Being first can be hard. As a first-generation college student, I dreamed of going to college for so long that it took a long time to adjust once I was finally there. Over time, I found my place at BC–by switching from pre-med to Lynch, getting involved with student leadership and student government, and making a great group of friends. Somewhere along the way, I finally figured out my own answers to those “three key questions” everyone always talks about, and found an immensely fulfilling career. However, getting here was its own challenge. When the time came for me to start applying for jobs, I again felt unprepared as I hadn’t seen anyone before me go through that process. By navigating that unfamiliar world, I discovered some important tools that made the journey a little easier, and I’m excited to share those with you.
Find mentors that you admire. I don’t know how I would have made it through the job application process without having some incredible people in my corner who I could go to for advice on what jobs to apply to and how to develop my resume and cover letter. Whether it’s your supervisor at work, an advisor for a club you’re a part of, or even your former Appa TL who graduated a few years ago, there are people out there who are already where you want to be! Every industry is different, so having people you admire who can give you advice specific to your field is invaluable. (If you’re stuck on how to find people like this, check out the Career Center’s new alumni networking tool, Eagle Exchange).
Informational interviews are your friend.I won’t lie—I’ve always been intimidated by networking. Nevertheless, there is something really special about talking to seasoned professionals in my field that have a wealth of wisdom to share. That’s exactly how you should view an informational interview: as an opportunity to learn more about an industry you’re passionate about. When I planned a trip to visit Colorado over Spring Break, I set up as many informational interviews as I could. If you’re lucky, these might lead to a job someday, but you should never go in with that expectation. Instead, try to learn as much as you can to build long-lasting connections. Now that I’m settled, I made sure to send a quick update to all the folks who shared their time with me back in March, and I’ve gained some more great mentors here because of it.
Be open-minded. If there’s anything I learned as I was going through this process, it was how to handle rejection. Three months later and I’m still getting those dreaded emails! However, the more people said “no,” the more I expanded my search to include things that I hadn’t yet considered. Through that, I ended up in a position that’s by all means perfect. You’ll never know what opportunities will come your way if you don’t let them.
Remember your worth. Although the going can get tough, do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and prioritize your mental health. Give yourself the space to mourn the rejections and celebrate the victories, but remember that neither decision impacts your worth as a person. Just by being first, you are forging a path where no one has gone before you—and you’re stronger because of it. Be proud of all that you’ve accomplished, because I know it wasn’t easy.
About the Author: Natalee Deaette is a recent Boston College alumna from the Class of 2019. While at BC, she studied Applied Psychology and Human Development with a minor in Leadership in Higher Education and Community Settings. She was actively involved in the Office of Student Involvement through serving as coordinator for the Emerging Leader Program and Chief of Staff for UGBC. She now works in Boulder, Colorado at Access Opportunity, a college and career support program for low-income, high-achieving students from the Denver metro area.