I Graduated… What Now?

Lessons and advice on the job search from one recent graduate to another.

Life’s Tough, Get a Helmet.

Frustration coupled with distraction is to blame for my recent job-search “hiatus”. I must admit, for every ounce of me that pines for a break-through on the job front, another ounce counters with gratitude for a flexible, low-responsibility lifestyle. Honestly, how much rejection (or worse; neglect) can one endure from the business world before it takes its toll on our motivation? Is it wrong to weaken to the current job market and let our hair down for the duration?

Lately, I have spent less of my free time dwelling on possible job options, and more time on what I enjoy, which I feel is ultimately contributing to my future success: helping, socializing, and working.

I am helping my friend, Rob Coats, market his brand online (check out his new book- Connect and Grow Rich!). Meeting with him once a week feeds my creative fix, enlightens me on new ideas/ different views, and allows me the opportunity to sharpen my social media skills. Socializing keeps me connected to others (you never know who you will come across!), open to different things, and happy. Work obviously pays the bills.

I am glad to report that a few prospective job opportunities have arisen in the past few weeks. Sometimes opportunities are right in front of you. I think taking a step back allowed opportunities to surface that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.
I am not suggesting anyone out there looking for a job right now should give up entirely. I am merely stating that it’s OK to be OK with where you are right now. Cut yourself some slack, have patience, and let tomorrow worry about tomorrow.

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances. – Martha Washington


December 7, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Life’s Tough, Get a Helmet.

22, Fabulous and Making Moves: Guest Blog From the CEO

By, JoVanna Bianco, CEO ILS, LLC

Although January will be the one year anniversary of my company, it still seems a little UNREAL to me. My goal was always to run my own company, where I make my own hours, and I call the shots, but could I possibly fulfill this BEFORE I even received my college diploma?

When my dad first proposed the idea of starting this company (ILS) it seemed almost too good to be true. The President of my own company?!  Then the reality of it all hit me. Can I do this? Can I go to school, keep my internship, AND run a company?

It was a little overwhelming at first. But if there is one thing I have learned from this experience it has been to not get discouraged.  It hasn’t been easy being twenty-two and getting professionals to take me serious. People have tried to take advantage of the fact that I was just starting out and fairly young. But I was persistent and made sure that I did my research. I wasn’t afraid to let companies know what I expected from them and that they needed to take me serious. When I was first starting my company I was even asked by an accountant “You do know how much time and commitment this is going to take, right?” At first it made me want to cry. But as I thought about it, it pushed me to work even harder.

Days like today when I am sitting at my computer filling out payroll and invoices I think how good it feels that I didn’t give up and made it to where I am today. I can’t say I haven’t made any mistakes along the way, but you learn from them and try not to make them again.

Don’t get me wrong, running a business is no picnic. It’s not a free-pass from keeping up with my homework or my internship. I still attend class and work for Battelle. I work hard to balance my time between all three, while still managing to have a social life.

“Because in this lifetime, the challenges that we face are what keeps life interesting, but it is the overcoming of these challenges that give life meaning.”

Thinking of starting your own company at a young age?

-Do your research (basic steps)

-Consult with experts

-Believe in yourself and demand respect

-Stay organized

Please leave your questions, comments, or suggestions on this post in the comment box below!

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Here. I HAVE To.

With each year of my life comes less and less self-doubt. Maturity is coupled with wisdom and self-acceptance. Still, there are certain situations that unleash those middle-school identity crises.

img_1356_dance[1]One to pride myself on being an open-minded person, willing-to-try-anything-twice, you can imagine my surprise when, upon my arrival at a gay-bar for the very first time, my mind was filled with feelings of inadequacy and out-of-placement.

Cute flowing top- check. Tight black jeans and chunky heels- check. Hair and makeup in agreement with a night out-check. Self doubt- check. WAIT! WHAT?!

I couldn’t cap the worries fast enough: Could they smell my heterosexuality a mile away? Did they think I was a poser, or worse, a mockery? Was I going to be exiled from their community and stoned for attempting to enter? It’s funny how a new situation can be a non-stop ticket back to that awful 6th grade lunch where you found yourself silently begging for an invitation to that weekend’s “popular” party.

I can best identify these anxious feelings to those I had towards social media. Though both worlds intrigued me, I felt they were not places I belonged. My knowledge of social media did not branch far from Facebook and mass-texts, and I was not personally gay. Who did I think I was and what did I have to offer this gay bar, or this social media world?

