be competing with experienced people with more than one internship under their belts. (Especially in PR, where there are often career changers and people with advanced degrees in journalism, etc.)

When you start paying your own way (with no money coming in from loans), you may very well change your mind about trying to live in Manhattan on 30K.

I'm just trying to be as honest as I can. You're best bet is to get your foot in the door at a good company with an internship. Companies have realized that they can create full-time unpaid internships instead of hire for what used to be "entry-level" jobs.
posted by pourtant at 5:14 PM on April 10, 2011

Yeah, taxes, FICA, health insurance, social security - all those combined make your take home much less than a simple salary/12. I'd plan on something like 75% of that for take home. If you've been student loaning your living expenses, you may need to add a pretty sizable monthly student loan payment to your current expenses. I also think $30K is a bit high for a first salary, but then again, I don't live in New York.

Anyway, I'd agree with DarlingBri - your problem right now is that you're not articulating your skills with any confidence at all. Assert that your internship gave you specific experience - don't lie, but claim whatever is claimable. You clearly have "office skills", and experience working with advertisers from your internship. Say that. Apply for every admin assistant job you see in a marginally relevant company. The idea isn't that you'll work your way up from that to VP some day, but that you'll make contacts and learn what people's jobs are like and learn how to have a real, full-time job. Those are incredibly valuable skills, and not ones you learned in college.

Temping is an option. You probably received few calls before because your availability sucked as a student. Now that you're available for work during normal business hours, you could get more calls. You also have more skills and experience, and you're not a student. Reapply with multiple temp agencies, and check in with them frequently for work.

It's just a first job, it's not the rest of your life. Take whatever you can get and make the best of it.
posted by donnagirl at 5:29 PM on April 10, 2011

Definitely apply for whatever you think you can bs you way into.

Communications major? Ignore people making fun of you for that; work up your strengths - did you do any undergrad presentation or published writing? Emphasize those.

Also, look into other markets outside of NY. Look at job postings from other states and send your resume to every one that you think you *might* qualify for; you might get lucky and land something with future upside or on-job skills training that you might be able to bring back to NY.
posted by porpoise at 9:03 PM on April 10, 2011

A few things that came to mind after reading your post.

1. make sure to live within your means.

as a recent grad myself, i was worried about paying for my loans (both car and school), rent, stills, food, and misc funds for a fun night every now and then. what helped me was making my school loan the minimum for now and as i gain experience i hope i can increase that. when you find you have an extra $50 or $100 tack it on to your minimum payment. check out paycheckcity.com to see what your income will be after taxes. it helps to put things in perspective. consider living in queens or brooklyn. i grew up in long island and many times found being in brooklyn, astoria, queens etc was just as much of a fun night.

2. read up on salary negotiation.

one thing i did not learn in college was how to ask for a salary! make sure you don't talk dollars until they actually make an offer. also, don't get dollar signs in your eyeballs.. theres a good chance your starting salary will be around $25,000. one thing i wish i did was ask if possible to get a higher rate. i'm doing OK now for just being out of college, but there's not thaaaat much wiggle room so to say.

hope this helps in some way!
posted by melizabeth at 10:18 PM on April 10, 2011

As an aside to your update regarding the all-too-common fear of cold-calling:

Cold calling is the worst, it sucks, it's miserable, and... once you start doing a little bit of it you realize it's really no skin off your back if someone isn't interested in your pitch. Their disinterest or negative reaction isn't reflective of you as a person in any way.

It's a really good skill and confidence to have: don't think about it as getting good at cold-calling, but to become confident enough to separate yourself from the idea that you are proposing, to come up with alternatives that would make a client happier or suit them better, and to graciously accept "no," which is going to happen to you all the time and the better you are at gracefully accepting someone's no, the better you'll be able to move forward to find out what it takes to make the next person say yes.

As for what you should do, I would say that you should apply for everything you can, and of course you should make time for applying and informationals, but you certainly don't need to set aside whole days a week for this. Applying for work is time-consuming but it is not something that you're going to spend more than a couple hours on in each burst, and you'll soon burn out or find yourself kind of frittering away your time if you devote such large chunks of time to it. An informational meeting can be a quick breakfast before work, a coffee in the afternoon.
posted by sestaaak at 7:13 AM on April 11, 2011

I would recommend looking into geting a job in business to business sales of some sort. I think Sales is going to be your best shot of making enought to scrape by in NYC and still have some semblance of a life. Experience in marketing is always good in sales, as is your retail experience. The office work you have done fits in well also since you will assumably be using a laptop at times to do things. Also, a lot of people find sales to have some stigma, like its a lowly job or whatever. That is to your advantage because it weeds out the other delusionsal new grads that think they are really going to start on meaningful careers by working for free, only to find out that they paying job they get offered afterwards won't allow the funds to not live with mom and dad.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:21 AM on April 11, 2011

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