Author Topic: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable  (Read 7627 times)

a.g

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Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« on: September 29, 2014, 09:40:19 PM »
After a circuitous route, I'm back at square one trying to break into the the field of my chosen major. I fear that I waited too long after graduating to 'use' my degree, and am having problems now that I'm looking to find work (as an analyst of some sort, financial or otherwise).

Background:
I graduated about 5 years ago with a degree in Economics. Being uninformed and naive, I didn't get any internships or notable experience while in school. Immediately after graduation I spent a year traveling all over, which was an amazing, worthwhile experience but didn't help me build marketable experience. I followed that up with a year in a mostly unrelated graduate program, but ended up dropping out. The last few years have been spent underemployed at a job that doesn't require any degree or give me much of anything marketable, while I decide what path I want to take moving forward.

Recently I've begun networking to the extent that I can (didn't really build one while in school), and have been trying to get an analyst position or something of the sort (what I first imagined I'd do after graduating). Even with some promising leads with friends and family's companies, nothing has come of it. I've crafted what I believe to be a solid resume for someone with little relevant job experience, highlighting my applicable skills and computer knowledge, but haven't yet lucked out with any callbacks or interviews. I'm following up with companies and trying to stay positive, but am constantly wondering if it's just been too long and if I did too little while I was in school to make myself marketable in the field now.

So what do you guys think? Anyone have any advice, or share a similar experience?
« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 09:57:01 PM by a.g »

MDM

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2014, 09:55:24 PM »
After a circuitous route, I'm back at square one trying to break into the the field of my chosen major. I fear that I waited too long after graduating to 'use' my degree, and am having problems now that I'm looking to find work (as an analyst of some sort, financial or otherwise).

Background:
I graduated about 5 years ago with a degree in Economics. Being uninformed and naive, I didn't get any internships or notable experience while in school. Immediately after graduation I spent a year traveling all over, which was an amazing, worthwhile experience but didn't help me build marketable experience. I followed that up with a year in a mostly unrelated graduate program, but ended up dropping out. The last few years have been spent underemployed at a job that doesn't require any degree or give me much of anything marketable, while I decide what path I want to take moving forward.

Recently I've begun networking to the extend that I can (didn't really build one while in school), and have been trying to get an analyst position or something of the sort (what I first imagined I'd do after graduating). Even with some promising leads with friends and family's companies, nothing has come of it. I've crafted what I believe to be a solid resume for someone with little relevant job experience, highlighting my applicable skills and computer knowledge, but haven't yet lucked out with any callbacks or interviews. I'm following up with companies and trying to stay positive, but am constantly wondering if it's just been too long and if I did too little while I was in school to make myself marketable in the field now.

So what do you guys thing? Anyone have any advice, or share a similar experience?
a.g, congratulations on having the fortitude to ask for help - it's a good first step.

Somewhat of a cliche, but when you are trying to get your foot in the door first impressions matter.  See your post with two typos highlighted.  Check (or, maybe better, have someone you trust check) your resume, cover letters, etc. to eliminate any typos, etc. there.

Don't know enough about the analyst field to offer a specific opinion there.  But in general, getting that first "real" job is a numbers game: the more you apply, the more likely you are to be accepted.  Have you checked with your college's career services office?  Some will help alumni.

Good luck!

a.g

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2014, 10:06:17 PM »
MDM, thanks for the quick reply!! I fixed the typos in the original post (thanks for pointing those out!). My resume's been read by a handful of people, and seems to be well received. I do agree that first impressions on the job hunt are incredibly important.

Good thinking with checking back @ my college, that's something I hadn't thought of but certainly will pursue. Maybe they'll have some good thoughts on where I should direct my attention.

olivia

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2014, 10:07:38 PM »
Could you take an additional course or two at your college that include an internship?  I left school for about 5 years and when I went back I had 2 internship classes that I got college credit for, which also got my foot in the door for a full time job in the field once I finished my degree.

a.g

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2014, 10:13:08 PM »
I've thought about getting an internship, but am not sure how that would work since I need to support myself. I've been taking classes off and on at my community college after work, and maybe this is something I should look into further. Especially the option to take classes that 'come' with experience. Thanks!
« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 10:15:24 PM by a.g »

BurquenaAbroad

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 12:20:36 AM »
a.g, I'm in a somewhat similar situation, where I haven't found any full-time employment in my field (or any other, for that matter).

However, I've gotten a steady string of part-time gigs and contracts by word-of-mouth through friends at the university. Try to find an interesting club at your local university which is populated by Economics students and alumni. In my case, the geology PhD and Postdoc students (and their friends and partners and any random person who walks by) play ultimate frisbee on Fridays. Then afterwards, they drink beer and chat, which is a perfect "networking opportunity" where I can casually mention that I'm looking for more work. This strategy will take time though, because the goal is really to make friends in your field, and making friends doesn't often happen overnight.