Ok. Here I am. At the bar. Desiring acceptance by this elite group, and not wanting my insecurity to ruin the night for my friend Michael, who was so ecstatic to finally be somewhere that he was the majority. I HAVE to get comfortable. social-media-people

I’ve found that it’s much easier to realize what you want once you verbalize it. I WANT to be accepted at a gay bar. I WANT to be a member of the public relations professionals.

Ok. Here I am. In the midst of the job search. A desire to be the newest edition to a public/media relations group, and not wanting to limit my abilities. I HAVE to familiarize myself with social media.

Social media, like sexuality, is about being confident, open, experimental and adaptable. People respect you in each group when you are willing to try in spite of the possible failures. In my experiences, they welcome your attempt and help in any way they can. Disregarding my question of what I had to offer either group, I jumped right in. Maybe it wasn’t about what I could do, but rather, what I could gain? I got in the middle of the dance floor sans friends, void of any unease. I couldn’t find Michael. I started my Blog. I didn’t wait for an employer to show me the ropes. I Googled WordPress and taught myself as I went. My blog led into other social media accounts such a Twitter, Brazen Careerist, LinkedIn, Etc. So what if I failed- at least I attempted.

Not surprisingly, through my social media and gay-community endeavors, I’ve gained valuable friendships, knowledge, and experience. I’ve found like-minded people who I can identify with and gain value from. You do not have to change who you are. You don’t have to be a guru, and you don’t have to alter your sexuality. You DO have to put yourself out there, try new things, and be vulnerable. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish when you get past the fear.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | Leave a comment

Brand It Right The First Time

Those of us that are unemployed seem to have all the time in the world when it comes to discussing our professional future. However, this is not the case for working professionals. We only have a few moments/chances to “brand” ourselves and we need to make sure it’s MEMORABLE.

Check out this video where Fonzworth Bentley, an average guy, got P.Diddy to not only notice him, but bring him on board.



From this video, I learned that in order to make a successful impression on someone one must:

*Build Rapport

*Be Smart/Knowledgeable

*Act like an expert

*Be Risky

*Brand yourself

*Take your time: Have patience

November 11, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

22, Fabulous and Making Moves


While driving down the road with my friend JoVanna, our Spice Girls jam session was abruptly cut short (I wasn’t behind the wheel so there wasn’t an accident!). Peeved that she decided to mute “Spice Up Your Life” mid- song, I questioned her actions.

JoVanna defended that the bank we were pulling up to 1.) did not share a mutual appreciation for our anthem; “Never Give Up On The Good Times,”  and 2.) may not take her tax payment seriously if we didn’t act mature.

Of course I was amused that my friend pays her own taxes, never having seen a tax form myself, but was amazed to learn that she was paying taxes for HER company!

That day I learned about my friend’s start-up business, ILS: Industrial Labor Services.

Earlier in the year she spoke with her father whose company (IWC: Industrial Waste Control) hires temporary labor for many of their projects. They decided that instead of hiring an outside contractor, this was a possible business venture.

So, this past January, Jovanna, an OSU student who was already holding the computer science & engineering/ programming internship position at Battelle, set out to start her own staffing company.

She taught herself QuickBooks through software tutorials and consulted with lawyers and accountants. She ordered her own paychecks and figured out how to document W2 forms and insurance applications.

She set a one-year goal: get the company registered, running, and maintain her first client.

She has not only met these goals- she’s exceeded them! She currently employs 11 workers in 3 states and has exclusive staffing privileges to her first client!

Only 10 months later and she has cashed her very first paycheck from her company!

Now, I’m not saying that everyone is wired to start and manage her/his own company. But, I am saying that we mustn’t let opportunities pass us by.  JoVanna saw a void and took it upon herself to fill it. She didn’t wait until she graduated, she didn’t excuse it because of a lack of knowledge and she didn’t hold it in the back of her mind as a mere possibility. She JUST DID IT!!! (Nike was on to something all those years ago).

So many of my friends (all very talented and highly capable) have what I consider “pipe dreams” (restaurant owner, travel writer, personal stylist, etc.) My question is: Why not? Find the skills, resources, funds to make them a reality. The worst that’s going to happen is that we fail.

As we pulled away from the bank that afternoon I asked her what her biggest fear was. Her response: “Not getting it all to come spice_girls_500x375together or running into some legal obstacle that [I] wasn’t aware of. Not having enough time to do it all- the company, Batelle, school…” I gave her my vote of confidence then she cranked up “Spice Up Your Life” and we went back to being 22 year-olds.

“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” —  Henry Drummond

A more in depth look into starting a business with low overhead and JoVanna’s personal story are soon to come!

