Got your own career conundrum you’d like advice on?

Then sign up for the WCA peer mentoring program. It’s free to members!

It’s all about peers who care helping their fellow WCA members.

 

Editor’s Note: For many years, WCA’s Julie Tereshchuk compiled and edited the “Ask a Mentor” blog post each month. Julie was a dedicated WCA leader and mentor, and took great pride in fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for women in the field of communications. Julie wrote this last post shortly before her death earlier this month. You can read more about her contributions to WCA here.

 

Dear Mentors,

I just graduated – that’s the good news! But, even though I’ve been applying, I don’t have a “real” job yet. Which means, I’m stuck back at my old coffee shop gig to pay the bills. I wonder whether working that kind of job will affect me being hired for the job of my dreams. Any advice?

Mentee

Dear Mentee,

Good for you for hustling, many people pity themselves and fall back on parents. But not you, you’ve got grit. You know what it takes to keep moving forward.  

Friend, what you don’t know is that it’s extremely common in this environment to fall back on hospitality after graduation. But we hear stories of so many friends that landed high profile roles on site with no interviews, it is discouraging. I share this with you so that you know you are not a failure, it is just competitive and too many companies are hiring people for entry level marcom roles that require 20 Master’s and a kidney donation. 

You WILL break into the comms job of your dream, and you’re on the right path. Make sure to sign up for WCA Job Bank alerts, and get your resume reviewed – they’re both free to WCA members. Getting your resume and LinkedIn representing you properly (and matching) is a huge challenge that holds people back. 

To make sure you’re not held back, ask yourself where in the process things keep stopping for you. If you aren’t getting any interviews, something’s wrong with your resume, LinkedIn, or social media presence. If you’re not getting a second interview, focus on your interviewing skills (you can always ask your WCA Mentor to do a mock interview with you). Once you know where the problem is, the options for solving that problem are fewer, therefore more approachable. 

You’ve got this. And if you or anyone wants to chat more about this topic, you can always reach me at mentors@wcaustin.org – I love talking about breaking into the industry! 

Yours,

Lani Rosales

Dear Mentee,

The immediate answer is NO. It won’t affect your future career. Everyone expects students to do whatever it takes to pay the bills. What employers will want to see is that you are intentionally seeking a position and are focused on what you skills, experience and attributes you can bring to their company or organization. Working with a WCA mentor to figure out what you want to do, where you want to be, how you’re going to get there and why someone should hire you would be my first step if you’re not already working with someone.

Good luck in achieving your desired job.

Yours,

Jane Baxter Lynn

Dear Mentee,

In these strange times, I can’t imagine an employer would hold it against you for having a job that pays. Everyone needs to make a living, and I would think a potential employer would respect you for working to make ends meet. Have you considered interning at a marketing or advertising agency? Some internships actually pay, so that could be a way to get into the biz while earning some money. I think it’s understood by most employers that recent graduates won’t have much experience. Belonging to a group such as Women Communicators of Austin and/or others can enrich your resume and show a potential employer that you are keeping up with the field and take it seriously. I hope this helps.

Yours,

Ilene Haddad

Dear Mentee,

 I can’t imagine that a hiring manager would dismiss you because you are working to pay your bills.

 Some thoughts to consider.

1.    Is there a communications-related position or internship that you could work in conjunction with the pay-the-bills job? Even if you volunteer in your spare time, you will chalk up valuable experience.

2.    What soft skills have you learned as a barista that will serve you in your dream comms position? (Perhaps problem solving, scheduling, salesmanship?) Make sure that you highlight them on your resume and be prepared to tell interviewers that your time behind the coffee counter has been well spent.

Best of luck!

PS. Early in my career, I had a colleague who kept his college job at a fast-food joint for A YEAR even though he was also working nights at the newspaper full-time. He is a very successful writer now, but back then he told me he was worried the newspaper gig wasn’t going to work out!

Yours,

Sandra Kleinsasser

Dear Mentee,

Heck no, it doesn’t hurt that you’re barista-ing while you apply to be communicating. Just don’t let working harder get in the way of working smarter; in addition to seeking full time positions, explore outlets such as freelance writing or consulting. Be protective of your mental and physical energy, so that you’re not pouring (!) yourself into the hourly job when you desire a salaried role.

Yours,

Kirsten Longnecker