How to Successfully Land a Job After College

I've thought about writing this highly requested post for a while, and I had not previously bitten the bullet and done it for many reasons: One, I didn't graduate with a job lined up. I took the summer off to travel and really think about what I wanted for myself. Two, I probably applied for over 100 jobs before getting hired somewhere. Three, I have quit blogging. Well, I guess if this is going to get published, I haven't quit blogging (an explanation for all of this might have to come in another post...) Four, I was making so many mistakes during the job application process–– now that I am on the other side of it and I help manage posting job descriptions and filter through resumes, I realize that. But now that the realization has come and I can see what I should have done, I can share that with you guys!

First, though, I am going to share what I went through when finding a job. I'm not going to sugar coat it because the process was rough. Not because I was underqualified, but because I didn't know what I was doing since I had never looked for a real job before. If you don't want to read my story, scroll down.

My Story

I began applying for jobs December of my senior year. I looked on mostly LinkedIn, filling out applications during free time and when I was bored in class, I would aggressively work on my resume/cover letters. I was applying to probably 20 jobs a week, even if it was something that did not completely interest me. I took my resume to my academic advisor who looked at it once, and despite my pretty good GPA of 3.5 and the A that I had in her class, told me that my best choice was going to Morocco and teach English because I didn't know what I wanted to do. She hated that I didn't have a set path, and she thought that would lead me to failure. I hated my advisor to begin with but that really sealed the deal. Her comment made me want to try even harder–– no teacher should tell a kid (no matter how good/bad their GPA) that they won't get hired anywhere just because they are lost.

As graduation rolled around, I had no clue where I wanted to move and I had no clue what I really wanted still. I did not want to settle for anything, so I held off and let it go. I took my three week trip to Africa in attempt to clear my head, and when I got home in June, I gave myself until August 1 before I had to find a job or move out of Savannah. I had a "for-fun" part-time job the entire summer, but around late July, the opportunity to move to NYC presented itself to me. I knew I had to take it and go even though I didn't have a job lined up–– I had heard it's much easier to move to New York and then find a job anyway!

I got settled in, and as soon as I changed my address on my resume, I got interviews. It turns out that people in NYC take you much more seriously if you're actually located in NYC. My first interview was with Business Insider, and it was over the phone. I thought it went really well, but I never heard back from them. I had an in-person interview with Louboutin as well and never heard back from them either. This sounds discouraging, but it is honestly common. Unfortunately, a ton of companies will not reach out to you to let you know that they aren't moving forward in pursuing you as a candidate, even if you email them to thank them for the interview and follow up. It's life. It sucks. You move on. You keep applying.

Eventually, one of my good friends Marlee sent me a job listing at a natural food company. I read up on the company, really studied it to make sure it aligned with what I was looking for and knew right away that I wanted the job. Badly. The company culture seemed amazing, and I loved that it had a start-up feel to it despite being pretty well established. After four interviews (a phone interview, an interview with my boss, an interview with the CEO, and a final breakfast interview), I got an offer and accepted it immediately.

After being at the company for seven months, I can honestly say I am so incredibly happy with my decision, and I am so grateful and happy for the opportunity. I have learned so much, and working in the food industry is amazing! We always have samples in the office, which means there is always deliciousness around. My job definitely is not easy, and more often than not, I find myself working on the weekends, but I am grateful for it all and I realize I am having to work extra hard because it's my first job.

How I Actually Got The Job/Tips For College Students

1. Make your resume as "you" as possible.
I was required to make a resume in high school–– our English teacher forced us to all draft one up junior year for college applications, and as I made one, I realized how little I stood out. I was shocked because I thought I was doing relatively well. I took a handful of AP classes and a bunch of advanced courses, and I was on the varsity tennis team all four years. If you think about it, legitimately 50% of students take advanced classes while being on a sports team, so it's honestly not special! I did not have my blog at the time to make myself stand out, and I was not really volunteering anywhere. If you're reading this in junior year of high school, make a resume and evaluate where you are at–– not to land a job 5 years into the future, but just to see your strengths and weaknesses on paper and where you need to improve. It helps to stand out and genuinely be interesting, I promise.

