Author Topic: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?  (Read 3372 times)


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In the unlikely event you've read my journal, you already know my job situation has had highs and lows. Basically I took three semesters off from college (with one semester left until graduation) to pursue a dream job that I landed on a movie set. Worked my a$$ off for crappy pay, no retirement benefits, minimal other benefits, found MMM, and learned the film industry is just not what I want to do with my life (since it became my entire life while I worked there and everyone seemed to be eating up the BS about the perks being worth total instability, no benefits, long hours for no reason other than "tradition"/boss-pleasing etc.).

Pre-film job I was the shining example of business school undergrad: I met with career coaches and had my resume reviewed until there was nothing left to review, and had every change checked and rechecked, did student orgs with leadership positions, interviewing certifications, worked part-time for the university and for another company in the area, maintained a 3.7 GPA, went to every career fair--the whole nine yards. Every box was checked, in my mind.

I started college again in January to finish my last semester after saying goodbye to my film job (left on great terms). Grade-wise I'm on track to graduate Summa Cum Laude with a Business degree and Marketing specialization. Since January I've applied to a ton of jobs and haven't had a single interview. I went to the career fairs and wanted to throw up because the jobs sounded so canned and miserable (part of why I thought film was for me before my film job).

Last week I met with my friend's dad who is a venture capital fund manager with a lot of business experience. He (very kindly) told me my film industry experience doesn't really count for much in the corporate world, I need to be taking on an internship while in school (semester is almost over now), and overall made me feel that what I saw as a wealth of experience is just as pathetic as all of my rejected job applications. I had no problem landing internships in the past, but now I can't even seem to do that, let alone land a full-time job. I'm applying all over, not just my city, and still turning up nothing.

I was verbally offered a job in film starting (tentatively) in late July, and the longer I go without finding a job the more it seems like I'm going to have to take that one just to make some money. It would only be a 3-6 month gig, but that's also 3-6 months I could have in a job that has a 401k etc.

Every time I apply for a job that I think I qualify for and/or meet all listed requirements, I get rejected, and humbled. I'm also a woman, and I feel like that has been affecting perceptions of me based on my experience as an assistant. Everyone keeps saying I should apply to be an executive assistant, which I do have the skillset for, but I also know I wouldn't like the job, even if I'm good at it. My friends' dad also said I should apply for an exec assistant job, and I feel like he would not have said that to me if I were a guy. I get that I have the skillset, but when I've already said I didn't like the assistant job, I don't think it should be pushed on me.

My focus now is on jobs as a copywriter/content writer anything that has both writing and marketing involved, and I have about 5 new applications out for those types of jobs that I'm hoping to hear back about this week or next.

Am I missing something? I think my expectations in the beginning of my job search were too high and I've since adjusted, but it just seems like I'm going to either have to take the film job or find an equally miserable part-time job again. If anyone has any tips on applying to jobs/getting an interview, that would be great. I think if I get to an interview I can get the offer, so far every job I've interviewed for I've gotten an offer from, but I just can't seem to get past the application phase.

Any help would be much appreciated, and thank you for reading my vent/rant!!

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2018, 05:17:20 PM »
Just get the job you can right now.

You thought film was going to be great, and it was awful. Now you think exec assistant will be awful - maybe it'll turn out to be great? Perhaps your ideas of what a job will be like aren't always accurate, once you get into it for a while you find out. So you never know.

As well there's confidence. At one point I couldn't get the job I wanted, so I went and worked in a sheet metal factory. It wasn't great, but it was better than I expected, and it gave me an income and some confidence - and this confidence helped me present better at interviews and get a better job six months later.

So I say, just go ahead and get the job you can right now. If you're at uni then I presume you're in your early 20s, so bear in mind it's not for a lifetime. Nobody's going to insist on a fifty year contract. If you're doing the "wrong" job for you for a year or two, thinking of that year or two over a lifetime it just doesn't matter. And doing job X isn't a hindrance for job Y later - I'm on my third career, my wife did a degree in tourism and worked exactly three days in tourism, was in admin, then technical translator and now business analyst. One of my gym clients abandoned a PhD in pharmacy and is now a paramedic, another was a sound engineer and is now an HVAC engineer, past clients have done law degrees and ended up in insurance, gym manager and so on. It's actually pretty rare for a person's degree to directly relate to their career, or for their job at 25 to relate to their job at 35 or 45.

Get the job you can, get yourself started, get an income and some confidence, and muddle along from there.