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Simple Thank You


Dear Job Seeker:

Never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. One should be sent after every interview, meeting and/or conversation and always addressed specifically to the person with whom you spoke. Nothing too long, but remember to include something personal so the recipient will be able to remember you immediately. Reiterate your interest in the specific position. Emails are not nearly as personal as a hand-written thank you. Be prompt. All letters should be in the hands of the professional no later than one week after the encounter.

Best of Luck,


November 5, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Look Around Once in a While


Impulsivity has kept me from enjoying this gap period between school and work. Instead of enjoying my flexible schedule and free time, I’ve been fretting over what my next move needs to be. Only last week did some unexpected turn of events lead me to the realization that if you don’t stop to enjoy the moment, it’ll most certainly pass you by!

With my new found outlook I was able to accept that this was not a gap period, but rather an unexpected detour. Not only has my time as a server allowed me to travel and enjoy things I may not have had time for, I’ve recognized how it’s helped me to grow as an individual. Here are some highlights of my lessons learned:


There are some times you have no choice but to be on someone else’s time.


You cannot succeed in any industry, especially the restaurant industry, without working together


You learn to successfully communicate, understand, and work with people of all backgrounds, education, beliefs, values and work ethics.

You will not love everyone you work with

But you will have to learn to work with everyone.


No matter how much you hate your job at any given time, you better be there the next day if you want your paycheck.


There are only so many options on a menu. But, there are endless ways to pitch them. Learn to read people and figure out how to best accommodate them.

How to bite your tongue/pick your battles

The costumer is always right is not a saying- it’s a mind set- and a lifestyle during work hours. Whether a co-worker or a guest, some times it’s better to let things go.

The immediate affects of divisional functioning of an organization

The results of each division of an organization aren’t directly apparent faster than in the restaurant industry. Managers, servers, bartenders, food runners, cooks, chefs and bus staff operate as a unit, each executing their own responsibility in order to run an efficient company.

So, the next time you are stressed and feel like the ship has sailed while you’re still at check-in, take a look around and improvise. I guarantee you can take something positive from the situation. In the meantime,Look there’s always happy hour 🙂

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | Leave a comment

Be Careful What You Tweet For

A flawless job-search experience would probably be asking too much. How do we learn without be critiqued? These are the sentences I found running through my head a few months ago, but I couldn’t lay them on thick enough to mask my mortification.

Earlier this summer I applied for an assistant account executive position with a local advertising agency. For those of you not familiar with this term, an assistant account executive is an entry-level position that allows you to provide support on accounts, yet limits the amount of independent decision making you have. This sounds perfect for a beginning professional! Or so I thought.

So excited by the possible new position, I contacted a friend who knew someone at that particular agency. My friend, whose advice and encouragement has greatly eased the stress of this horrific job search, forwarded my resume to her contact at the agency. What better way to get noticed than from the inside, right?

Now I’m really enthused! A recommendation from a respected professional! The next morning I woke up early and decided to check my Twitter account, only to find that someone had retweeted a post made by the contact at this agency.

A part of me died that morning. In 140 characters or less, this “professional” had made fun of my resume embarassing_45526.jpg_320_320_0_9223372036854775000_0_1_0for having Twitter listed under my proficiencies. Worse yet, another professional (not employed by the same company) found it funny enough to repost. Correct me if I’m wrong, but social media skills are a highly sought-after skill in most companies.

I understand that this woman meant no personal harm, does not represent the entirety of the agency, and I could have worded it in a more marketable way. However, I was taken aback by the lack of empathy and professionalism a woman, whose own company uses Twitter as a marketing tool, had.

A good laugh with some colleagues, in the privacy of their office, probably would have been a better choice. Thankfully, I got over the embarrassment, didn’t take my sister’s advice to continue my job search in another country, and checked off another lesson learned.

I never heard anything back from the agency, so my only impression of this company will forever be of this negative Tweet.

To those of us circling on the perimeter trying to break in, remember to ALWAYS present yourself in the best light both in person and on social media sites. There is a line between sharing our personal life, and making our selves look bad. If it’s on the internet- anyone can see it!

Share your most embarrassing job-search experience in the “comment” box below!

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | 2 Comments

May I Have Your Attention?

Are our cover letters and resumes being sent to outer space? Am I the only one that gets 1 response for what seems to be every 100 positions I apply for? Not even an automated response!

While at my waitressing gig tonight, I was offered some well-intended advice from a guest: “You need to just get your resume out there!

As fun as slinging meatballs can be,  if “just getting my resume out there” was all it took, then my passion for public relations would be far more than an aspiration.

After attempting to politely redirect the conversation, the guest continued: “All you need to do is get an entry-level position and you’ll work your way up!

