Monday, November 21, 2011

Post-College Job Search: The Horrific, Painful and Grey Area

My entire college career I heard stories regarding the job market struggle. I've had relatives, friends and work professionals fail to find anything. My analyzation of these situations was condescending. I assumed these people weren't trying hard enough; they weren't smart enough; they didn't prepare themselves well enough coming out of college. I was extremely blessed to have had three distinctly different but valuable, professional internships since my freshman year of college. One with a successful, privately owned but multi-national company, another with a professional sports team and a third with my own college. I had outrageous leadership experience; I was an NCAA college athlete; I wrote for the college paper; I did service work and was a Dean's List student. I thought I had fully taken advantage of my four years in college. As graduation approached, I had very high hopes. I assumed I would easily land a job. However, my attitude quickly changed. My plans to move and be successful kept getting pushed back. My once arrogant view of the unemployed became a reality; it was gradual karma.

I'm 23-years-old with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication - Media Studies with an English minor. I'm enthusiastic, experienced and driven. None of these characteristics seem to help. Instead of progressing in my professional career, I work roughly 30 hours per week in retail. All my accomplishments are rounding-up to selling over-priced shoes to unpleasant people with plantar fasciitis. It's not that my current situation is extremely depressing, although it may not be motivating. It's that my situation and the application process is confusing for someone who assumed they were ahead of most individuals their age. But I was wrong. I see "less qualified" individuals with jobs, and I see other friends already being promoted. So, what do you do? HOW do you get a job? If I had these answers I wouldn't be writing this entry. However, I may have some insight.

I've read it all. I've listened to career advisers, utilized my college's resources, networked, wrote unique
cover letters, crafted my resume towards every job I applied for and had so many people attempt to stick their head out for me to help me obtain a job I've lost count. You name the strategy, I've tried it. I don't just utilize generic job searches, I find specific ones. I look through company after company in cities all over the United States. I've now applied for more than 100 positions since April 2011. Through the process I've had three phone interviews and one face-to-face interview. Since Sept. 12, 2011, I've applied for 45 jobs with a result of two phone interviews, one face-to-face interview and denied by nine others. Where the hell is the other 76% not saying a word back to me?

To be blunt, the hiring process is pretty f***ed up. There has only been a few positions I've applied for where I wasn't completely qualified. Organizations don't hire like they used to. Instead, they bring in HR consultants who tell them how to hire instead of using their human instincts to judge a person based on their experience and capabilities. I went through an hour and a half behavioral interview -- beyond brutal to say the least. I OVERLY prepare for my interviews. I'm ready for any questions, I cover all my bases and weaknesses. And here I am, 23 and working in retail.

I'm not sure you'll find tons of answers from me, but I can tell you what it's like looking for a job and having six months of no success.

Apply, apply, rest and then apply some more

You need to be relentless. Now that I no longer am a college athlete, I don't have class nor am I a president of a student organization -- I have a lot more free time. Applying for jobs has joylessly become a hobby. If you aren't finding a job, you
need to make it your hobby. Even if you just had a phone interview -- KEEP LOOKING! Don't assume you'll get a job since you were referred -- I did and wasted valuable time where I could have looked for other positions. Applying will ware you out, and eventually you'll feel you've overused your resources; take a break when that happens, have a beer and then get right back to it.

Where do I look for jobs? Eh...

You could use a generic search like, but those ad affiliated/driven sites only bring you so far. They post "available" jobs which have been filled weeks ago, and you may waste time applying for those. You'll soon get countless emails from insurance companies asking you to work for them in sales even though they have never met you. And yes, you need to utilize some sites like that, such as Regardless, find smaller, unique ones towards your field. For example, I use, which is specific to the mid-west my my career interests. In addition, you'll have to just look at company's websites. Not all positions are posted all over the place. Get creative.

Resume/Cover Letter: Should you be unique? I'm not quite sure

I've applied for a lot of positions with fairly mundane cover letters, and I've also applied to some much more creatively -- which most people suggest you should do. I can't say either way is better than the other. My "boring" cover letters have ended up working better. The biggest key is to make it all concise, consistent and render each letter or resume to the specific job and hit the key points the posting is seeking. I feel companies shouldn't put huge weight into cover letters (depending on the job), and I'm not sure if they really do. As long as your cover letter is well written, not too long and without errors, you've done the necessities.

Networking? You can try...

One of the main reasons I was so involved in different activities in college was for networking. As I previously stated, I've had former supervisors, co-workers and friends attempt to help me -- not one has been successful. However, I have friends who have been hired by various organizations without a job posting -- all three of my internships were that way. Knowing people is eventually what will help you, whether it's your first job or a career advancement later on.
My suggestion is to join some groups, kiss some girls and get to know people -- you never know when you'll need a favor.

