right arrow
GUEST STUDENT OF THE WEEK: AMALehigh is a rising sophomore at Lehigh University, majoring in Finance. He answers questions about academics, networking, finance, Greek life, or Lehigh in general. ASK HIM ANYTHING!
Make sure to check out our July Checklists for HS Juniors and HS Seniors. Consult these quick resources to get you started on the process this month.
As we work to adjust to the current reality, make sure to check out these dedicated COVID-19 resources: our directory of virtual campus tours, our directory of extended deadlines, as well as the list of schools going test optional this fall.

Life after the Ivy League: Surviving unemployment without losing all self-confidence

lyrabelacqualyrabelacqua 33 replies1 threads New Member
edited August 2011 in Parents Forum
Approaching a month since graduation with no prospects. No one to commiserate with because all friends are employed now. Tried applying; most don't even bother with a form letter. Tried networking; no one replies to my emails. Resent applying for administrative assistant and receptionist when everyone else is analyst or associate. My grades aren't that bad, I worked through college, I did three internships, everybody says I'm brilliant... if this is how it's going to be, what did I take on all that debt for?

It's at least four months until I'm out of money, but this is totally dispiriting. Would appreciate words of support; my cover-letter sincerity is running low.
edited August 2011
48 replies
Post edited by lyrabelacqua on
· Reply · Share

Replies to: Life after the Ivy League: Surviving unemployment without losing all self-confidence

  • powerbombpowerbomb 3045 replies319 threads Senior Member
    sorry, not a college graduate or parent so not much advice to give, but bookmarking for interest.
    · Reply · Share
  • blossomblossom 10389 replies9 threads Senior Member
    What kinds of jobs are you applying for, did you have a professional at career development review your resume and standard cover letter, how long have you been looking, did you go through career development on campus and if so, how many informational interviews did you do, did you get a video critique of your mock interview, etc?

    We are all happy to be supportive, but you need to provide a little more context. If you've applied for 20 jobs over the last month, I can assure you that at this pace, it will take you a very long time to find a job. If you've been networking and contacting alums, working with career development at college, etc. for over 6 months and have applied for 150 jobs with no response- that's something else.

    This is a full time job for you.

    And no, you don't need to be brilliant to find a job. Just tenacious as a pig looking for a truffle.

    How much geographic flexibility do you have? If you have just graduated from Harvard and are looking to stay in Boston it will take you much longer to find a job than if you're willing to go anywhere between the Atlantic and the Rockies, or Maine-Florida.

    But regardless- you MUST get in touch with career development at your school. You have paid for their advice and help, and you might as well take advantage of it. They will already have the on-campus recruiting calendar for Fall of 2011- find out if you are eligible to sign up since you are still unemployed. If not, get one of the counselors to help you map out a strategy.

    Did you get any full time offers from your internships, and if not, why not? Do you have contacts there you can reach out to for help? Someone who supervised you for a summer will be much more disposed to help you than a random stranger getting an email from you.
    · Reply · Share
  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    Hmm, you might want to read LegendofMax's threads from a couple of years ago. He had a really tough time two years ago (when the economy was much slower than it is now), but is now gainfully employed in NY.




    You didn't say what your major is or your GPA, or what field you are searching in. What have you done through your college's career counseling office? Any possibilities from your internships? Are you on LinkedIn? Parents might have some specific suggestions if you provide more info.

    When did you actually start seriously looking (a month ago)? I have 25 years of experience in my field, and just looked for about 2 months for a new contract position. I settled for a bit less money for a client that is a really short commute from my house, which I consider a worthwhile trade that gave the client a good deal for no cost on their part; otherwise I suspect I would still be looking. And I am in a part of the country where the economy is pretty decent compared to many others.
    · Reply · Share
  • oldfortoldfort 23473 replies308 threads Senior Member
    OP- don't give up. How are you applying for jobs? Where are you living now, near where you would like to work? My daughter's good friend graduated with an engineering degree and no job at graduation. She also applied to many different places without a lot of luck. She finally decided to move to Boston where her BF was working and applied in person. She was offered a job within a week. I think nowadays many employers do not want to spend money in moving employees, they rather hire local people.

    I think you graduated from Dartmouth. Can't you continue to work with the school's career center?

    What kind of job are you applying for? You just wrote you didn't want to work as an assistant or receptionist.
    · Reply · Share
  • ellemenopeellemenope 11344 replies36 threads Senior Member
    The process of getting a career job is not like getting a job at McDonalds. You don't interview one day and then they call you on the phone the next day with a job offer. On another thread, one kid was on her FOURTH interview at the same company.