My resume obviously changed dramatically over the next 5 years–– I declared a Biology major, I started a blog that actually became relevant enough to be added to a resume, I transferred, I dropped the biology major, I added a Political Science major and Business minor, I worked on significant projects and volunteered at different places, etc. The one thing that never changed is that it was always "me." I never made shit up to look better. If I wanted to look better and stand out, I made an effort to be better to stand out. I worked with huge companies such as Anthropologie and Free People. I made sure it was known on my resume. If my GPA looked weak, I worked harder the next semester.

When I finally took my resume to my college English teacher senior year, she showed me how many missing pieces I had left out and how many accomplishments I could add to my resume–– she changed the whole game. She taught me how to tailor my resume to add all of the stuff I didn't even know was important. I learned that through my charity collaboration "Camp YIP" project that I could say I have hired interns (I have) and that I have experience with project management. That's just one example of something I would have never thought to put on my resume, but it really helped me stand out.

2. In your cover letter, don't just tell what you've done in the past–– tell the company what you can do for them in the future.
I wrote at least 80 cover letters–– many people use a template and change things for each job, but I started from scratch each time, making sure to convey what I would be adding if I were to join the team. In the cover letter I wrote for the job I currently have, this is the structure I used to write my cover letter:

Opener: Who you are and why you would be a perfect fit for the company you're applying to–– How has this company positively impacted your life so far (if applicable). If not applicable, say something you'll hope to gain from the company in the future. Make it sound like you really care. By the way, you should really care. If you don't, your heart probably isn't in it.

First Paragraph: This is where you'll want to put relevant past job experiences and how what you've learned from them can contribute to the company's success in the future.

Second Paragraph: What can you do for the company? Don't just put that you're great with Microsoft Word and Powerpoint and you have great public speaking skills–– it's boring, and most college grads have all of that stuff under their belt too. Don't be afraid to throw ideas around–– if you're applying to be a graphic designer, propose a really cool design project that you think will make the hiring manager excited.

Closing: Thank the hiring manager for considering you, include your phone number and email, and say you can be contacted if they have any questions.

So, you got a first interview somewhere! Now what?

3. Prepare for interviews, whether they are over the phone or in person.
Before an interview, you'll want to be armed with an arsenal of information about the company–– when it started, why, its mission and values, etc... Even if it's a phone interview, you should be completely prepared and know the background of the company so you're not pausing to google things.

4. Come to every interview prepared to answer questions AND ask questions.
Asking questions during an interview is almost as important as answering them. It shows that you are extremely interested in the position, and it also will help you get clarity on what to potentially expect out of the position. Some questions I have asked in interviews before are:

"What is the company culture like here?"
"What exactly would be expected out of me on a day-to-day basis?"
"What are your three favorite things about working at this company, and why?"
"What are the most important things you have learned since starting your position here?"
"Is there room for advancement/growth in this job?"

5. Be aware of your own non-verbal communication.
Want to know the reason it took me four interviews to get hired instead of the three it normally takes for someone to get hired at our company? Bluntly, I was told I have a resting bitch face and I come off as intimidating. My boss was a little worried about hiring me because I seemed too professional during interviews and I needed to lighten up a little. It's funny because if I had loosened up a little and acted more like myself in the interviews instead of being a prepared robot, it would have helped me!

This will vary from company to company, but it has to do a lot with company culture. Walk into the interview and project confidence, but also feel for vibes on how people communicate in the workplace.

6. Dress for the part.
Do not be afraid to ask for a dress code before heading to an interview–– if you have a phone interview first, ask the company culture question then so you can get an idea of the vibes around the office. I was told during my phone interview that the environment was super casual, so I did not wear a blazer to my first in-person interview. I wore pixie pants, a cute white top, and mules. I felt way more comfortable in the interview than I would have been if I had worn a suit.

If you have doubts about what to wear, always go more professional though. You don't want to show up underdressed. It's the worst! Thankfully, it has never happened to me, but I have seen a few candidates walk through our door in light wash jeans and it makes me cringe.

So your interviews went extremely well, and you have been offered the position!! Now what?

7. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want.
Ah, salary negotiation. The thing I had no idea how to approach and I got super awkward about!! Do your research! Go on Glassdoor and look up the starting salary for your job position in your city. Use this as a base, but don't be afraid to add a little more to it. The worst that can happen is your company counteroffering it with a lower offer. Know your worth!