Follow up after applying...if you can...

Yes, you should always follow up after applying, but that's not as easy as it seems. I actually get pissed off when people tell me to do this as if I'm a moron. Big problem with this tactic...sometimes you can't. There will be no email listed, no phone number and some jobs specifically tell you not to contact them until they contact you. This all depends on the organization, job etc, but the truth is a lot of times there is nothing you can do but apply.

Work part-time while you search, even if it's horrible

All my interviews have asked me if I was currently working, and I noticed for all the interviews not being currently employed was a pretty big red flag in the process. You need to have some sort of income. The advantage to working a cruddy, part-time job is those employers are used to turn-over. If you work there three weeks and suddenly have an opportunity work-out, no quite as hard of feelings. Working part-time will also remind you of why you received a degree.

Perhaps finding a job needs a handful of luck and farts

Luck does have a lot to do with it. There are many factors you can't control. Landing an interview can depend on the mood of the recruiter, timing of when you apply and who else is applying. Just take care of what you can control and hope for the best. Every company looks for different aspects in an application (i.e. did you spray perfume on the envelope?)

I may be in a uniquely bad position, but I also see the pain and struggle with other friends. It's embarrassing to tell people I see out on the weekends I'm still looking for a job. I hate it, but at this point all someone in a position like mine can do is to continue to aggressively search. Apply, search, apply and network until you puke. If you are worried or struggling over where your life is headed, you're not alone. Just do what you can to put yourself ahead of others -- even if it's grad school.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hemingway - You drunken genius.

I got through A Farewell to Arms and finished The Sun Also Rises.

If you ever want to feel like a man... a man who drinks, loves, and fights - read a little Hemingway. You won't regret it. Short and to the point, his prose (I've said it before) is not fluffy and warms you up inside. There is no coddling, hand holding. Just strap in and feel the pain and suffering of a man and gasp at the sheer amount of boozing a human can tolerate. But, emphasis on a man. I think the most interesting man in the world commercials from Dos Equis are based off of Hemingway. Just wiki Hemingway and read about him a little. The man lived a wild, painful life and it's been reflected in his pieces of literature. See the resemblance?

Memorial Love

I thought I'd share a piece I composed my sophomore of college for a poetry class. We were assigned to write an erotic poem, and I was one of the individuals chosen to share theirs with the class. As a result, I was fairly proud of myself. I'm no Henry David Thoreau, but I think I present a decent narrative of American forest fornication.

Memorial Love

I want to relive that humid evening
On a lover’s hike through the Black Hills.
Our bodies lethargic and gritty
From the dirt trails and damp woods.
We made love so vigorous
Under the gaze of our four founding fathers,
Their granite faces moist
From the steamy democracy
Contrived by our body’s friction.

Your heavy breathing electrified my bones
As I penetrated your beauty in view
Of the pair of turkey vultures
Indulging in a meal of chipmunk and raccoon.
Our eyes met theirs in a feverish frenzy.
We graced their courtship with our glistening bodies.
The rock-face had torn our clothes from us
Like bark from a ponderosa pine.

You whispered hungry words
Muffled by my unclean cries
Of passionate love making
Which were so uproarious
You could have sworn it was
Crazy Horse himself riding off in the distance.
As our echoes trailed off into coniferous air
They reverberated off the cliff face into the clearing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Movie Recommendation

For the last week I debated on composing something about the entire Sandusky/Paterno scandal. The coverage is on ESPN, NPR and any other semi-news oriented media outlet. After I let the cheese cool and further thought, I realized the situation is fairly black and white. No need to speak my opinion in extreme depth. The individuals defending Penn State, Paterno or any of the administration staff are very off target. Think harder if you are defending the glaringly incorrect. Pretend one of those individuals was your child or sibling. I feel we all draw the friendship line when our friends are showering with children 50+ years younger than themselves. It's difficult to see our idols and heroes in disturbing situations but everyone is human. It's tragic to see a legend's career end this way, but what happened has happened.

Regardless, I have a film to recommend for the five people who will read this. "The Trotsky" has been sitting in my "Instant Queue" on Netflix for a few months. Before I hit "x" on my XBOX and deleted it to never be watched again, I selected to view the movie. Needless to say, watching the "The Trotsky" was once of the better decisions I've made since I graduated.

Quick Summary - The film is about 17-year-old Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel) who thinks he is the reincarnation of Russian Revolution leader Leon Trotsky. After staging a strike at his father's (Saul Rubinek) factory, he is sent to a public school as punishment. Leon quickly lends new meaning to the term 'student union', determined as he is to live out his pre-ordained destiny to the fullest and change the world.