    So be patient...
    Resent applying for administrative assistant and receptionist when everyone else is analyst or associate.

    One thing that happened to that same person mentioned above--she came in to interview for an assistant job, but was then put into the pool for higher up job (that hadn't even been advertised yet). Don't underestimate the power of getting your foot in the door at a company...

    And quit comparing yourself to your friends' experiences. Not a helpful exercise...
    · Reply · Share
  • cbreezecbreeze 4735 replies92 threads Senior Member
    If all your friends are employed, network through them.
    · Reply · Share
  • lyrabelacqualyrabelacqua 33 replies1 threads New Member
    Apologies for the lack of context. My question was more about how to keep a positive attitude than about you finding me a job. That said, my degree is in the social sciences and my average just under a B+, but I don't apply for anything that asks for grades or transcripts. The part about being brilliant was facetious, but I know (and past supervisors would tell you) I'm a good employee even if I'm miserable at getting employed. My work and internship experience is in policy analysis, social innovation, and digital media, and I've worked for some respectable nonprofits.

    I graduated from Dartmouth, not Harvard, but I'm tied to Boston as my boyfriend (of four years, soon-to-be fianc
    · Reply · Share
  • lyrabelacqualyrabelacqua 33 replies1 threads New Member
    oldfort, your daughter's friend's story is encouraging! We only moved a few days ago, but after the long weekend I plan to call the people I'd previously emailed and ask for informational interviews. It's clear I need to be patient and unrelenting, but patience does not come to me easily and it's difficult to stay motivated faced with nothing but silence.
    · Reply · Share
  • lyrabelacqualyrabelacqua 33 replies1 threads New Member
    ...And triple-posting to say it's not that I, personally, think I'm too good for an administrative job, or anything like that. More like expectations feel so high because of this degree, I'm afraid that I'll be looked down on for not getting a "prestige" job right away, or a casualty of this economy stuck filing papers and answering other people's phones foreverandever because I didn't get the perfect start. Go on, tell me I'm an idiot! But that really is how it feels.
    · Reply · Share
  • limabeanslimabeans 4649 replies105 threads Senior Member
    Don't loose heart. It's tough out there, regardless of how your friends are managing.

    First, stop comparing your self. Along with this, stop worrying about grades. Grades are really only important for that first job, and a B+ average is fine. Next, figure out some dream jobs. Often people want to help, but when they ask "What kind of job are you looking for?" and you don't have a clue, it's hard to help you. Then, don't fret about taking an assistant admin. job or a temporary job. That is a great way to gain the experience you're missing. And often those are the jobs that open up because the person you're replacing has been promoted.

    One benefit to LinkedIn is to be a name dropper. For instance, if you know there's a job at Company X and you know someone there, (or someone you know knows someone there), it's not so bad to use that or better yet, contact that person and ask if he/she can refer you.

    Summertime is a tough time to be looking, but certainly use Dartmouth's Career Center website and something will come up.

    ETA: (post #10) maybe you're just more realistic than your colleagues care to admit. Most grads don't walk into a super top position right out of college.
    · Reply · Share
  • 2boysima2boysima 1737 replies57 threads Senior Member
    You might find want to reconsider the administrative job. See letter in today's NYTimes business section:
    Creativity and Fulfillment
    Published: July 2, 2011
    ... happiness is a byproduct of consistent accomplishment, even in a field that is not glamorous or creative.

    I am creative, but after graduating from college, I chose an office job that might seem unfulfilling to some people... I never expected personal fulfillment through my job, though ironically, I often experience it. And I never feel overqualified.

    I have been derided by “friends” for being a secretary. “You don’t care about prestige,” one said. “True,” I answered.

    I do care about health insurance, my small but welcoming apartment (I alone pay the rent)....

    And as the recession shows no signs of abating, I feel lucky to be a career legal secretary.
    · Reply · Share
  • oldfortoldfort 23473 replies308 threads Senior Member
    OP - my daughter will be working in NYC, and her BF is in DC. They plan on commuting back and forth to see each other on weekends. He has the kind of job which he could work from home few times a week, so he could go up to see her more often. He is looking for opportunities of getting a job in NYC at some point. Try not to rule out a job in a different city than your BF.

    Similar to you, he was diagnosed with ADHD senior year in college. He struggled in college, felt like he couldn't focus on getting his school work done. He didn't graduate with very high GPA, but he was lucky to be abel to get a job at a top consulting firm. Since he has beeen diagnosed and taking medication, he is able to do focus better and getting his work done faster. He kicks himself for not having gone to a doctor earlier because he felt he could done better in school. Try to keep up your medication and continue to see your doctor.

    D1's friends with jobs are the ones who were more flexible. One friend wanted to do marketing (for consumer goods), ended up working at a technology firm. Another one wanted to be a weather person on TV, ended up at a small station down south. A friend's son graduated from Dartmouth last year. He majored in films. He is pursuing his dream in NYC, but his parents are helping him out. I don't think everyone who graduated from Ivies has a dream job. Don't be too hard on yourself.
    · Reply · Share
  • dragonmomdragonmom 6116 replies155 threads Senior Member
    Complicating things, this April I was diagnosed with fairly severe ADHD. Medication helps but I'm rationing it because of the deductible, and I had to quit therapy when I left Hanover. My r
    · Reply · Share
  • fireandrainfireandrain 4705 replies54 threads Senior Member
    You are in a tough situation, and I totally understand that it is really hard to stay positive when you are getting a lot of rejections. If you have any friends who are actors, you might want to talk to them -- they might give you some advice on how to stay positive despite constant rejection.

    As depressing as this may sound, in life you end up making a lot of compromises. You are going to have to figure out your priorities and make some compromises. If you want to stay in Boston to be with your boyfriend, then you might have to compromise on the job you get (IOW, take an admin asst job). If the job is really important to you, compromise on being in the same city as your boyfriend. I've known many couples who had to live apart for a few years -- they survived. In this economy, it's going to be really hard to have it all. Some people are lucky and get a great job in a great city. Most aren't.

    Your grades are fine, and you should not be limiting where you are applying. Plenty of people get great jobs despite having lower than a B+ average. In this economy, you are hurting yourself by limiting where you apply.

    And while I understand your concern about working a lower-level job, there are some benefits to it. One is that it is MUCH easier to get hired if you are already employed. I'm not sure I understand why that is, but it's true. Maybe it's because the air of desperation isn't hovering about you. Maybe because it's proof that you can hold down a job. Also, and again this is because of the economy, scads of recent college graduates are settling for less-than-impressive jobs.

    If people don't respond to your emails, call them. Don't be afraid to be persistent. Sitting back and waiting for them to respond to you is not showing your future employer that you can take initiative. Even better, use the alumni network at Dartmouth to figure out who knows someone at that company who can call someone who can get you an interview. If it's a job you really want, visit the company in person. If it's a nonprofit, ask if you can volunteer.

    Linked-In: I don't use it, but I've heard others describe how it works. First, make sure that your former employers recommend you and write good things about you on the site. Second, there are groups on Linked-In for specific fields. For example, there are groups for human resource personnel, for people in the media, etc. These groups have discussion forums -- find them, start participating, connect with other people in your field. People actually post jobs in these forums.

    I am pretty sure that you are a certain former poster who we all helped survive the college application process. I know this will sound a little odd, but I actually did just think of you today and was wondering how you were doing (you are in my daughter's year, so I took particular note of you). Many of us old posters will remember you, and we will want to help you. Perhaps you could be more specific in describing the type of job you want -- maybe someone here can help you!

    Congrats on graduating (I think you had some obstacles along the way) and continue to keep us informed.
    · Reply · Share
  • lyrabelacqualyrabelacqua 33 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for the stories, oldfort; it really helps to hear! Agree that getting diagnosed earlier would have been helpful, but I wasn't outwardly disruptive so until academic demands surpassed my ability to compensate it wasn't caught.

    My parents live abroad and don't have American healthcare, so I can't be on their plan; I'll have to pay the deductible out of my savings. Scared of running through the money when I don't know how long I'll be out of work (with parents overseas, don't have the safety net of moving "home"), but unmedicated getting work will likely take much longer.

    Edit: Crossposting with fireandrain, who remembers correctly that this board got me into college, no joke. I'm going to sleep and will need to respond later, but I really appreciate your post!
    · Reply · Share
  • LennonLennon 201 replies2 threads Junior Member
    If you've identified some organizations or companies where you would like to work, call their HR department and ask if they hire temps. Or if they can tell you which agencies they use for their temps. With the down economy, a lot of entry level positions are farmed out to temp agencies. It's a good foot in the door, gives you some more practical experience, can expand your network and put you in the right place to learn about openings that might be suitable for you.
    · Reply · Share
  • compmomcompmom 11774 replies81 threads Senior Member
    One month is not a long time for job hunting. All around the country there are thousands and thousands of people who have been looking for a few years, many of them with families to feed.

