Like many people, I dreamed that I’d have a better job right out of college. Little did I know that I’d graduate during the worst month of the ’90s to be looking for work. While I did land a job, I also learned some hard lessons.
Different Expectations From Graduation
As a linguistics major, I graduated in December, which was the norm for my university. Our program was designed that way. Unfortunately, potential employers didn’t see it that way. They saw most December graduates as somehow flawed. I wasn’t too concerned about my employment consequences initially. For me, the first job out of college was just a time filler until I started graduate school. I had no expectations of using my degree with just a bachelor’s; virtually no one in my major did. I knew I needed full time to earn money to make grad school easier, not start off my career.
There were very few jobs available in my town at that time. It was the low point of recession; most companies weren’t hiring at all. I found only one opening, as a receptionist for an optometrist. I applied in person, along with dozens of other candidates. I knew if I didn’t get it, that I’d have at least a 30 mile commute into a major city. But, I didn’t have a car. I walked into that doctor’s office with experience, having worked part time as a receptionist at a doctor’s office through college. Interestingly, they gave me what I thought was a penmanship test. I held my head high, and wrote with flair. Turns out, it was a handwriting analysis test. They didn’t care about my experience, degree or flair. Somehow, my sample appealed to their analyst, and I got the job.
Unfortunately, the analysis didn’t match me very well. I didn’t even last through the 90-day trial period before I was fired. Frankly, I was relieved. By then, the economy was turning around, and I was moving on to another big city. But, I did stay long enough to learn a few tips to pass on. It’s only your first job, not your life’s work. It’s ok to be fired, especially from a bad match. Some employers hire use quirky selection processes in hiring. No matter how bad it may be there will be better, and there may even be worse.
While I didn’t expect getting the same job at graduation that I had held all through college, at least I worked. I got knocked down, but I got right back up. And, grad school was much more fun, anyway.