Location, location, location. The age-old cliché has come to hold significant meaning in my career journey. Coming from a small town in Minnesota, I’ve long known that my heart and life belonged in San Francisco. Throughout my young adulthood, I grew to realize that the location of my first job was of the utmost importance to me. While riding the roller coaster of emotions that is a job search, it was the draw to the Bay Area that kept pushing me forward, even after what felt like endless rejections.
For some people, permanently moving before securing an interview or a job offer is realistic, but for me, this simply wasn’t an option so soon after my college graduation. Even though numerous people expressed to me that I needed to physically be in San Francisco to land a job, I didn’t feel like I had the means to take that chance. So, I stuck to what seemed to be the tough route — finding and landing a job across the country — which inspired me to work harder.
Staying persistent is ultimately how I came to accept my San Francisco dream job, all from my living room in the Midwest. After years of developing my network, months of phone and video interviews, and two all-expense paid interviews in Seattle and Ann Arbor, I bravely made the trip to the Bay Area to go after what I had been working towards.
But before I stepped on the plane, I had to put in the work. These were the three keys to my success in finding and landing my dream job across the country:
The process of finding and securing a job in another city (or state) takes an extraordinary amount of time, and I wish I had begun even earlier than I did. Starting early doesn’t mean a few months before graduation. It meant working towards my goal throughout my entire time as an undergrad. While still on campus, I did as much as I could to get a head start. I joined organizations of professional and personal interests, developed my individual story, took part in several informational interviews and video chats, and identified companies that matched my interests. I also persistently checked for job postings on company websites, as well as on Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn.
For recent graduates, the job market is exceptionally competitive due to our lack of professional experience. Internships, part-time jobs and volunteering are all relevant and extremely important aspects of starting the process early. These efforts provide additional insight into the real world, while creating opportunities to meet people and enjoy exposure to existing options.
For me, starting early allowed me to prove and demonstrate my genuine desire to make my dreams come true. I was able to implement the advice I received, and process what was truly important to me. It also provided me with the time to build up the fearlessness that ultimately led me to my current role.
Looking back, establishing relationships was vital in my journey. I attended a program for Marketing EDGE a couple of years ago, where I learned just how essential a reliable network is. Over time, I realized that I needed to be as creative as I possibly could in hopes of making myself stand out.
What did I do?
I utilized social media and courageously engaged with recruiters, companies, professionals, venture capitalists, and local organizations in the Bay Area (thank you LinkedIn.) While yes, many of my outreach emails went unanswered, the responses I did get were exceptionally valuable. My job search certainly would not have had the same outcome without them.
But it isn’t about simply virtually connecting, it’s about building a strong rapport, identifying common ground, following up, and staying digitally present. I fearlessly reached out to people I was interested in learning from, or who worked for a company I admired. I sent personalized messages, and crossed my fingers that they would be willing to talk with me further. I contacted VPs, directors, professionals that were featured on my beloved websites, and people who already held my dream role.
Ultimately, many of these messages were answered and several even offered to submit referrals on my behalf or connect me further. While I never expected the referrals, I was grateful for the advice, guidance, and support I received. Growing my professional network taught me to stay humble and always appreciative. I am genuinely grateful for the people I have met throughout this process, and I can’t wait to pay it forward.
Enjoy The Process
I can’t deny the emotional exhaustion that came with the ups and downs of the entire job search process. I learned an immense amount about myself, both professionally and personally. I realized what is sincerely important to me, what motivates me, who supports me, and how I can cope with failure.
For me, the rejections were numerous. I want you to know: The first “You aren't the right fit for us” hurts, but it gets easier. I didn’t dwell on each denial. Instead, I remained optimistic and realized that it wasn’t meant to be. The letdowns became lessons.
It would have been easy to take the comfortable way out and stay within the confines of home. I avoided giving up on my dream by never allowing myself to settle for anything else. I never allowed myself to apply to jobs in the Midwest. I confidently communicated what I wanted, and I spent time dreaming of the possibilities that were ahead of me.
In the midst of disappointments, I made sure to create new opportunities to be excited about. Optimism and passion will outweigh any negatives if you refuse to let it get you down. Keeping myself engaged and positive let me learn along the way, and ultimately come to enjoy the roller coaster.
I won’t sugarcoat or romanticize the experience of job-hunting. Before embarking on the cross-country job search journey, I think everyone needs to know: looking for a full-time job is a full-time job. Be prepared to completely invest in yourself; allocate your every minute, respond to emails in a timely manner, and be remarkably persistent. Opportunities arise in the most unusual ways, and I learned that you never know what can come from stepping out of your comfort zone.
I wholeheartedly believe that my commitment to and persistence toward making my dreams come true, is how I made it all a reality.
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