We can all remember the time when scrounging for money out of your car for gas and living off ‘Ramen Noodles’ was the norm. Well, my time at college was no different. My first attempt at college did not go so well but after transferring to my second chance school, I really started to understand that the degree I was trying to earn was going to make me MONEY. Money, what I desperately needed to party and eat, was within reach.
Cut to January 2009, the start of my final semester. I had managed to secure a job in the school’s Financial Aid Office for my entire undergraduate career. Working in the Financial Aid Office was anything short of insane. Without any prior knowledge to federal student aid, I was now counseling students and parents on applications, interest rates and tax documents. What in the world had I gotten myself into!
I was completing my internship at the Financial Aid Office. An internship was required to graduate and was supposed to give students real working experience. Trust me, I was getting plenty of that, so I begged and pleaded my supervisor to let me count my current job as my required internship. During this time when I thought I would be skating by doing my normal job and earning credit for it, my supervisor thought otherwise. I actually was given additional responsibilities and taught more information about federal aid programs.
It was around January when I started to realize that I was going to need a job in 4 months. I was no longer going to be able to work at the school and it did not seem likely that a position would open up for me. Now remember in 2009, there was an economic crisis? Jobs were impossible to find. Where was a college graduate going to find a job with no experience? So I looked into jobs where I did have experience, which was in the financial aid office. I was doing a considerable amount more work than just filing and figured it was my best chance at having some experience to show on a resume.
I applied to every job I could find within my state and all of the bordering states, even some in California just because I would love to live there. I applied to 150 positions and got calls back from 2. I practiced interviewing diligently and landed my first job as a Financial Aid Counselor for $30,000/year.
My advice for soon to be college graduates is to not discount the experience you received working at the college as experience. Also, you MUST practice interviewing skills. I cannot express this enough. Lastly, when preparing for an interview, study ever possible fact about the future place of employment. “What do you know about our company…” is almost always asked in the interviewing process and shows your level of interest. Happy job hunting!