    I have noticed that one by-product of an Ivy League education is this kind of comparison with others, in terms of prestige. It is very destructive. Take an administrative assistant position and see where it takes you.

    Also, read about the strength-based treatment of ADHD, and maybe ultimately try to find work that uses these strengths. Cape Cod Institute: Edward Hallowell: Unwrapping the Gifts: A Strength-Based Approach to ADHD Across The Life Span
    · Reply · Share
  • blossomblossom 10389 replies9 threads Senior Member
    OP- thanks for the context. I'm sure it seems like you've been looking forever- but you've barely begun the job search!

    Although it may seem that most of the jobs that Dartmouth's career office can refer you to are in finance or consulting, the professionals there can still help you. They can edit your resume and cover letter; help you with your interviewing skills; put you in touch with alums who work for organizations that you might be interested in; identify job boards and networking associations in your field of interest, etc.

    Have you checked out Idealist.com, Chronicle of Philanthropy, activistjobboard.com, even the IABC? (International Association of Business Communicators-- a good source of jobs for media relations and public affairs, which most advocacy organizations tend to hire quite aggressively). The not-for-profit world (i.e. think tanks, foundations, advocacy, etc.) has its own hiring protocol- and Dartmouth surely sends more graduates there than just Teach for America! I would be astonished if you couldn't get a list of alums now working in not-for-profits, most of whom would be happy to talk to you about what they do (i.e. informational interview).

    re: the Boston/NY thing- agree with the poster above, life is full of trade-offs. If you've made peace with working as a receptionist in Boston as being preferable to being in a policy type role in NY- than go in peace. If not- something to revisit with your BF. In general, you will find that taking an admin type role in an organization you'd love to work for is a smart career move- you will know who is hiring, you will know the organization and its issues, you will already be on the payroll. So don't dismiss the notion of getting your foot in the door first, even if you're answering phones.

    There are a lot of think tanks and policy organizations in Boston. Have you made a big list yet? It will surprise you.

    Have you emailed your professors (not all of them, just ones you had a relationship with of some sort) to let them know you are looking for a job? Some professors spend the summer at the beach writing a book. Some are on campus. Some are speaking at symposia or attending conferences around the world, teamed up with leaders of all sorts of organizations. Their networks are bigger than yours- so tap into them.

    And for sure go back to the people you've worked for! They know you- they will be the best source of leads. Good luck to you!
    · Reply · Share
  • MarianMarian 13230 replies83 threads Senior Member
    That said, my degree is in the social sciences and my average just under a B+, but I don't apply for anything that asks for grades or transcripts.

    This may be too limiting. Your grades likely are high enough for some of the jobs that require grades or transcripts.

    Also, if you decide that living apart from your boyfriend is a possibility, try Washington, DC. There are a lot of nonprofits here that employ people with social sciences backgrounds.

    Also, and this is just an opinion -- which some people may disagree with: If you're applying for jobs that don't require as much education as you have (such as a receptionist job), it might not hurt to mention in your cover letter that you want to work in Boston because your boyfriend lives there (or you could cite vaguer "family reasons"). I have seen supervisors at places where I've worked going through cover letters and resumes and saying things like "This person would be great, but she won't stay here. With her background, she'll be able to get a better job somewhere else soon." Saying that you are committed to a particular geographic area might help to dispel the idea that you might quit the job within the first few months.
    · Reply · Share
  • MycroftMycroft 95 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Find out which temp agencies are used by the companies you wish to work with; also look at local colleges and see if they are hiring temps. Register with the temp agencies and be flexible. It's good to get out and about, to try new jobs, meet new people and not have to take it too seriously. Sometimes it's better to volunteer or try temp jobs to get out in the workplace and stay busy. When I married and moved to another city, I went to an agency and said I'd like to work on the campus of the local university, or the big employers in town. I did some temping, got some good experience, and then transitioned to a large company where I've been employed for many years. The temp experience was good for me and got me out and about, learning about the city I was now living in, meeting people and laughing again. Just this past year, we hired a temp to work in my group; that young man just got offered a position. Had he not registered, taken the temp job, we would not have connected. If you don't want to 'temp', consider doing volunteer work for the connections, and to keep you thinking positive.
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity