As someone fresh out of college and about to embark on the adventure known as job searching, I possessed a confident and excited attitude. My resume was freshly updated which I felt would provide the golden ticket to getting in the door to a Fortune 500 company. It didn’t take long for me to become humbled by the lack of responses I was getting for jobs that I felt I was perfectly well-qualified for.
As it turned out, employers weren’t knocking down my door after all. I quickly realized that my strategy of sitting at the computer with a cup of coffee and sending out endless applications was not paying off. I recognized I needed a new strategy.
I was lucky to have a father that had built many relationships with people over the years that were more than willing to help out his unemployed daughter. The deal was that my dad would provide me with these people’s contact information but then it was up to me to take the initiative to ask for help. Now, I am a very outgoing person by nature, but if there was one thing that made me uncomfortable it was the idea of networking. However, I understood the value that these connections would bring to my job search. So I attended endless lunches, coffee meetings, and “informational meetings”. Every person I met had something different to offer me in the way of encouragement and advice on how to tackle my job search. After a while networking was still not something that was second-nature to me but I had learned to become good at it and embraced the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it”. Soon I had accumulated a wealth of knowledge and connections with people in all different industries, many of whom I still keep in touch with today.
My first two years in the workforce exposed me to frustrating circumstances and many learning experiences. I was laid off of my first two “real jobs” after a few months at each, which led me to question whether I was ever going to find my niche in the real world. I initially wasted time feeling sorry for myself until I realized that feeling sorry wouldn’t help me to find a job. So I hopped back on that proverbial horse and faced my job search head-on once again. Call it luck or call it determination but in November of 2008 I was offered a position as a Career Services Representative at RochesterWorks!. My message to all job seekers out there, whether new to the workforce, seasoned veterans or anywhere in between is: step outside of your comfort zone. Take chances. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to take advice from others and try something new. It just might land you somewhere you never expected to be.
Melanie McNamara, Career Services Representative at RochesterWorks!, spent her youth moving all around the world due to her father’s occupation as an international businessman. In 1997 her family moved to Rochester, NY where they currently still reside. She attended a small boarding school in New Hampshire and then went on to graduate from Colgate University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Native American Studies. One of the highlights of her college career was spending a semester studying in Seville, Spain. She possesses a passion for travel and culture, as well as sports such as ice hockey and lacrosse. She has been working at RochesterWorks! for two years and recently made a transition from working with adults to working with youth.