8. Make the most of your time off before you start your new job.
Unless you start immediately, you'll probably have a week or two to prepare for your new job. I had 2 weeks and used the time to go home and visit my family. After a stressful 2 months of job hunting, it is exactly what I needed. I actually ended up having terrible strep throat while I was home, and it was nice to have my mom to take care of me so I could go in on my first day feeling refreshed. 

Use this time to make sure you have the appropriate work wardrobe, and if you have been sent any reading materials in advance, this is a great opportunity to conquer them. 

9. Make friends on your first day.
Introduce yourself to everyone you possibly can, and make an effort to start conversations with co-workers. It is helpful if other people are starting the same day as you because you already have something in common with them! Stick with each other–– one of my work BFFs is a girl that started the same day as me! Network as much as possible, even if it seems a little overwhelming. People appreciate friendliness, and they will remember it.

10. Smile, and take time to realize what you have accomplished!
Landing your first job is a HUGE deal. Seriously, be proud of yourself and have a celebratory dinner and a drink with friends after your first day! You deserve to be celebrated, especially after months of stressfulness and hard work.

Happy job hunting!! 

xoxo,

Isabella

What's Going On In My Life?

It's pretty obvious that I haven't posted much this month–– besides a recap of last year and sharing my goals for 2018, it's been pretty silent. This is because I decided to post less about fashion and more of what actually interests me right now, and well, I'm still trying to figure out what I am passionate about at the moment. Earlier this month at my company retreat, we had a purpose session in which we took the day to dive into our pasts and what they mean for the future. After basically spending the day in therapy with my coworkers (that's what it felt like–– free therapy), I came to the realization that part of my purpose is to always be creating new things and exploring new ideas. I'm the kind of person that always needs to be working on something fun and new to be excited–– at one point in my life, it was tennis, then blogging/photography, then going to Africa and taking major risks, and now I'm trying to figure out what is next!

One of the things I am dedicating my time to right now is being healthier and getting in shape. I've been doing pretty well so far. Since December 25, I have worked out almost every single day, only missing 4 days, one being today because I'm starting to get a cold and I don't wanna push it (I seriously get sick so easily). Missing only 4 days within almost a month? I'll take it. I have also been cooking almost every single meal for myself, and I have been eating salads for lunch (Sweetgreen's Rad Thai salad is lit) instead of just snacking on trail mix, cookies, and chips at work. Ok, enough about that! Here are some other things that have been happening lately!