Did my intentions come across as expecting to take over for Daniel Edelman tomorrow?

It takes experience to get an “entry-level” position nowadays. What a catch-22. There are no positions out there for truly “entry-level” professionals, yet we aren’t hired without experience. Hmmm….

Internships? I am on my fourth. Every professional in my chosen industry, although extremely helpful and encouraging, has offered me a different skill that needs to be mastered to be considered for a position. How much mastering does it take to land an “entry-level” position? Because I have gained great experience, skills, and contacts, I  continue to welcome unpaid internships.

Networking? I continue to connect with people I believe to be knowledgeable, respectable, and successful. I’ve gained so much valuable insight and suggestions, yet I’m still slinging-meatballs.

Here are some things I’ve found useful in gaining employers’ attention:

  • People WANT to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and opinions and definitely keep in touch with those you’ve connected.
  • I’ve received better responses/feedback from the companies I’ve sought out. Many positions have actually been filled by the time they are listed on the Internet.
  • Contact people in the industry you’re looking to enter into. So far, no one has been bothered by a polite e-mail inquiring about their position/company. In fact, I have yet to not receive a response. Even if there is not a position available, I’ve gained additional knowledge through each contact, as well as a new friendship. Bonus: now you’re on their radar. When a position becomes available, you are more than just a name on a resume.
  • Persistence rarely goes unnoticed.
  • Taking the extra step to follow up with a phone call or an e-mail shows you’re serious about the position and committed to the hiring process. Do a little research to find out the name of the company’s hiring manager, or even go straight to the president. Worst case scenario: no response.

Although I don’t have a solution (but welcome those you may have!) to gaining an entry-level position with little experience, I do know how to gain the attention of professionals. The next time you find yourself checking your email every hour for a response that you may or may not ever receive, why not take the extra step?

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sky Isn’t Falling

Lets face it: the world doesn’t stop after college graduation, and the sky doesn’t fall during tough times. Time to put our big girl panties/big boy boxers on and accept that a college diploma is not a “go straight to *Insert dream company*” pass. A chance at free parking every once in a while is about the only Parker Brothers’ metaphor in this reality.

Only recently have I resolved this: no matter how much preparation, passion and persistence you may put into the job search, sometimes it’s just not enough.

Thanks for letting me get all of that off my chest. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past five months since graduation.

1. Don’t Get Discouraged

There is no possibility of a win if you don’t keep trying.  Think you’ve memorized every job post on the Internet, contacted everyone in your network, your neighbor’s, and your cousin’s in Nebraska? Chalk it up to timing and keep on keeping on. Look at it this way: you can keep trying, or you can settle for where you are right now. Refer to these famous failures to make yourself feel better: http://ezinearticles.com/?16-Most-Inspiring-Famous-Failures&id=862208.

2. Don’t Feel Alone

80% of recent college graduates move back in with their parents (R1FinancialEducation).

Over a cup of coffee with a high school friend, I learned that even those lucky enough to find employment in their dream field right away, weren’t able to stay there. One classmate landed his dream architecture job with a prominent firm in Orange County, California a year and a half ago. I was surprised to learn that he had been laid off 6 months ago, not due to lack of performance, but by lack of business. He is now back working in our small town. Another peer, who interned for an environmental non-profit in NYC for 6 months, has been at home looking for a full-time position for over a year.

Even those of us who have worked hard and taken all the right steps are facing roadblocks. So in good “misery loves company” fashion, remember: you’re not alone.

3. Don’t Make Excuses

The economy may be enough of an excuse to keep your parents off your back about landing a job, but using this to post-pone the job search isn’t benefiting you at all. While you pout at home over Xbox and bon-bons, others are out there making connections, which will leave you that much farther behind when jobs start popping up. Just think: all of this networking, researching, interning, and interviewing is sharpening our skills and bettering us for our future job.

4. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Just because you are not being hired right away does not mean that you are not valuable. Really think about your skills and proficiencies. One recurring question I’ve run into is: “what is your core skills set?” My first response was something along the lines of not having enough professional experience to be able to answer that. WRONG! We’ve all used computer programs in college. Do you have any leadership or management experience? Yes, being responsible for three children several times a week counts and so does mentoring a trainee at the restaurant you work for. Don’t sell these experiences short- being able to compare these experiences to a future job situation are what make you stand out!

So, you’re homework for tonight is to stop feeling sorry for yourself and start preparing. Make a list of your “core skills set” and don’t downplay anything. Project management, leadership, and organizational skills are a great start! Don’t forget to list exemplary performance in an internship, exceeding goals, and any promotions.

October 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment