By Kelly Gyenes, 02
The Real World, as portrayed by MTV in its hit show, may seem pretty hip. But most of us dont live with six strangers in a trendy furnished loft in the downtown of a major city having our lives recorded for public viewing. However, for those who are interested, MTV does hold auditions.
For the rest of us, the real world is not always so entertaining and it doesnt always air in prime time. However, the real world does hold promise for the future or at least thats the standard plan for college graduates.
Watch the nightly news or let your eyes rest momentarily on the headlines in the newspapers you pass on the street corners or in your neighbors driveway. You cannot miss the messages about layoffs, cutbacks and other challenges that lie ahead for those entering the besieged job market.
What happened to the days when having a college degree meant having a job waiting for you?
These days, you take a stroll through bookstores and have your choice of hundreds of titles promising the most clever cover letters and resumes that will win you the job of your dreams and maybe even a free trip for two to paradise! But I still have not found the book that will supply me the experience needed for that knock-em-out resume.
Armed with my soon-to-be degree in rhetoric and communication studies, I began my job search in earnest last summer, just before I graduated. With my stack of suggested job-hunting reading material by my side, I examined my skills and interests until I nearly drove myself mad. I interviewed with companies and applied for jobs day after day in nearly every industry that even remotely intrigued me. All of this was taking place during my final days of college while I was also interning in the Cable News Networks guest booking department.
Then one day I realized that like most people looking for things, the best opportunity in the world for me was already before me at CNN. The energy of the newsroom, the incredible people, and the constant challenges of research and investigations had captivated me. I realized I was not ready to give that up at the summers end in exchange for my degree.
But how could I get a real job with the Worlds News Leader? Much like a starved animal, I sought advice on entry-level employment.
You have to be in the right place at the right time, most people said. In the news business, I could not anticipate when the right time would be. So, while I had the opportunity to make an impression, I starting showing up for my unpaid internship every chance I got. Fortunately, all of the extra hours I put in especially early weekend mornings paid off with incomparable experience and exceptional training, which led to my later freelancing for the guest booking department.
I learned all I could about the position I was pursuing, the company itself and the characteristics an ideal CNN employee would possess. Then, I tried to find those attributes within my previous experiences and myself.
I was extremely fortunate. My solid references, hard work and good timing put me in the right place at the right time. I started working as a full-time video journalist with CNN in September, just a few weeks after graduating.
The reality of the real world is that no two people will ever get a job the same way. But by synthesizing words of wisdom from others, I can offer my personal list of job-hunting and career-building tips:
Play up your strengths and make the most of your experiences.
Never think any task is impossible.
Your personal traits of dependability, flexibility and communication skills are stronger than you may realize.
Attitude and enthusiasm are everything.
Seek out feedback on your resume.
Become an authority on the industry you want to pursue.
Try to enjoy the adventure leading to your employment.
Thank everyone along the way for their advice, their help, their teachings and their time.
Be prepared. There certainly are elements of the great employment quest that are out of your control; however, preparation enhances and speeds the journey.
Go for the job that best defines who you are, showcases your talent and allows you to put 100 percent of yourself into it. Its a tough real world out there be prepared to embrace it with its gifts and challenges.
© 2003, Richmond Alumni Magazine