My name is Amber Morrison, and I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing in 2014.
The last five weeks of my senior year, rather than stressing about exams and final projects, I worried about a job. I had been to my campus’ career center, which helped tremendously in landing an internship, but it was unpaid. I was gaining real-world copywriting experience, but I couldn’t pay the bills. I wasn’t sure what to apply for, since my creative writing background only highlighted the need to practice writing prose, so I applied for a job at a frozen yogurt shop.
The interview started off well, and the owner of the shop liked everything I did in terms of analyzing the cleanliness of his store and how I presented myself to customers in hypothetical scenarios. However, when I said I would be earning my Bachelor’s in a few weeks, he asked me why I had applied for his job as a frozen yogurt server. At the time, I thought it was just a typical question, until he never emailed me back. I realized I sold myself, my education, and my skills short, and that’s probably what he thought too.
1) Don’t Sell Yourself Short
You earned great skills in your college career, and you should know how to make those sound amazing. Did you give a few dozen presentations in your classes? Your resume should reflect it, highlighting your excellent organization, communication, and speaking skills. Companies like someone who can speak to a crowd without saying “um” or “like, yah” every two seconds.
If you’re from the liberal arts field like me, play up to all your skills. I was trained in creative prose, but now I work as a senior copywriter, a blogger, and an academic writing tutor. Expand the skills you have, because every talent you have is what that employer needs (or you can convince them they need it in your interview).
2) Think Outside the Box
I didn’t want to apply for more retail jobs because I had plenty of working experience. I needed the writing ones. I applied for a tutoring job at the community college and have been there since I graduated. My internship turned into a paid opportunity where I write advertisement pieces on sneakers (no, seriously, I write about shoes all day). I started a blog on dystopian novels and have found other sites about freelance work I can do while I still focus on completing my manuscript.
My dream career is to be a well-established novelist, but in the meantime, my dream jobs all contain writing, and that’s what I’m doing. You don’t have to graduate and immediately jump into the career you’ve been wanting, and the truth is, most students don’t. I networked in college, like everyone tells you to do, but writers who don’t specialize in journalism are hard to come by. I let my writing speak for itself, as all writers eventually must do, and I’m expanding my skills because I’m taking jobs that want a little more non-fiction that fiction.
Two points may not look like a lot, but it’s what you do with them that will change how you perceive your degree. Most writers take teaching jobs early in their career, which makes sense because I’m now a tutor, the goal is to not let that stepping stone be your platform. If you want to write the next great novel, keep writing. If you want to own your business, don’t stop at that managerial position just because it’s comfortable. If you want to continue your education in architecture, don’t let this latest job derail you because the money is good.
Money may be good now, but you have to make sure the steps you take will keep you happy with your career in the future.