The day I graduated college was nothing short of the most frightening day of my life. I had an education and around $1,000 in my bank account, but no job leads. I had quit my part-time job as a pharmacy tech the summer before my senior year to pursue an internship at a television news station, but that internship had ended the second I went from student to graduate. They couldn’t hire me, because they were furloughing their employees at the time and not looking to hire anyone new anytime soon.
Every other broadcast station and newspaper in the region was doing the same, so I began applying at retail stores. I had a dilemma, though. I only had enough money to cover one more month of rent, which meant I had less than a month to find a job. To make a long story short; I didn’t find work and had to move back in with my mother. Thankfully, I had received a few hundred dollars from friends and family as graduation gifts, and I had plans to save as much of it as possible until I found a job.
But it was summer; those three months out of the year when the sun beckons you to get outside and enjoy its warmth and mingle, and I wasn’t about to let it all go to waste in my quest for employment. Even though I felt a ping of guilt about not structuring every single weekday around a formal job search and spending my “savings” on extracurricular activities, my conscience didn’t suffer too much. I wanted to have some fun in the sun, and not focus entirely on financial planning. In fact, it became my goal to have a good time that summer while also finding a job.
Four days a week, I would search and apply for jobs both on the internet and in person. The rest of the week was spent traveling to nearby tourist spots, swimming, hiking and socializing on the patios of the city’s most popular restaurants and bars. I made sure to only plan trips that were no more than 60 miles away to places where admission was free, such as my state’s capitol building and various city and state parks. Whenever I ordered food or drinks, I always got the cheapest thing on the menu. This allowed me to do the things I wanted without sucking my bank account dry. In fact, I was able to enjoy an entire month of fun while only spending around $250.
Here’s the part of the story that is most important; I finally landed a job after about two months of searching. However, I didn’t get any calls back from the literally hundreds of applications I had filled out online and in person. Nope, I never even heard back from a single business that I applied to. Au contraire, I was hired for my first job after meeting the manager of a brand new hotel at a local bar.
We chatted. I told her I was a recent grad looking for a job. She told me she was the manager of a new hotel in the area that hadn’t even opened yet and that they were looking to hire 20 front desk workers by the end of the month. It was literally that easy. I went home that evening, applied for the job online and was hired within two weeks.
Although I never expected my first job out of college to be as a hotel clerk, I knew that the job market wasn’t very strong and that I had to take what I could get. The pay wasn’t that bad, and the job was actually pretty fun. I decided to accept it as a blessing, because I knew that employment was better than unemployment.
In the end, working at the front desk of a hotel turned out to actually be more valuable than I thought. Because I was interacting with thousands of guests every month, I was able to continue networking. Although it didn’t help me get my next job, it did help me strengthen my networking skills, and I learned a lot about the job market in various cities across the United States.
At the end of that summer after graduation, I had a job and a tan. I also had hope that my future could be bright and that building a career doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying life.
As a freelance writer, Melanie Foster enjoys sharing valuable information about formal education and life-long learning. In addition to regularly contributing articles to OnlinePHDPrograms.com, Melanie also writes for numerous other websites and blogs related to self-guided learning and mind enrichment.