A Course Better Titled ‘How to Slay the Job Hunting Process’

I’d heard rumors about the class. It was helpful, it was hard, it wasn’t at all what I expected. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting, but the rumors were true. I chose to take this class as an elective. I just needed to fill a certain number of hours to graduate and this class seemed like something that would require minimal effort considering how closely it lined up with where I was in my life. I’m a second semester senior and I’m ready to graduate. I can say that confidently at this point (the final week of the semester) more-so than I could at the beginning of the semester when I started this class. I had thought I was ready at that point, but soon came to learn I was far from it. My résumé was intact but when it was reviewed by my professor I learned how barely intact it really was. I was missing basic elements that no one had ever mentioned should exist in a résumé. And don’t even get me started on cover letters. I had no idea how to write them.

The thing about this class is that everything I learned in the class could be self-taught by reading the books we were assigned or by regularly visiting the career center on campus. But here’s the other thing: the career center wasn’t a resource I fully understood until I took this class. There are thousands of books written to help recent grads with job hunting, résumé writing, and finding the “dream job” (in just three easy steps!)

This course has taught me that finding the dream job doesn’t exist in the way I once perceived it to exist. Finding any kind of job in so many easy steps doesn’t exist. Finding a job consists of wandering, putting yourself out there, conquering fears, editing and re-editing and re-editing and re-editing your résumé and cover letters until they reach a point that’s just under perfection. You won’t find the perfect job the first time around. All of this was revealed to me in this class and I was able to weave through knowing somewhat what I wanted to do to simply shrugging my shoulders every time someone even mentioned graduation, the job hunt, or the future in general. It’s strange though. I don’t feel as lost as I sound. I sound like I’ve lost all hope in the job search, that I’ve abandoned trying to find the dream job because it doesn’t exist, but I haven’t. I’ve had interviews for almost every job I’ve applied for, something I’m sure wouldn’t have happened without the help of this class. None have ended in an actual job, but the practice is great and hearing back is always encouraging.

Up until this class I was confused as to what kinds of jobs actually exist for English majors with little to no writing experience in the work world. I’m still slightly confused on that, but at least I’ve polished up my job searching skills, broadening my search to include unlikely job titles and cities I’ve never thought about living in.  I’ve learned to take the experience I do have and twist it to fit the jobs I qualify for.

This class also forced me into a lot of situations I wouldn’t have put myself in without taking this class, even though they’re situations I definitely needed to be put in. I never would have gone to the career fairs if not for this class, which resulted in making a valuable connection with a professional. I never would have done an informational interview, resulting in my desire to do more, to know more about possible job titles. I probably wouldn’t have quit my job at a large retail chain to work for a small, local coffee shop where I feel more valued than I ever did at my old job. This class has taught me to go after the things I want, even if I don’t know what that is at the moment. I honestly have 0% of an idea about what I want to do, but that hasn’t stopped my searching, my trying. I know I have a bomb résumé and every cover letter I write is enthusiastically swayed to fit each job description.

As I took this course I started thinking about how my job search would differ without the course, and how so many people are job searching without the help of this course. I needed it. I needed it so badly. I might still be a nervous wreck but at least I’m a nervous wreck that knows how to talk about her strengths. Liberal arts students aren’t taught business practices or how to properly shake a man’s hand. I honestly didn’t even know what an internship was until my sophomore year when I’d undertaken too many jobs and activities to even think about one. The number of questions asked from my classmates and me was endless because we were that out of the loop when it came to applying for jobs. But we’re learning. I wish I had learned long before senior year what I needed to know to dive into the workplace, but I’m glad I know now. I’m glad I’m graduating with the knowledge I need to master the job hunting process as a liberal arts major.

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