If you can't find a club, start attending lectures (the kind where visiting professors or industry types give short speeches) and talking to people afterwards. I've found that the people giving talks loooooove to have an audience, and they usually love answering questions and helping people afterwards.

As for resumes, it might not be the resume that's killing your chances, but your cover letter, as I recently learned with a friend. She applied for a job that was exactly what she'd spent the last 4 years doing as her PhD but the stupid f*ing recruitment agency didn't even give her an interview because she wrote her cover letter in paragraph form (like the example on their website!!) instead of bullet point (which is how the guy who got the job -another friend- wrote his, and he didn't even have a whit of experience). Bastards. My point is that you should double check how you are writing your cover letters and get someone professional (not a friend) to give advice based on current recruitment tactics.

Setters-r-Better

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 01:41:48 AM »
Keep at it. Make sure you're customizing your resume and cover letter to each position you apply for even though it's a lot more work. 

SU

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 02:14:20 AM »
What other qualifications do analysts in the roles you are applying for have? Can you find out what post-grad courses they do, find an affordable but reputable version of that course and do it? Also, grades matter so make sure you get good ones in any course you do - and make sure your teachers know, so that anyone who asks them for a recommendation will be given your name.

I agree with BurquenaAbroad - universities are a good place to start.

chasesfish

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2014, 04:08:15 AM »
How many accounting classes did you take an an econ major?  Did you go to a state school?  It might be possible to inexpensively get a 2nd degree in accounting and have a marketable degree.

I'd also suggest considering taking a very entry level job in a company that has higher paid positions.

J Boogie

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2014, 09:21:00 AM »
Recently I've begun networking to the extent that I can (didn't really build one while in school), and have been trying to get an analyst position or something of the sort (what I first imagined I'd do after graduating).

Your wayward post grad route can help you with networking.

Whoever is gonna recommend you will only do so if they feel like they've got a remarkable fit.  Identify 5 or so realistic career paths you're interested in, and read a few interesting articles & create a story for how you've been obsessed with X and going to X just got you so stoked on X.  Additional education in one of these areas can help solidify that story for you. 

For me, I have a similar backstory.  No internship, BA in business (no marketable concentration - it was entrepreneurship, but I strategically leave that part off the resume) spent a lot of time and energy in Nicaragua both studying business and helping grow their skate scene.

I've got interests in skateboarding, woodworking, furniture design, passivhaus design, timber framing, sustainability.  I work in package engineering - I mentioned I'm passionate about sustainability during my interview, so they were happy to assign me extra duties on their sustainability reporting team.

Networking is all about weaving your interests together and being obviously passionate about something so that a friend will immediately think of you when he hears about X.  Lots of companies hire contractors that eventually get brought on board and given benefits.  That was the route I went, and I've seen a lot of no-internship type grads go the same route.  Part of taking the scenic route I guess!

alphalemming

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2014, 02:39:59 PM »
Would you mind posting your resume and a sample cover letter here?  You mentioned that you graduated with a degree in economics (so did I) but what jobs are you applying for and what do you think you are good at?
« Last Edit: September 30, 2014, 02:49:37 PM by alphalemming »

a.g

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2014, 09:21:58 PM »
All really great stuff you guys! I definitely have some new area's to focus on, and appreciate all the help!

alphalemming

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2014, 10:22:06 PM »
Being able to weave all of your experiences into a story is very important.  As a hiring manager, not only am I evaluating the candidates experiences, I'm looking to understand their thought process and why they made the decisions they did.

darkadams00

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2014, 04:15:00 PM »
I have a master's in Econ, but it's my stats background that got me in the door. I'm a statistician/analyst, formally called a Data Scientist, and I science the data for numerous clients in various industries--state/federal government, banking, and insurance to name a few.

Long story short: (1) find out what makes you tick--macro focus, (2) find out what's available and important to industry in that field--micro focus, (3) determine the education and skill set required, (4) get the required education and develop the required skill set, and (5) locate a network of people in that field to establish connections.

For (1), if it pays well but you hate the job, then you're going to be miserable.
For (2), if you're trying to get a position in a narrow field, then you will likely face extreme competition and barriers to entry.
For (3), if you're trying to leverage a BS into a field heavily populated by MS's or you only have "theoretical" knowledge with little "practical" experience, then you will face an uphill battle.
For (4), if you're willing to prep yourself adequately, i.e. real resume protein and not resume fluff, then acquaintances will be more likely to forward your name/resume for consideration, and managers will likely give you more than a cursory glance.
For (5), if you can locate a solid network of professionals, even if it's an informal question and answer board or blog, then you can begin to learn the real nuts and bolts of what people in industry are actually discussing and doing. This is often very different from what you studied or what you have been told that industry professionals are doing.

