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Mind the Gap: Navigating the Space Between College and Career

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Mind the Gap: Navigating the Space Between College and Career

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Navigating the space between college and career.

Presented at the Upstate NY AIGA Portfolio Building Workshop on 1/28/2014 at The Foundry for Art, Design + Culture in Cohoes, NY.

Navigating the space between college and career.

Presented at the Upstate NY AIGA Portfolio Building Workshop on 1/28/2014 at The Foundry for Art, Design + Culture in Cohoes, NY.

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Mind the Gap: Navigating the Space Between College and Career

  1. 1. MIND THE GAP NAVIGATING THE SPACE BETWEEN COLLEGE AND CAREER NATALIE SEMCZUK @talkanatalka
  2. 2. I GRADUATED IN 2011 AND JOB SEARCHED FOR ALMOST 10 MONTHS
  3. 3. NOW, I AM A PROJECT MANAGER FOR DIGITAL MARKETING
  4. 4. WHAT I DID AND DIDN’T DO IN COLLEGE
  5. 5. I DIDN’T DO IT ALL RIGHT (OBVIOUSLY)
  6. 6. I DIDN’T HAVE AN INTERNSHIP AT AN AGENCY
  7. 7. I WORKED ON CAMPUS ALL 5 YEARS
  8. 8. SOMETIMES, I HAD WILDLY RELEVANT POSITIONS TO MY FUTURE CAREER
  9. 9. BUT SOMETIMES, NOT SO MUCH
  10. 10. THERE IS A “FORMULA” BUT I FOLLOWED MY OWN
  11. 11. I GRADUATED, NOW WHAT?
  12. 12. I WAS SINGLE, LIVING AT HOME, WITH NO JOB AND A BROKEN BACK (LITERALLY)
  13. 13. I APPLIED, APPLIED, AND APPLIED TO JOBS
  14. 14. I TOLD FRIENDS I WAS LOOKING
  15. 15. I TOLD FAMILY I WAS LOOKING
  16. 16. I TOLD FACEBOOK AND TWITTER REPEATEDLY THAT I WAS LOOKING
  17. 17. IT SORT OF WORKED!
  18. 18. EVERYTHING YOU DO CAN AND WILL MATTER
  19. 19. THINGS I LEARNED
  20. 20. PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF
  21. 21. WORD OF MOUTH WORKS
  22. 22. FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP
  23. 23. USE EVERY RESOURCE AVAILABLE TO YOU
  24. 24. TRANSLATE YOUR EXPERIENCE
  25. 25. PEOPLE ARE GENERALLY NICE, BUT LACK TIME
  26. 26. IN CONCLUSION
  27. 27. THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO GET INTO THE INDUSTRY PEOPLE ARE NICE AND WANT TO HELP YOU ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT FOLLOW UP!!!!
  28. 28. THANK YOU!

