This guest blog is the first of many in an ongoing series that will help showcase the different paths available to students after graduation (and in some cases, before graduation).
By Melanie Ann Thurlow
Having completed my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration Management two years ago at 23, I remembered why I first decided to pursue this degree: it would provide me with a well-rounded choice of career paths.
In the past year, however, I have decided on a career path and it has little to do with my major. In fact, it’s a profession that isn’t easy to penetrate: writing. Novels, specifically.
Regardless of this career choice I’m still technically a “job-seeker” in need of having “experience.”
It’s the plight of every high school student and newly-minted adult fresh out of college with a degree that has not yet been wrinkled, stained, or in any way experienced. The job hunt.
It’s the same old story for every person in search of a job (or in my case, a literary agent). Scanning the classifieds each day or the browsing websites all seeming to contain the same positions that don’t seem particularly desirable but everyone is desperate for a paycheck. After sifting out all of the sludge, you find that one favorable job opening meeting your criteria. What is a requirement for this favorable job? Experience. Which again, you don’t yet have.
What are the young and unexperienced supposed to do? How are they supposed to break into the job market? How do you make yourself experienced when you don’t actually have experience?
These are the questions that have been weighing heavily on me recently.
While the act of writing is comparatively easy, finding an agent to represent my work (and eventually a publisher) is not easy. However, the method of procuring one is much the same.
It all starts with marketing yourself (this is where my business degree could come in handy).
As an author, agents and publishers want to see a platform, which begins with “web presence.” I started mine with social media (FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram) and followed it with a website. Then, after meeting with a local freelance writer, I took it a step further and broke into the world of freelance writing myself.
Freelance writing means steeping out of my comfort zone and writing outside my preferred young adult genre (A lesson I learned from the freelance writer I recently met). Even if journalism and blogging isn’t my dream it’s good to try. At best, I could find that I thoroughly enjoy – love, even – journalism. At worst, I have published articles that will help bolster the throngs of query letters I send out to agents. (Aka that E-word: EXPERIENCE.)
Just as freelance writers often start essentially publishing their first few pieces for free, volunteering in your field builds your resume and gives you experience you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Beyond marketing yourself by gaining this experience, you should seek connections. We all have them. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. Friends of aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. They are there. You know someone or someone who knows someone who owns a business, has contacts who owns their own business (or, in the case of writing, substitute agents for contacts). You just need to find them and exploit them. It’s why connections are made.
In the job I have now as a part-time receptionist I work for a good friend’s mother. Before that, I came by a job while babysitting the children of a business owner. My first job was obtained by joining the career development course at my high school in which the instructor helped place students into positions.
Connections work. Nearly every job I have had in my 9 years in the workforce have been acquired by contacts.
Marketing yourself through volunteer experience and using your connections will help you in securing a job. It gives you a step up beyond your peers. There will always be those who are older and more experienced (the ones you will have to “compete with” during the job hunt). But hopefully these few tips will help strengthen your resume and obtain the success you, we, desire.
My name is Melanie Ann Thurlow. I am twenty-five years-old and graduated from the University of Maine in May 2014. I never knew who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do all the way through school. Like almost everyone, I’m sure, the only thing I knew was that I didn’t want a set 9 to 5 schedule. Imagine my surprise, after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, that I found myself in the role of author and creator of worlds.
What path did you take beyond high school or college? Did you jump into full-time work? Travel? Join the military? Or perhaps a combination? I’d love to hear from you! Submit a request with your idea! You don’t have to be a “writer” just passionate about your topic! –Erinne