You can get a good job without one or more of these, but the search might take longer, the options might be fewer, and you might be relying on random selection more than you should be.

a.g

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2014, 09:40:40 PM »
Thank you darkadams00, that was an incredibly enlightening post. I'll have to figure a few of those things items out as I'd never really thought of them in that light, and I think it'll make my job search clearer. I think part of my problem in the search has been a lack of focus, which I think is partly caused by my limited work experience. I'll think about what you put here and see if I can't 'tighten' my search up a bit.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 09:42:42 PM by a.g »

retired?

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2014, 08:21:56 AM »
Does you school have a local alumni network?  Could start attending events to re-establish network.

There are fields that have certification programs that might help you get in the door without having to go back for a MS.  Actuary designation, CFA, FRM, etc.  Starting those might open a door, also lead to high paying jobs. 

Might be worth accepting an internship even tho you want a permanent role.

I don't hear much about the market for it anymore, but could "temp" to get in the door and impress someone.

Do you speak other languages?  Could seek roles that leverage that.

Keep networking with friends/family.  My first job was via a friend whose company provided consulting to my employer.  Try linkedin to locate old classmates.

unpolloloco

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2014, 11:22:28 AM »
How many jobs have you been applying to?  For an entry-level position, I'd claim 100+ is the new norm.

a.g

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2014, 08:10:38 PM »
@ retired?: I have thought about the temp agency angle, but in limited searches haven't found anything great. I am open to the idea though, and intend to look more.

@ unpolloloco: Yeah, tell me about it; raw number's seems to be the name of the game. In this recent stretch of mine, I've probably applied to 25 or so (I have them in an excel sheet not handy at the moment) positions, but I don't intend to stop until I've found something, or applied to most everything out there!! I've only recently resumed my search, so my frustration with not finding something really stems from past attempts with applications.

fxsts12

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2014, 08:59:55 PM »
Consulting or contract work will get you a placeholder on the resume. You could list your last few years as self employed. Simple efficient.  You traveled after college and worked for yourself. Don't muddy the water.

Millertime3291

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2014, 07:55:33 AM »
A.G,

I've been reading MMM for 6 month at this point and look at the forums on a daily basis and thought I might be able to be of some help to you. I, like yourself, was an economics major in college though a couple years younger than you. Have you looked a custodial type banks for employment? Breaking into the field of finance as an analyst is extremelly difficult to do. I think you might have better luck looking for a job at a big custodial bank (your BNY Mellons, State Streets, Fidelitys) and build your resume before looking for an analytical role.

At this point, you still are very young and taking a job to get your foot in the door might be your best bet to eventually get you to the analyst role you seek.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2014, 08:32:09 AM »
I graduated with my Economics BA in 2007, which was followed by a few years of self-employment in my husband's business - which was totally unrelated to Economics in any way. Geographically, we had settled in a region that didn't have many opportunities for Econ grads. I briefly toyed with an Econ Masters - but looked around the program and realized there was very little practical career support. I dropped out after a week, while I could still get a partial refund.

I ended up rebooting the grad school idea and went to Business School for a Masters of Accounting, instead. Strictly speaking, a Masters of accounting is not necessary for what I wanted to do (CPA), but I had no accounting background whatsoever, and the Masters gave me what I needed for my circumstances.

I thought it would be weird being an intern, since I'm a non-trad - but it wasn't. I thought I'd have a lot of explaining to do about my Economics degree, but instead people were excited about the combo.

I'm a CPA now. People continue to talk up the "different perspective" my background in Economics brings to the table.

Unlike the Econ program (which was in the College of Liberal Arts and Science in the same school), the Business School had a rockstar career services. That's probably the #1 thing I'd tell someone to look for, if considering returing to school. Are people graduating with job offers in hand? If the school doesn't have stats on that, it probably means they're not taking career services seriously.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2014, 08:45:53 AM »
Sign up with all the temp agencies in town and tell them you want accounting clerical positions.  Use that foot in the door with companies to work your way up to better jobs.  Temp agencies are less snobby about experience and schooling than employers. 

Apply to be a bank teller at all the banks in town, then work your way up to other positions when they see how smart you are and how quick you learn.

Millertime3291

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Re: Help!? Unrecent college grad feels unemployable
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2014, 12:16:21 PM »
Sign up with all the temp agencies in town and tell them you want accounting clerical positions.  Use that foot in the door with companies to work your way up to better jobs.  Temp agencies are less snobby about experience and schooling than employers. 

Apply to be a bank teller at all the banks in town, then work your way up to other positions when they see how smart you are and how quick you learn.

+1. I think this is a great idea as well.