  1. I got a MoviePass card. I have been wanting to watch more movies because I am usually so out of the loop when it comes to them. I just saw I, Tonya the other day, and I am dying to see Lady Bird next. Do you guys have any other movie suggestions?
  2. I took outfit photos. Well, Kate took outfit photos for me. I had brunch with both Kate and Caroline this weekend and had no intention of taking photos. I left my camera behind on purpose and went with the intention of gorging on brunch and catching up/chatting with both of them, but Kate snapped these of me and I actually like them! Kate was also kind enough to let me borrow her glasses since I had the usual bags under my eyes and hadn't washed my hair since my run the day before. She's the real MVP.
  3. I found the cutest stuff at Lululemon this weekend. Align leggings are my new favorite things in the world, and I love this cropped tank and this tank as well. I also got these leggings in the color "jet stream" and this top. For about 8 months, I did not shop at Lululemon because I was not sure it was worth the money. Now that I went back, I cannot believe I went that long without making a purchase!
  4. I've had the best time with friends lately. Over the past few weeks, I have gotten to catch up with friends I haven't seen in awhile and it has been so lovely. You know those friends you have that you don't see for months at a time and you don't necessarily talk all of the time but when you see each other again, you pick back up like nothing ever happened? I value friendships like that so much–– at this point in my life, everyone I know including myself is so busy so it's hard to stay connected all the time! 
  5. I am addicted to Plated. I love the idea of meal kits, and I am forcing myself to also explore Blue Apron and HelloFresh. My roommates have tried the others, so we can all send each other free boxes. It's so fun to learn new recipes, and it's amazing to have it all delivered to my door so I don't have to go grocery shopping after work. Somehow, the courier lost my box yesterday, and I was DEVASTATED–– I have to grocery shop tomorrow after living off of frozen dumplings and zucchini fries I found in the back of my freezer. I contacted Plated's customer support though, and those guys took care of me! Once I try all of the subscription services, I am going to do a master post on what I liked and disliked about them all! I am getting my first Blue Apron box Thursday, and I have to say that Plated has an advantage over the number of meals they let you choose from.
  6. I found the shearling bag I am sporting above for under $70 at Madewell the other day. It's completely sold out online, but it's worth looking in the store sale section for it! I love that Madewell usually lets you put your student discount on top of their sale discounts (and yes, I still use my student ID for discounts thank you very much). 
  7. IT WAS SO PRETTY OUT THIS WEEKEND. It was 50 and sunny, which is heaven up here. People were eating ice cream and wearing short-sleeved shirts, and I spent all of Saturday wandering around flatiron while letting the sun beam down on me. Yesterday, I ran all the way from 28th Street to Brooklyn Bridge on the East River Greenway. I was freezing by the end and had to subway back, but the fresh air and vitamin D was worth it.
  8. You guys. Pressed Juicery freezes. They are so amazing, I cannot. If you have a Pressed Juicery near you, please do yourself a favor and try one of the freezes. They basically make their juices into dairy-free ice cream! I had the strawberry flavored freeze with melted cacao chips and real strawberries post-run and I was squealing from delight. They were out of chocolate and vanilla, but I cannot wait to try those–– I am so amazed that their vanilla flavor is only made of dates, almonds, sea salt, and vanilla!
  9. I have practically given up alcohol for the most part. Besides the occasional drinks on the weekend, I don't really feel the need to drink anymore–– I have realized that I can have just as much fun sober. My new rule is no drinking during the week unless it's a very special occasion, and on the weekend, only 2 drinks a night if any. It's working out rather well–– no more hangovers and feeling terrible the next day!
  10. Since starting a job in the food industry, I have come to appreciate food and cooking so much more. I have also tried so many new foods, and I am not as selective as I used to be! I'll put the hottest hot sauce on almost everything, I can whip up teriyaki sauce from scratch, and the other day, I had parsnip for the first time–– I would have never thought to try it, but it's so good when you roast it alongside carrots! Does this make me sound three years old? It probably makes me sound three years old.

SHOP THE POST

How to Stay Positive During A Gloomy Winter

I'm not going to sugar coat things–– my happy mood usually goes from 100 to 0 this time of year. There's something about frigid days and shorter temperatures that puts me into a mental downward spiral, but over the past few weeks, I have managed to claw myself out of it. Honestly, this has been my best January yet so far! I think the following things have really helped me turn things around.

Keeping a positive attitude
This sounds stupid and simple, but every year when winter rolls around, I automatically assume I'm going to be down and bummed––this puts me in a negative mood because I'm thinking bad thoughts and it amplifies the bad energy. This year, I have been telling myself that it's going to be the best! winter! yet! and it honestly has. Tell yourself that it will be ok repeatedly, and you'll start to believe it.


Do something good for yourself (at least) once a week that requires you to leave the house 
Work/school and your normal routine don't count for this. Instead of sitting on the couch or taking a nap, sign up for a new yoga class, go and get a facial, or treat yourself to a movie–– I just signed up for MoviePass and I am super excited for my subscription to start because there are so many movies I want to see! It's hard to get out of bed and get moving when the temps are below freezing, but you'll feel better afterward. Yesterday, I skipped my barre class and slept in because I was too cold to get out of bed, and when noon rolled around I regretted it instantly. I felt sluggish and gross instead of energized and inspired. Today, I made myself get up for 9:00AM cycling and I felt AMAZING afterward. Sometimes, you just have to push yourself to get moving and you'll build momentum from there.

Have a movie/lazy day
Contradicting my last point, sometimes it's good to just relax and stay in bed if you feel like it. Today, after cycling, I watched 6 episodes of This Is Us and it was just what I needed. I only got out of bed to drink a smoothie for lunch and have cauliflower pizza for dinner, and it was so blissful. There's nothing better than putting on long PJs and comfy socks when the temperature is in the single digits outside.



