Recommendation Letter Recruitment

Nowadays, most job applications are submitted online. In many cases, they allow for you to attach ‘any extra materials’ that you think might be of importance. I’ve translated this to mean: include recommendation letters or perish into nonexistence due to  conformity. Recommendation  letters, though more of a staple, are certainly a necessary step in helping applicants stand out in a crowd.

In preparation for the submission of my job applications, I’ve been in correspondence with a couple of professors in hopes of their writing me recommendation letters. The last time I went through this process was in high school, when I mustered up the nerve to ask my teachers for college recommendation letters. I ended up getting a pretty by-the-book, fill-in-the-blank, generic recommendation from one of my favorite teachers (talk about a disappointment), and what I can only imagine was a glowing recommendation from my (overly?) complimentary guidance counselor (I never got to see that one, which is a shame because I’m always good for an ego boost).

But that was then, and this is now– a whole new ballpark. I’m asking these individuals to assist me in finding my way in the real world. I’ve received pretty positive responses so far, at least from one professor, who, despite not being within my major, I did a lot of work with, including an independent study (within my minor). It’s been wonderful getting back in touch with her, but I almost feel guilty asking her to write this letter. It occurred to me: think of all the letters she must have to write? What a pain!

Well, my other professor has found a way around such tedious tasks, and has actually told me to write my own recommendation letter. She’ll read it, approve or disapprove, hopefully edit it a bit, and then sign it. Now, I’m not one of those people who is their own biggest fan (see above mentioned comment about ego boost), so writing that letter was probably more of a trial than it would have been for her to have composed it. When constructing your own endorsement, you feel that you owe it to yourself to be a bit modest. But, at the same time, not overly modest (it is, after all, suppose to recommend you for the job…hence the name). It’s also hard for a person to see their own strengths, and equally difficult to identify one’s own weaknesses. I haven’t heard back from the professor yet, but I hope she takes some liberty and revises my muddled thoughts. It is, after all, difficult task to write a perfectly balanced review of oneself.

I like to think of these recommendation letters as an addition to my own cover letter. They highlight my strengths, passions, and past projects in a way that a resume just cannot. But this time, instead of singing my own praises via cover letters, a much more impartial audience is asked to solo.

Back to the Blog

It took me a couple of months of humid summer days and grueling summer job hours to get back in the game.

In May, I graduated from college (summa cum laude, thank you very much), and I felt the ground beneath my feet becoming dangerously unsteady. I returned home, taking up with my typical summer job, a constant and steady income that kept me, at least for a while, from worrying too greatly about my future in ‘the real world.’

But now, August is just around the corner, and as friends and family constantly remind me, it’s time to accept my status as a non-student, college graduate. There is no more delaying the inevitable. My job search must become a top priority rather than a passing concern.

So I’ve come back to the blog, which works as both a therapeutic sounding board for myself and a tool to keep me motivated and up-to-date with the world of media and communications. Basically, my return to the blogosphere is completely selfish, but I hope others will be just as happy to see me return.

This post is no more than an assertion of my return, an apology for my absence, and a proclamation of my intentions. I will continue posting on a regular basis, primarily concerning my usual topics, as well as a bit about my own job hunt and introduction to the ‘real world.’

Stay tuned!

The Trouble with Cover Letters…

…is that they’re hard to write.

As I go through the tedious process of applying for job after job, never hearing back from any of them, and then worrying that something is wrong with my email inbox, I’ve found that one of the most difficult parts is the cover letter.

How do I make myself appealing to a company?

How do I simultaneously express my uniqueness without sacrificing professionalism?

How do I properly convey my enthusiasm?

And, above all else, how do I hide my desperation?

Okay, the last one I’ve managed pretty well, but nevertheless the whole process is daunting.

With each new job possibility comes a new cover letter, or at least a new draft of the original. Right now, looking at my Documents folder, you would find at least 11 files with the words “cover letter” somewhere in the title. Many are just variations of each other, others are failed attempts at me being witty, none are, as of yet, successful.

When you google search “cover letter,” an abundance of websites pop up to assist in helping you write the perfect cover letter. The so-called experts and all of their knowledge is a bit overwhelming, causing me to take each suggestion with a grain of salt. I have, however, discovered that there are a few constants in masses:

1. Absolutly, Positivly, Unconditoinaly NO mispellings or grammatic erors.

(see what I did there?)

2. Take this opportunity to go into greater depth and detail involving your specific skills in relation to the job you are applying for.

3. Individualize it.

4. Highlight how you would be an asset to the company.

5. Each Cover Letter should be Company specific.

(this one might require researching the company, which is always a good idea if you’re applying to work there!)

Am I missing anything? Or is there, quite simply, no perfect recipe. No guarantees. No promises.

Each resume I send seems like a shot in the dark, I guess I’m just hoping one of them will get noticed.

A Professional Student’s Laments

Please forgive the lack of modesty here, but I’m a good student. Or rather, I’m good at being a student.

I breathe ‘A’s and eat compliments for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These things are simply important to me, and thus I’ve taught myself to be the best possible student I can. I’m not trying to say I’m smarter than all of my peers who get ‘B’s and ‘C’s, for I certainly know that is not the case. I am, however, saying that I’ve mastered the skill of studenting (let’s pretend that’s a verb for a bit).

Maybe it’s my PR mentality, but I’ve learned to position each assignment to the professor who has assigned it. I don’t mean this in a manipulative sense, since I never lie, cheat, or steal to get an ‘A.’ I simply observe. I realize that in one class, including a paragraph about politics in an essay would be beneficial, while if I had that same assignment with a different teacher, I might use an example tied in with family. You can learn much about teachers and their values by simply paying attention. I don’t bend my own beliefs when I position my work, I simply highlight what I know they would find most important and appealing.

More than that, I’ve perfected my own personal studying techniques. I know what works for me (writing, and rewriting, and rewriting my notes again), and I put effort into it.

I guess what I’m saying is, it took me long enough, but ever since I’ve entered college I’ve developed into what I can only refer to as a “Professional Student.”

And now it’s time for me to retire.

I graduate this upcoming May, and while I’ve been liberally applying to jobs, I’ve been unsuccessful as of yet. My fear, even if/when I  get a job, is that I simply won’t excel at it. I know how to be a good student. Years of training and practice and I’ve mastered the art. But now I’m being thrown into a whole other shark tank, where a  high GPA  could quite possibly be as meaningless as a bicycle to a fish (I hope everyone enjoys the aquatic theme of that last sentence).

I know many of my peers who, despite being nervous about getting out into the real world, are incredibly relieved to be done with their school careers. I, however, am hesitant. What if I can’t find success in a workplace? What if my best talents are those of being a student? I’m sure some of my skills will transfer, but I’m going to need to learn to play by a whole different set of rules.

While the concept of being  a Professional Student for the rest of my life has crossed my mind (think Buster from Arrested Development, minus the mother complex), I realize that I’ll be broke enough after graduating from my 4-years here to even think about any more schooling for a while. I may go back to graduate school, but I can’t go simply because I want to stay in school. I need to have a reason and a goal. I need to find a specific area of work that I enjoy and, hopefully, excel in. Then I can build on that.

So while I enjoy my last couple months of professional studenting (again, we’re pretending it’s a verb), I look with trepidation upon the future. Is it possible that I can someday drop the ‘student’ and learn to simply be a ‘professional’?

Entry Level in a 5+Years Experience World

With nothing but a meager semester standing between me and the career world, I can often be found browsing websites for job postings. While I could more easily define my greatest trouble as an inability to settle on what exactly I want to do, another major hurdle is the constant reminder that most companies are looking for experienced workers who have been in the field for “5+ years.” For this reason, I’ve resorted to searching for internships at these same companies, but they staunchly insist that to apply for an internship one must be a student. So what am I expected to do? I’ve clearly already lowered my expectations by willingly looking for jobs without pay (i.e. almost all internships ever), what more can I do?