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2018, 05:35:33 PM »
OK, here are my thoughts in no particular order:
People in the business world don't care much for people who are different. So you might be looked down upon by prospective employers.
Another thought is that most recruiting happens in November/December and if you don't have a job by spring semester you missed the boat. Personally I did not know this in college but I did in grad school.
Tell those people who think you should be an executive asst to shove it. Unless that's really what you want to do with your career which it sounds like you don't. I was an executive assistant for three days and I was fired.

Writing is a very competitive field. Unless you went to a brand name school and are going straight into a full time job from an internship or your dad owns the company I've not heard of people getting full time jobs as writers. My understanding is that writing is mostly freelance now.

If you are really good at writing you can start pitching stories at different online journalism sites. Some of them even hire once every couple of years. I know the website just hired two people part time.

When I graduated college I floundered for two years so I went to grad school in a technical/specialized field and I was able to get a job. You can try that. There are also a lot of cool opportunities for young people like Wwoofing, Peace Corp, etc. Maybe you aren't going to grow up to become a 9-5 cubicle dwelling type and that's OK too.

The best thing is that you took time off for a great opportunity and now you can cross film off your list. That's priceless.

And don't worry about being a woman. People will stereotype you but there is so much opportunity to do whatever you want. And no, it doesn't end. It gets harder, especially as ageism starts to kick in, but you got awhile before that.


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2018, 05:41:45 PM »
One way that being a woman might hurt is that you think you should only apply to jobs you are qualified for. Men apply to jobs where they are only 60-70% qualified. You should be applying to a lot more jobs including ones you think you are not quite qualified for.


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2018, 06:59:34 PM »
In the event that it really is film stuff that's slowing you down, feel free to leave it off your resume as another option. You could always do that on some resumes and see how it goes.


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2018, 08:55:26 PM »
While you should list your work experience, I hope youíre not highlighting the gap in your semesters on your resume by using dates.

Agreed hat internships and residencies/rotations are the way to go to get a job. There are a lot of companies that offer 1 yr residency type programs for new grads in business degrees.

The key to all of this?  Applying gets you nowhere, itís less effective. You need to be going to career events, meeting, networking, wowing them. If thatís not your thing or you donít know someone that can get you in the door, then youíre better off taking an admin type job and working your way up.

I do agree that men probably wouldnít be told to go be an exec asst.


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2018, 10:01:23 PM »
I'm sorry I don't have a ton of advice to offer other than to encourage you to keep trying to get your foot in the door on a career path that works for you - the first rung is always the most difficult.

It sounds like the film industry is not that career path, and I would also strongly advise you stick to your instincts not to go for an executive assistant position. I've got nothing but respect for that role, but unfortunately I've seen people get pigeon-holed into it despite the fact that it often requires developing all sorts of useful business skills. I recently interviewed someone seeking to move from an assistant role to an entry-level business role and I was one of the only managers arguing on her behalf despite her being an excellent candidate with a strong academic background (luckily I was persuasive). Also, I have a very good friend who has worked her way up the executive assistant ladder to become the EA for the CEO of one of the world's largest corporations. It's good pay by EA standards and there are lots of nice perks, but the hours are absolutely insane, and there's no hope of her transitioning into a business role despite her probably knowing more about the business than the folks in the C-suite.


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2018, 07:17:52 AM »
I have no good advice to offer other than to keep pushing through and looking for opportunities. I also had a non-linear career path, and I initially did everything the career counselors told me to do. I graduated from a top program at a top school, on a merit scholarship, completed summer internships at a Fortune 500 company, went to networking events, applied to a ton of jobs, interviewed for several positions, etc. and had ZERO job offers upon graduating. It was discouraging.

I ended up taking a volunteer position in my field, and worked my way up from there. After two years, I went back to school, busted out a masters and doctorate, and was promptly hired for a position completely unrelated to my bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees. Eventually, I was hired for a position based on my graduate degrees, and now, 15 years after graduating from undergrad, what I do is kind of in line with what I studied.

