I’ve been job searching within my field for awhile now. From about mid-May to mid-June, I was searching pretty much full-time. I applied to anything and everything that interested me, even if it was slightly out of my field of expertise, but was something I wanted to do. I just needed to see what would stick. Almost nothing did.
Mid-June I got fed up with that and decided to switch things up. I’ve since narrowed my focus to internships and entry-level jobs that I am currently 100% qualified for and that I want to do. I’ve learned job titles that fit my skills include graphic designer, web designer, digital designer, or some combination of those. “Visual Designer” seems to encompass all of them, so that is what I am calling myself now.
At about the same time, I looked into picking up odd jobs through TaskRabbit and Craigslist. I probably haven’t been diligent enough in pursuing those options, but TaskRabbit has been really hit-or-miss for me. Much like my job search, it seems like a crapshoot.
Also around mid-June, I got in touch with friends of a professor of mine who run a small startup ad agency and they offered me an informal internship. It has been a positive experience; I’ve learned a lot, made some friends, had a downtown “base” to operate from, and gotten to do work I otherwise wouldn’t have done.
Since mid-June, I’ve been applying to anywhere from one to four jobs per week. Most of them I’ve heard of through saved job searches I have set up to email me every week. That might not sound like much, but when it can take an hour to apply to each with a custom cover letter and often lengthy forms, that time adds up fast.
What I’m saying is that I feel like I’ve hit a wall with my job search. I needed to have patience to “settle in” and see if I would get responses. In many ways I’m an optimistic and patient guy, but when I look at the results, it doesn’t look good. The truth is that I haven’t gotten many responses and, except for this internship, nothing has panned out yet.
My current game plan is to look more for freelancing gigs, contact staffing agencies, and directly inform recruiters what I’m looking for. If freelance work doesn’t come in fast, I’m also going to try to get a part-time job somewhere, most likely unrelated to design, but you never know. All that stuff has always been on my radar, just not at the forefront because I was hoping to have a design job by now.
I share in the frustration that many of my peers feel and that friends have voiced to me in the past. The general sentiment is that employers are more hesitant to take a chance on hiring inexperienced, recent grads than in the past. I have no doubt that if I had two years experience, I would already have a job. The thing is, I do have that experience, just not professionally. It again begs the question, “If every job requires experience, how am I supposed to get experience if no one will give me a chance?”
Job hunters nowadays have unprecedented expectations to live up to, competing in a global job market with people from around the world. The talent pool is bigger than ever before. Those who have come before us, the ones who criticize us, never had to deal with anything on this level. The feeling I get is that there aren’t many who are willing to take the time and risk to teach us “young uns.” I am adamant about finding good people who are willing to invest the time to teach me, but they are few and far between.
Maybe I am just spoiled. My father was a teacher at heart, and patient, but intense. Despite being constantly aware of his speed and efficiency, he would almost always slow down and take time to teach me something new or remind me how to do something he showed me before.
Maybe I expect too much from the older generations, from those with experience, from those who I want to learn from. All I know is that one day when I am in a position of power and influence, I will remember where I came from and take time to teach the next generation.
Maybe it’s time for me to create my own experience. Maybe it’s time to stop expecting others to rise to the occasion and recognize my potential.
Maybe it’s time to make my own luck.