In many ways, I regret not having taken more advantage of the internship opportunities while I was in school. And yet, my situation impeded me from every actually being able to pursue these opportunities. Both monetary and scholastic responsibilities prohibited me from the chances of the more glorious internships. In the summers, I had to work a paying job in order to help fund my education. Nor could I afford to take those distinguished out-of-state internships that would have required me to find some sort of housing. I’ve often thought about pursuing an internship in NYC, but there were too many hurdles in my way while I was still in school. During the semester, my internship opportunities were limited due to commuting difficulties and class scheduling. Now I’m most available to accept a position, unrestrained by school, location, and money. But now, companies are unwilling to accept me, despite an eager attitude and more than flexible schedule. Unless I’m applying for undergraduate credit, the answer is ‘no way,’ right off the bat.

(As a sidenote, I will admit to a bit of personal hesitance in pursuing more exotic–for a lack of a better word– internships during my college career. Now, however, I feel that I have not only grown into myself, but I am more willing to take risks in order to achieve dreams.)

Some companies, however, are more fostering for us just-out-of-school-graduates. For example, NBC’s celebrated Page Program is an incredible opportunity (and down-right good idea). The 12 weeks spent in this program help acclimate the eager participants to the industry. They are rotated throughout departments in order to get a full experience and a better understanding of what they themselves would like to pursue. It’s a perfect idea and, despite being heavily labor intensive for very little pay, a simply incredibly opportunity. I will honestly profess that being a part of the NBC Page Program would be a LITERAL dream come true (yes, I’ve had dreams about it). Sounds good, right? So what’s the catch? Well, due to the notorious nature of this program and its benefits (who wouldn’t want to opportunity to get a foot in the door at NBC), the chances of being accepted to this program are less likely than those of being accepted to Harvard.

I’m perfectly well aware that I will never, in any lifetime, be accepted to Harvard. I’m a diligent and hardworking student, with grades that properly reflect my work ethic. However, I am not a genius. I know this, and that’s fine. So, if I’m not getting into an Ivy League anytime soon, what are my chances at the NBC Page Program? Clearly this opportunity isn’t completely dependent upon an IQ test. I hope, though it may take few (times a thousand) applications, that I can at some point prove my worth to NBC. The Page Program would be priceless experience that I won’t give up on.

So, in the meantime, I’ll continue to troll the sites, searching for jobs that inevitably turn me down due to a lack of experience. To them I say– Take a chance. How am I to get experience, if you won’t simply take a chance.

Of course, I’m not above blog begging. So feel free to shoot out any ideas for media/PR/comm opportunities. I’m wide open.

On entering “the real world.”

Warning: This post will feature no tidbits of knowledge, pretty pictures, or catchy words.

I’m taking this time to write more of a personal post. This upcoming week I begin the last semester of my college career. While I find it hard to believe that four (amazing) years will have come and gone, I find it even harder to grasp the idea of being a part of what I have dubbed “the real world.”

Having an older brother, I remember two years ago when I saw him go through the same experiences as I am now facing. He graduated, we all cried, it was an emotional time. I couldn’t believe he had reached that point. I couldn’t believe that my childhood playmate, the kid who used to make me laugh as well as cry, the one who always knew how to set up the coolest Lego creations– he was graduating. I think it was around that time that I first realized that it wouldn’t be long until I found myself in that same position. And here it comes.

I’m almost 22, I’m about to graduate from college…now what?

As of yet, I don’t have a job. I’m a public relations major (um, seen the website?–duh) and I’ve absolutely loved the work that I’ve been able to do in that field. I’m a media enthusiast in general, and would love to combine my interest in film and television with my love for public relations.

The logical next step is the job search, an intimidating practice that I’ve attempted a multitude of times. From Monster.com to Indeed.com, to my university’s private job listings, the process is always lackluster and disappointing. The problem is finding an entry-level job in the first place. Most listings are looking for professionals with “min. 5 yrs exp.”

Why should an employer take a gamble on hiring a newbie, fresh out of school, who they will undoubtedly need to coach on the basics (no matter what experience the student may have had)? With today’s economic climate, convincing an employer of your worth is harder than ever. Jobs are scarce and the competition is fierce. It’s like a jungle out there (please ignore the corny phrasing).

But I will enter this final semester with my head held high. And come graduation? Well, there will be tears (plenty of them), but I promise to also look excitedly toward the next big adventure in my life, even if it means I’m entering “the real world.”