Note: This first-person account is part of a larger article, Job-Hunting Lessons from the Street: A Roundup of Recent College Grad Experiences.
Little do we know how or where we will find our first job out of college, but do not discount networking and investigating even those jobs or internships that may not sound all too appealing at first glance.
I never thought that I would ever want or enjoy a job in the insurance industry; however, the hands-on experience that I gained from my internship during my senior year in college led me to a full-time position in the insurance industry.
During my spring semester, I knew that I wanted to have an internship during the summer between my junior and senior year in college, however I had one simple problem — finding that internship. I attended career fairs and interviewed with business professionals that I had met in the last year and still had not obtained an internship by late spring. I visited the Career Services department that my school had to see if they knew of any businesses that offered internships in the area for that upcoming summer. The head of Career Services had met with a small business in the area the night before and said that it might be worth my time to contact them to see if they had any positions available. Since I felt down on my luck by this point, I figured it was worth a shot. I contacted the vice president of the company, introduced myself, and she asked that I send her my resume. Soon after, she contacted me to set up an interview with the president of the company.
During my interview with the company, I was asked what exactly it was that I was looking for. I explained that I was a marketing major and that ideally I would prefer an internship with a focus on marketing, but that I was open to learn and try new things and was really just looking for hands-on experience in the business world. They asked me the hard questions: Did I have any experience in the insurance industry or any desire for a job in insurance? I explained honestly that up to this point in my life I had never considered a job in insurance, but that I did not know much about the industry and was willing to learn through an internship. After much consideration, we agreed upon a paid internship and I was set up for my real-world experience for the upcoming summer.
Throughout the entire summer and the next school year, I worked as a part-time (and even paid) employee with this company that was gracious to offer me this opportunity to learn about the “real world.” I handled all of the company’s marketing efforts, but that was not what comprised most of my day-to-day activities. After being with the company about a month, they realized my potential and began to teach me the ins and outs of the insurance industry. By mid-way through my senior year, the president was talking to me about a full-time position within the company when I graduated in May. I was not quick to accept the position since I still did want a job in my major but told him that I would consider the offer during my job search.
During my last semester in college, my life began to get consumed with not only homework but with job searching. I attended the Career Fair that my school held, as well as posting my resume on the Internet and polishing my interviewing skills. The turning point in my job search came about several months before graduation. I was interested in one of the companies that I had met with at the Career Fair and had actually felt as though I had received a good vibe from them while discussing my qualifications and learning about their company. I was looking forward to interviewing with them but did not heard back from them to schedule an interview. I never thought of myself as a conceited individual, but I did know that I am an intelligent individual who possesses many valuable skills that many companies would benefit from. I never did hear back from this particular company so I had figured that they had filled the position internally. While talking with several upcoming graduating seniors, I began to discover that this company was actually still interviewing for a wide variety of positions and I discovered which specific graduating seniors were receiving call-back interviews. Having worked with several of these seniors in various school projects, I was well aware of their work ethics. I began to consider what exactly these individuals possessed that I did not have. The more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that I truly did not want to work for a company that could not realize my potential and skills.
I began to weigh my options for a career as graduation approached. I truly did not know what company I wanted to work for or what marketing position I wanted. The only thing that I was certain of was that I wanted to work in the area after graduation and that I wanted to work at a job that I enjoyed going to every day. I began to realize that this job was right under my nose — my current internship. I had enjoyed working in insurance for the past year, and had I not experienced the insurance industry through my internship, I never would have considered a career in insurance after graduation. I began to discuss the details of the job with the president shortly after so that I knew what salary and benefits were on the table as I wrapped up my job search. I continued to network and see what positions were available, weighed the pro and cons, and came to the conclusion with two months to graduation that I wanted to make my internship a full-time career.
As my fellow students were stressed with trying to find a job before they graduated and interviewing for their ideal position, I sat back and observed the offers that they were receiving. The more I watched others, the more satisfied I became with my decision because of the position I was taking and the benefits I would be receiving. I knew that I was not making a career commitment for my entire life, especially since most professionals switch their career focus approximately 2-3 times throughout their entire life, but I did know that for the next 3-5 years that I wanted to try this venture in my life and see where it would take me.
Before I had graduated, I was working as a full-time employee with full benefits while others were taking finals and preparing for their summer plans. I did not get a summer vacation like most of my other fellow students since I now was a full-time worker in the real world, but that did not bother me at all. I had a job with a company that I liked and truly did enjoy. To this day, I do not regret any decision that I made, and I still do enjoy my job with the company, and I continue to help both my company and myself achieve a lot. All of this proves to never count your eggs before they hatch and to look for even the best opportunities in life in the smallest places. When I first took my internship, I never would have guessed that I would love my job or that it would turn into a full-time position, but it did, and I am grateful for it. I took a chance in my life, and it truly did pay off in the long run as a full-time position in the real world.
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