Try light therapy and Vitamin D Supplements
Fact: My favorite thing in the world is sunlight. I'm a huge fan. If you want to win me over, stick me on a tropical island in the middle of summer. In NYC from November - March, the sun hangs low and barely peeks over the buildings so you never really see it. I was on the phone with my mom the other day and walked through a patch of sunlight and started screaming from happiness and just stood in it for like 10 minutes. My mom and bystanders thought I was legitimately crazy, but it was the highlight of my day. Since the sun is scant during these months, I use my happy light and Vitamin D pills as substitutes. I don't know if they actually work, but I do feel better!

Give yourself fun things to look forward to
I booked a trip to the Bahamas with my best friend in May, and I am so excited. I am looking at it as a reward for getting through my first northern winter. I am also going to Winter Park, FL for my college alumni weekend in March, and it will be a nice little break from the chilly air here.


Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!
If I could give you one tip for turning your winter around, this would be it. I have worked out for 14 days in a row now, and I have honestly never felt mentally or physically better. Doing so has allowed me to lay the foundation for a good routine that I want to keep up all year. Elle Woods was right when she said endorphins make people happy. Even if you start out with 30-minute walks, you'll feel better, I swear. I have a gym in my apartment building, so I have been getting in hour-long workouts that allow me to binge my favorite shows while on the treadmill. I try to not watch TV unless I am on the treadmill, so it's an incentive for me to work out, especially since I am now addicted to This Is Us! My favorite workout right now is walking on the treadmill at a 5-10% incline and 3.7-4.2 speed for 45 minutes. It's a good LISS workout that won't leave you sore but gets the job done. I follow that with 10 minutes of abs/weights!

My Favorite Clothing/Shoe Purchases of 2017

I think it has become pretty obvious that I am posting less about fashion and outfits on here, but I did want to share my favorite purchases of 2017–– all of these are pieces I truly loved and got a ton of wear out of this year! Some may be sold out or unavailable so I have done my best to link similar products. I made sure I didn't list anything that wasn't 100% loved and approved by me!

My chevalier jacket–– this lightweight "blazer-like" jacket made for some great outfits, and it was a staple piece I am glad I purchased. Although it was over $200, I know I will get loads of wear out of it!



My checked blazer–– this was a super inexpensive find at Bershka, but I cannot seem to find it anymore so here's a similar one. I look forward to wearing this again when it warms up a little, especially with a turtleneck thrown under it!

The jeans I am wearing with my checked blazer–– Funny story... I wore these to work today and one of my coworkers was wearing them as well. Actually, a few of the girls I work with have this exact same pair (we have a very Madewell-loving office). Then, I popped into the MZ Wallace store to look at totes and the cashier had them on too! They are the only jeans that have ever made me look like I have an ass in a good way, and they look wonderful with a black bodysuit or a tee tucked in.

My Sam Edelman loafers–– I got these because there was no way in hell I was paying for Gucci loafers, and I fell in love with how comfortable they are! I was not expecting much, but they are an absolute wardrobe staple while being comfortable for all of the walking I do on a daily basis.


My white overalls–– This sounds silly, but these things got me through the summer. I bought them on a whim when they were final sale, and they are the only pair of overall shorts that have ever looked good on me. They are unfortunately not available anymore, but I have linked similar ones!

These Mother jeans–– These definitely are not available anymore, but I am dying to get my hands on the ripped version they are now selling. These jeans fit me just right and are the most flattering cut. I picked these up in California earlier in the year, and they were a major spring/summer staple.


My Club Monaco tie-front dress–– this was great to wear to work in the summer. It was lightweight, fit just right, and never stretched out. Since I purchased this way back in June, it's no longer available and I have not been able to find a similar modest version, so the one I linked has a cutout. It would still be cute in the summer if you have a beach vacation planned for 2018!

My Gucci Purse–– I got this on sale through a friend, and although I probably spent too much on this for how little I use it (at least I realize this now), it still makes outfits pop and is perfect for going out (although I don't really go out much anymore––cheers to getting older).


My Dolce Vita black booties–– these elongate my legs, and although they are on the taller side, I can wear them all day and night without any pain at all! They are also on major sale right now.

Spanx leather leggings–– There's a reason these are so popular. They are so flattering, suck you in perfectly, and are great for day and night. Bloggers everywhere love them, but I was not convinced until I tried them on in a store. I can even wear them to work!

What were some of your favorite purchases this year? I am always looking for tried and true staple piece recommendations, so please let me know if you have any–– especially jeans because I really need to refresh that portion of my wardrobe!