Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Confessions of a Real Post Grad: Kathleen Hurley

I will be interviewing different post grads to document their journey, give advice, learn from their triumphs and mistakes and so other post grads know they aren't alone. I will be talking to those lucky few who got their dream job right after their degree or those who went in a completely different direction than they had planned.

1. Explain to readers where and when you graduated, your degree and your current job/schooling.

I graduated from Syracuse University in 2010 with a dual degree in public relations and psychology.  I am currently the Marketing and Promotions Coordinator for Athletics at Drew University, which is a small liberal arts school in New Jersey.  Prior to this, I worked for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which is the top high school football all-star game in the country.  That was my first job out of college.

2. You just described your current situation, is this where you thought you'd be as a post grad?

Syracuse's public relations program is one of the top in the country, and the majority of my friends were looking for jobs in some of the world's top agencies and firms.  I spent my whole summer going on interviews at various agencies, but I knew I wanted to work in sports and entertainment.  I had no idea that what I really wanted to do was event management and not more traditional public relations work.  I didn't realized that until I was about a year out of school.  Today, I am hoping to make a career in college athletics - which I had also not thought of until I was in it.  The great thing about my first job is that it wasn't exactly what I thought I wanted, but now I know what I thought I wanted wasn't for me.  Most of my friends are still at those same firms, and while I sometimes envy their stability, my job has taken me to really great places and I get to meet lots of interesting people.  I definitely thought I would get a job right out of school and work my way up the ladder and stay there for who knows how long.  But if I had that, I might be bored.

3. What is your dream job?

My dream job has not changed, I just didn't realize what career path I needed to be on to get there when I was an undergrad.  I want to someday plan an Olympic games.  I would also settle for the Super Bowl.

4. What is the best thing about being a post grad?

The best thing about being a post grad for me has been the life experiences.  I learned more about the career world in my first year out of school then I learned in four years of school.  I now know that the things I was taught growing up - such as that my boss will always know best and that if I keep my head down and work hard I'll get ahead, are not always true.  Experience and education are extremely important, but they don't mean as much in my field if you haven't met the right people.  This is not true for every career, but in communications it is.

5. What is the worst?

There are two difficult parts.  The first is missing college.  All of my friends from college literally moved to the west coast after graduation.  It has been rare for me to see any of them in the past two years.  I miss the awesome social life I had in college - now I work nights and weekends because I am in sports.  Also, it is really difficult knowing that I have an impressive background, but that I haven't met the right people to get the job I really want.  Unlike in school, where getting the grades got you noticed, it hasn't been enough for me in the real world.

6. What advice do you have for recent post grads?

Figure out your niche.  I knew I wanted to work in sports - but that is a huge field.  I started out after graduation working for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and got the job at Drew through a contact there.  Now I realize I'm much happier in a college atmosphere, which was not a career path I had considered.

The other thing is to use your career center as early and as often as possible.  They had to kick me out of the office I was in there so much senior year.  As a result of talking to the career center, I had a much stronger resume and cover letter than lots of other candidates.  But the number one thing is definitely networking.  Write your professors thank you notes and mail them or drop them off after finals, then add them on LinkedIn.  Make some business cards and don't be shy about handing them out!

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