The Job Hunt and the Power of Face-to-Face Engagement
I’m a happy person. I like making others happy people, too.
I think that’s why I especially enjoy my job as an event planner.*
Most events are celebrations like weddings and birthdays. Even corporate lunches can be fulfilling because I like helping people and pretending like I’m in charge.
(*Technically my title is Director of Catering, which is ironic since I’m just a fledgling foodie.)
But how did I get here?
Well, I got my degree in Public Relations nearly two years ago. I loved the wide expanse of interests that major let me pursue and love. Communication, religion, recycling, management, what it means to be a woman in business –these are all things that fire me up. Event planning was the interest that caught hold of my attention and has yet to let go.
Six months before I graduated, my high school sweetheart asked me to be his forever. Joyfully I said yes. Two months before that, he had accepted a job offer in Louisiana after consulting me (thanks, honey!). So our “where” was decided based on his job offer. But I was okay with that because a) he took a job in an urban area so I could find a job, too and b) my degree is more portable than his.
And so the job hunt began.
Trying to land an interview—let alone a job—from 12 hours away felt impossible. I sent my resume to a few promising leads—one even sounded like it had been written about me. From my hometown I established connections through professional organizations and my sorority.
With less than one month to go before our wedding, I moved to Louisiana with the goal of landing a job before the wedding. I’d learned about a local PR association and that its meetings were the first Thursday of the month. That meeting was the reason I moved when I did.
Nothing can replace face-to-face engagement when you are on the job hunt. At that meeting I met one of the ladies I had been emailing, and I introduced myself to the group she was talking with. I gave my resume to a few who said they might know of openings for me. I left the meeting feeling good but the only immediate lead was in ad sales for the local newspaper—not exactly promising.
Two hours later I got a call from a woman named Jennifer. She hadn’t been at the meeting but someone who had taken my resume said that she needed to give me a call. She had a position open for the Director of Catering. I was skeptical at the job title but flattered and astonished that someone had passed along my resume and results came so promptly. As she described the position, I thought, I could do that. We set up a meeting for the following Monday.
In preparation for my first “job after college” interview, all I could do was gather the relevant work I had done in college and plan how I could frame positive, negative and even irrelevant internships so this potential employer would give me the chance to prove myself. [Side note: an infuriating number of jobs want someone with 2-3 years experience. Few companies seemed willing to hire someone who still needed to cut teeth in the real world.]
Thank God, the interview went well and I got called back to come in two days later to meet the other members of the management team. That went well, too. It was then that I realized that my job required clear communication to the whole 26-person staff. Click. I really could do this. They had a great system in place and—even better—my boss was the one leaving the position I had to fill—an automatic mentor and resource.
The final piece of the puzzle was to get the board to approve a salary and for me to agree. I talked target salary and strategy with my dad during that damned waiting period. Thankfully when I walked into Jennifer’s office for the third meeting, she offered the amount I had hoped for with reasonable benefits and room for promotion. Hallelujah! I agreed and I was employed! I was no longer a stay at home fiancé draining my man’s bank account. I could contribute to my home and a well-respected business. Hazzah!
The job hunt can be grueling and at times soul crushing. Know that you’re not alone in your struggle.
Reach out and appreciate those bosses and mentors who take a chance on you. Those people are the heroes in your story.
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]
A Tennessee native, Katie Bursley is bewildered transplant to Louisiana. She graduated Belmont University in 2013 with a degree in Public Relations. She now works for the Petroleum Club of Shreveport as the Director of Catering. Katie loves working with clients to create memorable events and has a passion for learning more about the art of management. Whenever time and work allow, Katie loves exploring new places with her husband, Robby, writing to untangle in her thoughts and cuddling with their one-year-old pup named Laurenza and newest pup addition, Mikey.