Editor's Notes

  • I graduated in 2011 from RPI with a dual bachelor’s degree in graphic design and sociology and my master’s degree in sociology.
    At the time I had started searching for jobs in March
    I was participating in a state senate internship for my Master’s thesis and thought I’d get a job out of that, so I was a little lazy
    But unfortunately it turns out I didn’t enjoy the job as much as I thought I would
    I would procrastinate at my internship by working on graphic design work
    I spent countless all nighters adding to my portfolio
    So, things didn’t go exactly as I had planned
    That’s why I’m here today!
  • I’m currently a project manager of digital marketing at Mohawk paper right here in Cohoes
    Before that, I was a project manager at a small agency, Burst Marketing
    I love working with clients on web and digital projects
    Right now I specifically work on
    Mohawk Social Media
    Write for Mohawk blogs
    Manage partnerships with brands that use Mohawk
    Manage new relationships with brands that partner well with Mohawk
    I also freelance for 2 small agencies, one local and one remote
  • This is the story of how I ended up here today!
  • If I had done it all right, I would have nothing to talk about!
    I would be here instead telling you, “follow the formula, it works perfectly, you’ll do just fine!”
    But in the real world it doesn’t always work that way!
  • When I was in college, I didn’t work at an agency or design studio as an intern
  • Instead, I worked on campus all 5 years
    I held many jobs, from telemarketer, to creative writing camp counselor, to marketing intern, to visual designer, to Learning Assistant, and more
    I liked that I could walk to my jobs
    I liked that getting paid was easy
    I needed the money and immediate experience – I didn’t know what sort of career I was looking for, so I didn’t think that far ahead
  • I worked as a visual designer first on a team of students for distance learning for 4 years. As the years went by and the department shrank I became the sole designer
    Those years were extremely helpful to my design experience and working for a demanding boss
    Not to mention I was able to test new software and learn new techniques through that job
    Also, I got bored a lot during the summers and this is where I learned about Twitter!
    (Which I now professionally do at my job)
    Other jobs I had were marketing intern for the Summer@Rensselaer program, where I was able to initiate small campaigns and do market research and carry out work on my own – which was a great opportunity
    Telemarketing actually helped me connect with people and be able to deal with angry customers or now, clients, and smooth things over. It also taught me to LISTEN
  • I did data entry for a LARGE amount of money one summer in which I really just learned how to copy/paste as fast as possible. But it was a job!
  • I’m sure you’ve heard the advice of networking, getting relevant internships and jobs, and self-promotion more than ever now.
    While these are all true and great advice, sometimes you can’t – or don’t get to – do these things
    For me, I was confused about what I wanted and had lots of other interests, too
    I saw college as a time to explore these, not to build straight to a future goal
  • So, I graduated realizing I wasn’t interested in the career I thought I was making from the state internship
    I knew I loved graphic design but didn’t have specialized experience
    I was confused and more than a little bit worried!
  • All of my friends were in engineering or the sciences and had locked down jobs by December before graduation
    Meanwhile, I had just:
    Fallen down steps at school and broken my back
    Graduated with no job and no prospects (not for lack of trying)
    Anddd moved back home with my parents
    Where my sister was awaiting her Army assignment
    Even my little sister had a job before me
    I went through some dark times – just trying to figure out how to do what I wanted to do. And what those things were!
  • I literally had a spreadsheet where I tracked the jobs I applied to
    I applied to over 200 jobs in a 9ish month time span
    That is a lot!!
    More on this later
  • I told friends I was looking
  • I told family I was looking
  • When I told my friends friends and family I was looking for jobs, they started keeping their eyes out for jobs too
    They would pass on openings to me and pass on freelance opportunities they heard about from THEIR friends and co-workers
    I was slowly building my network
  • And it worked!
    I made connections in the industry locally and in other cities that I still keep in contact with
    I made connections through friends for freelance opportunities that I still am a part of
    I ended up getting an internship in SEO through a Craigslist ad for an agency
    I was hired because I knew how to write & research (grad school) and knew how to code (for fun)
    An internship = less of a risk investment to a still-growing company
    And since I had already graduated and was available, this led to further opportunities in the company –
    My SEO internship became a full time job in design + web technician
    Which led me into project management and my interest in client relationships!
  • So what I really learned from this was – Everything you do can and WILL matter
    It’s not all throwaway work
    Work you did for fun or because you had nothing else to do becomes worth it and meaningful
    This is still applicable to my job today. Just because I might not LOVE every task I do, big or small, I can still frame it as a contribution to something bigger in my industry
  • This is what I mean. I learned a lot from this experience, especially…
  • Persistence pays off.
    Out of the 200-so jobs I applied to I only had about one or two dozen interviews
    But the other connections that came out of this mattered
    I connected with other agency owners in Albany and Boston and was able to get professional advice on my portfolio after college
    I connected with marketing professionals and learned about other agencies in the areas I was looking
    I applied to jobs I was over and underqualified for, and made impressions – some to the point of contacting me about my application just because it wasn’t a good fit but they were impressed and wanted to know more in case an opportunity came up
  • Word of mouth works.
    All of the time I spent talking to my friends, family, and potential employers about my skills and job search paid off
    I was able to sustain myself on 3 freelance clients during those 10 months I was searching, because my friends knew other friends looking for work from their company or colleagues
    I had MANY more pairs of eyes looking out for openings than my own – even though most of the job openings I heard about from friends and relatives may not have been relevant, it was super helpful
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up –
    This is maybe THE MOST important piece of advice I have
    Even as a project manager, managing relationships, I say this
    You’ve put all this work into your portfolio, your self promotion, your emails, job applications, and phone calls – FOLLOW UP!
    Having now been in a hiring position, I can say having many tasks and people to review and manage can easily make other things slip from my mind
    If I don’t hear from you, I won’t remember
    When I was searching, I created great relationships with people I rounded back with, and it made all of that work worth it!
  • Use every resource available to you
    We have social media at our fingertips
    I got my last 2 freelance jobs that way!
    When I was in school my college offered free profiles for students looking for jobs in their career portal
    And free job listings too!
    Even if these aren’t relevant or have a lot of competition, use it if it is there!
    The AIGA offers mentorship programs – I met a great friend by signing up for this, who eventually let me know when her job became available. It was my mohawk job!
  • Everything you’ve done can be relevant
    The telemarketing job I had – can be seen as managerial or client/customer experience
    Working with kids in summer camps or after school programs – is organizationally challenging and takes a big level of responsibility
    The interest you have in other disciplines can get you hired – it’s what makes you stand out from the others
    Companies are always looking for a large combination of skills and interest in learning to help them become more well rounded
  • I was surprised by how many people genuinely wanted to help me
    They were quick to mention a friend needing help with branding, a co-worker looking for an intern, or their friend who was a recruiter
    So many people offered to look at my work if I was in town, or meet me for coffee, or chat about the future
    They were busy people and so generous to offer!
    I learned to jump on these opportunities and FOLLOW UP – people are busy!
    People are good at helping and interested in talking about themselves – all you have to do is ask!
  • In conclusion..
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