I promise the movie is better than my summary. I'm not sure how I initially thought I would like the film, but I understand now why I enjoyed it so much. Although not on the same level as Wes Anderson, "The Trotsky" provides a "Rushmore" feel. The film is off-beat, unique and smart. Technically, you could categorize the movie as an "Indie teen film," but the Russian revolutionary references/jokes probably fly over most teen's heads. I wouldn't expect too many 16-year-olds to pick-up on the silent film reference to "The Battleship Potemkin" with the baby in the carriage rolling down the Odessa Steps. However, you don't need to understand all the history references to enjoy the film; it only makes the movie a richer experience -- but being super stupid would be a difficult variable to overcome to enjoy this film.

Critic Liz Braun says the movie at times "flirts with greatness, and those times are courtesy on Jay Baruchel's performance." Braun is dead-on. The entire cast is good -- very good, but Baruchel's performance and comedic delivery is phenomenal. He simply drives the film. Baruchel and the script provoke hilarious moments, thought provoking ones and awkward but good scenes. I'm a sucker for any movie with a romantic-comedy feel, but this film's history background makes it something deeper.

I'm not saying this is an Academy Award nominee, but it's worth your time. Once again, you shouldn't be super stupid if you decide to watch it -- just sayin'. I like history, referendums, laughing and distinctiveness. If you don't like any of those things, then I'm sorry for wasting your time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Weather Music

One of the best parts about living in Wisconsin is having all four seasons. I feel those individuals who live in the southern portion of the United States are deprived of some of the most simple but enjoyable experiences in life. I mean, sure, winters can be more brutal than a Nickelback playing at an abortion clinic, but for those who have never seen a first, true snowfall --- you're missing out on something amazing. Regardless, winter isn't my cup of cream corn. I'm more interested in the best season of all; fall.

Fall whether is tremendous for a person like me. I get very hot in even mildly warm temperatures, and I'm a big sweater. When the Fall climate sets in I get so excited I could puke. That being said, there are certain necessities which correctly complement fall. Football and flannel are big ones. Green Bay Packer games at Lambeau Field in October should be on everyone's bucket list. However, my sophomore year of college as I walked to class and listened to my iPod, I realized there is correct music to make those fall drives, walks and chill moments even better.

I'm going to provide everyone with a list of phenomenal fall music. It doesn't include everything,
but rather my list will provide you with a place to make your own. I've compiled the list from various movies, Pandora sessions and innate curiosity. Enjoy.

"Over and Done With" by The Proclaimers
"This Time Tomorrow" by The Kinks
"Cinnamon" by The Long Winters
"Fly" by Nick Drake
"One of these Things First" by Nick Drake
"Something Good This Way Comes" by Jakob Dylan
"Here Comes my Baby" by Cat Stevens
"The Wind" by Cat Stevens
"(Ummm, Oh Yeah) Dearest" by Buddy Holly
"It Makes No Difference" by My Morning Jacket -- The Band cover
"Look at Me" by John Lennon
"Oh, Yoko!" by John Lennon
"Watching the Wheels" by John Lennon -- Acoustic version specifically
"Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison
"These Days" by Nico
"Stephanie Says" by The Velvet Underground
"If She Wants Me" by Belle & Sebastian
"She Caught the Katy" by The Blues Brothers -- Taj Mahal and James Rachelle cover
"Early Morning Rain" by The Grateful Dead -- Gordon Lightfoot cover
"All the Young Dudes" by Mott the Hoople -- David Bowie Cover
"Whispering Pines" by Jakob Dylan -- The Band cover
"Strangers" by the Kinks
"One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later" by Bob Dylan
"Solsburry Hill" Peter Gabriel
"I Shall Be Released" by Jeff Buckley -- Bob Dylan Cover
"Gray or Blue" by Jaymay

I'm aware fall is well underway and it may be a little late, but it never hurts to try some new music. All these artists have many songs that could be thrown under the "fall" category, but these are just some personal favorites.

I felt the need for this post since I already noticed Christmas music floating around area stores and radio stations. Winter music will forever be classified under "Christmas music," which for many is hard to bare. I'll make sure to create a list of good winter music when the time is right. Until then, embrace what I have given you. Fall - make it reality.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Coffee shops - Not just a fad?

I'm on my day off of work and I decided to go over to the local Caribou Coffee shop to pass the time. I walked in off the street and it looked like a start-up company set up shop in here! I immediately grab a corner table and post up, a perfect spot for people watching. Needless to say, the place is buzzing right now. People have their laptops out (including me), meetings are being held, textbooks are being read. I guess I never utilized a coffee shop as a place to get my stuff done. I am obviously not the 99% (#occupycoffeeshops).