Reflecting back, a few things I learned that were helpful to me:

- Be willing to take risks and do something outside of the box; sometimes coloring inside the lines doesnít work. For me, taking risks meant applying for positions overseas.
- A position that is seemingly unrelated may actually be helpful in the future. For example, my undergrad is not related to my current work, but I use a lot of the critical thinking skills I learned in undergrad in my current line of work.
- Be willing to take any position. Be humble. I started as an oral English teacher in China, which is a stigmatized and not glamorous position. But I tried to be the best one I could be. That university teaching experience actually helped make me a stronger candidate for my current position at a more ďglamorousĒ job.
- Whatever position you get, donít knock it or look down upon it. Just do the best that you can. Enjoy it and have a good attitude at work.
- Always be on the lookout for work (whether paid or unpaid) in the area in which youíre interested. You never know when a hobby will turn into a paid position. Talk to people; offer to take on interesting projects. Thatís how I got all of my jobs in the past 8 years, by talking to people, being eager and hardworking, and having people vouch for me.


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2018, 08:05:38 AM »
Thank you for all of the encouragement guys!

@Kyle Schuant Thank you! that's kind of what I'm trying to do, but I know there is a big part of me that is stopping me from deviating from the business path too much. I overthink things a lot, and with the backup job offer on the table, I think I'm letting myself slack off a little. Which is terrible! But I will keep your advice and experiences in mind moving forward.

@mozar Yes! I knew about the statistics about women not applying for jobs they don't meet every qualification for and I've been trying to apply anyway, but looking back, I think I've not done that haha. And on the exec assistant track, I agree! While I can bend myself to please whoever I work for, I don't enjoy it, and while there are some things about the job I DO enjoy, the bad outweighs the good. Working as an assistant would be fine if it was entry level to something else, but more often than not, it doesn't lead to anything other than a better assistant job doing the same things.

@swashbucklinstache I've been tempted, but then there would be a huge gap in my resume that I think would look much worse. A lot of my previous work experience has been in film too, so at least my previous job shows I was good enough to be rehired? But it might be worth a try just to see.

@ETBen Unfortunately, I am. I don't really see a way around that, since My graduation date is Spring 2018 and I had my 2 year work experience in a different state, 600 miles from my college. I agree about networking being more effective, but I have a hard time asking friends/acquaintances about jobs. In the film industry that's such a big taboo, so I struggle doing it right in regular world.

@aspiringnomad yes! this is the problem I'm afraid of. Film is supposed to be one of those gateway career fields for assistants, but in my experience very few female assistants have been given the opportunities male assistants have. it's so frustrating! good for you sticking up for a former assistant, they really do have amazing skills that are taken for granted, imo. And kudos to your friend who's an EA for a CEO - I wouldn't like it for the hours alone!

@Malkynn thank you for the encouragement! It sucks, and I hate this part! I'm trying to stay positive, but it's nice to know it only gets easier after this part.

@Freedomin5 thanks for sharing! your career story is definitely encouraging, and I'll take your advice to heart. I haven't really looked into anything overseas yet, but I'm open to it! I'll keep this in mind as I go forward.


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2018, 09:20:09 AM »
Good resource for everything job related:

Hang in there. No one said it was easy or fun, but you'll figure it out.


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2018, 09:27:08 AM »
Do you know what you want to do?

You don't want a career in film.
You don't want to be an executive assistant.

What is your ideal job?

Knowing this can really help you change your resume - and your cover letter - to make sure you are highlighting those skills.  I know you said you've had people scrutinizing your resume, but, at the time was that to get a film job?  If so, then your resume may not be just right for the kinds of jobs that you want now.  You also need a great hook for a cover letter to make you memorable.  Not all hiring managers care about them, but a few do, and for those, having a great cover letter will help you get the interview.

Knowing your 5-year goal can also be helpful in identifying what alternatives there are to getting the skills you need to land that job.  My husband is about to graduate with an IT degree.  He wants to be a security specialist.  He's applying to help desk jobs, because those are entry level, and he can work his way up.

For your goal job, find out if there are any professional organizations that meet in your area, and then go to those meetings.  Have a business card made up with your phone number and LinkedIn profile, and hand it out.  Ask for advice - what skills should I be pursuing?  How did you get your job?  Etc.  This kind of networking makes a big difference.

Good luck!


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Re: Landing that first (real) job: Humbled Daily - Does it end?
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2018, 11:15:14 AM »
Corporate hiring can be super frustrating, especially for a first "real" job. With Human Resources people (and software) screening applicants and random hiring panels interviewing them it's hard to successfully convince that many overly cautious people that a career diversion like yours was the valuable learning experience it was. Especially when there are tons of other more conventional applicants out there. The first "real" job is by far the hardest.

If big corporate is your goal then all you can really do is keep grinding and keep a good attitude in the face of all the no's. Maybe broaden your search to smaller companies where the actual decision makers are involved in hiring and could spot talent the more ponderous organizations can't?


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