Finding a Job: The Firsthand Account

By Tracey Rector, Alumna of IUPUI

The job search. It’s grueling, time consuming and at times can be like a full-time job. It’s typical to apply for several jobs and never even hear back from a place. But in the end, it’s all for a purpose. Here’s my journey through the job search process just after I graduated from college. 

Getting Ready

In college, I majored in journalism. It’s typical for people to change majors a few times, but not me. I knew writing in some fashion was what I wanted to do. 

In my fifth (and last) year, I had to take a careers class. It was required, and the goal of the class was to teach us how to get a job.

It was an amazing class. We prepared our cover letters, resumes, heard from those in the field, received tips for being interviewed and much more.

If I had any disadvantages, it was only having one internship under my belt, when I probably should have at least two or three. But being so heavily involved in a school publication throughout my entire college career made me feel confident with my experience despite having a lack of internships.

The careers class was in the fall 2009 semester and I was to graduate in May 2010. Even though it was four and a half months to graduation, I started my search in January 2010.

Putting Myself Out There

Every year the Associated Press holds a job and internship fair. That year it was being held at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., which is about an hour or so away from me. I made several copies of my resume, cover letter and even business cards.

I went by myself, and although I was a little nervous, found it to be a very interesting and rewarding experience. I met with several different newspapers and made some great contacts. It was kind of like speed dating, only for a job.

Following the job fair, I sent thank you emails to each of the places I met with. Even the ones I knew I wouldn’t want to work for.

I kept up with a few contacts, then by April, began searching harder.

First, I contacted several of the newspapers I met with at the AP job fair. Then I also reached out and contacted all other newspapers and magazines I was interested in working for. I also searched all job search engines and expanded my search to companies, too. There were some weeks I would reach out to 30 or 40 places.

Hearing Back

Sometimes I would hear back, sometimes I wouldn’t. For those I wouldn’t, I would follow up, but never too much. While following up is great, it can get overwhelming to the interviewer. So I made sure to not go overboard — but it is hard not to go overboard when you need a job.

It’s funny because the job search always starts out so optimistic, but when you’re getting to a point where you desperately need something, it gets really rough. You begin to wonder if you’ll find something in time. For me, I needed to find something by the end of June 2010 when my work-study position ended. It didn’t quite happen that way.

The Interview Process

The interview process was grueling. Some interviews I walked out feeling confident, while others I was unsure of how I did. And when I never heard back from a place, it was discouraging. 

It was a ton of work even to even just get a call. Many places don’t even respond to you, let alone give you a call to tell you they’ve filled the position.

It’s crazy because you do all this work hoping someone just notices you. All the hours I put into tweaking every individual cover letter, email, resume, etc. was all just to capture someone’s attention. You literally have just a few seconds to capture someone’s attention and get your cover letter and resume into a “potential” pile.

So when the interviews started, the first few I wasn’t interested in. I even interviewed for a position I knew I wasn’t going to take. I won’t forget it though; it was for a newspaper in a small town about two hours from me. It just didn’t pay enough for the move. But even just talking to the managing editor was worth my time. 

All of the interviews, whether I wanted the job or not, were worth my time. Why? The experience. It built my confidence. I learned something from each.

In the Home Stretch

Toward the end of July 2010, it came down to two places. They both had second interviews with me, and one I even went in for a third. It was literally at the last minute. I was at a point where I needed a job, and I didn’t want to settle for something that wasn’t in the field I wanted to go in. 

The crazy thing is that the two places I was interviewing with weren’t newspapers or magazines. That’s what I had pictured in my head, but I started to realize during the job search that I could apply my skills to other areas and have room to grow and improve. 

When it felt like neither of the two places were going to contact me, things changed.

One weekday morning, I was sleeping in because let’s face it; I wouldn’t have time for that much longer. My phone rang around 8:30 a.m. I recognized the number and immediately coughed out the tiredness in my voice and answered. 

One of the places was offering me the position.

Finally … Success!

I was screaming with excitement inside and wanted to immediately say yes. But I waited as she told me she would email me all the details and then I could send over my formal acceptance.

I just sat there. The wait was over. I didn’t say anything for about 20 minutes, then I went downstairs and told my mom (because was still living at my parents at the time) and we were excited together.

As I hadn’t heard back from the other place in about a week, I quickly accepted this position. Even if the other place would have offered me a job, I know I made the right decision. I have no doubts.

It was a journey, though — a really tough journey. The job hunt takes a lot of hard work and patience. 

But in the end, it all pays off.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

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