Check out the first article in our new Alumni Guest Post series–a series of posts written by young alumni about life after Holy Cross! First up–Christine Giamattei ’10 on her transition from Holy Cross to the real world.
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When I graduated from Holy Cross in May 2010, I had a lot to look forward to.
A day before my friends and I left to celebrate the end of senior year on the Cape, I interviewed for an assistant job at a top advertising agency – what I thought was my dream job – and got the job on the spot.
What’s more, the job was in New York City, the one place I wanted to live and work after graduation. I had spent summers 2008 and 2009 interning there and, to my surprise, fell in love.
During second semester of senior year, I did everything I could to get back there. I perfected my resume, visited the Career Planning Office almost every day, e-mailed with Holy Cross alumni who worked in Marketing, Advertising, Communications, or Public Relations, wrote cover letter after cover letter, signed up for every social media site to market myself, stalked particular companies’ websites, blogs and Twitter accounts, read up on industry trends and even spent an entire family vacation preparing for a phone interview.
There was a time when I thought that nothing I had done was going to pan out and that I was the only one without a plan.
I was patient, waiting for something good to click for me.
When it did, I was ecstatic. Of course I was going to accept the offer to work at a company that could lead to great opportunities and to live in the city I loved. I knew I wouldn’t be making a lot of money, but I never thought twice about making it work financially.
I found an ideal 4-month sublet and moved down to New York City two weeks after graduation and started my job a day after.
At first, things went well. I was drawing up expense reports, maintaining my boss’s calendar, making photocopies, putting together binders – very much administrative work. It was humbling, and I didn’t mind it – I have always known I’d have to “pay my dues.” I worked with a wonderful group of people who were also recent college graduates, so the environment was fun, social and supportive. I worked hard and give it all I had.
However, I was not prepared for the bad relationship that would soon develop between my boss and me. As the administrative assistant, it was all too easy to get blamed for things that went wrong – and unfortunately, once my boss decided she didn’t like me, it was as simple as that and went downhill from there.
I never thought I’d be someone who didn’t get along with their boss, or anyone else for that matter. I love people and I’m a team player. If I stayed there, I knew my boss would make my life miserable or block me from further opportunities at the company or even fire me.
When I received an e-mail from my supervisor at my internship from the prior summer, asking if I would interview for an open position, I jumped at the chance. I had had a successful internship there and could imagine picking up right where I had left off.
I interviewed, got the offer and accepted right away. I had been earning overtime at my first job, so the salary was actually much less.
Again, I thought I’d be able to make it all work.
Right around the time I switched jobs in October 2010, I moved out of my 4-month sublet, signed a lease with one of my Holy Cross roommates and moved into a very tiny apartment on the Upper East Side. The rent was within our budget and the most bang for our buck, as far as safe areas of New York City go. The neighborhood was wonderful and I loved everything about living with a best friend and being a mile away from Central Park.
However, a few months later, I realized that I did not like my job and was not happy with my financial situation.
Very long story short from the past year: It was a good job, but it was not for me. I also never got the feeling that I had a good work-to-life balance. With more than an hour commute each way, I was always stressed out about rushing to and from work. I felt guilty that I wasn’t staying super late every night, even though I would get all of my work done and met my deadlines. I thrive on the “life” part of that balance too.
On top of being unsatisfied there, I was making very little money for the amount of work I was doing and saving none of it.
Along with rent payments each month, there were also payments to be made for my Metro card, laundry and groceries. I did a pretty good job of making ends meet and cutting out basic things like a gym membership and cable, but I was unhappy with that struggle.
This past summer, my roommate and I frequently discussed renewing our lease. For me, it was a tough decision – months and months of weighing the pros and cons. When it finally came time to decide if I would renew the lease, I realized that signing on for another year of these struggles was something I could not do.
It may have been an unconventional career move without another job lined up, but I decided to leave my job and move home. I am interviewing now, and have faith that the right opportunity will come along for me–I’m excited and feeling positive about that!
I’d love to leave you with some things to think about as you apply for jobs or secure plans for after graduation–some things I wish someone had told me when I was still in college.
–It is perfectly OK to graduate without a job or without a plan.
Since I first began working (and not loving my job), I wished someone had told me this. During senior year, jobs and after-graduation plans were hot commodities and everyone seemed competitive about them. I like to akin it to an arms race. Do not get defeated if you do not secure a job right away. The right opportunity will come your way–and the time off after graduation will allow you to think about what you really want to do.
–Do not regret the decisions you do make.
Of course, I still wonder what would have happened if I graduated without a job and moved home. I wonder if I would have had time to think about what I really wanted to do or to save money to pursue other opportunities. However, I definitely do not regret accepting the initial job offer and the past year and a half I spent living and working in New York City. I’ve learned a lot, especially about myself and the kind of career I want.
You’ve most likely heard about the importance of networking, but I will reiterate that it is as indispensable as a good GPA on your resume and the internships under your belt. I got set up with both jobs I’ve had though Holy Cross alumni. Event if it is just to start a conversation or to look for advice, send e-mails to alums! Beyond networking, do everything you can to be the ideal candidate in whatever industry you are interested in. For me, that meant launching my running and healthy living blog to show my writing skills and interest in fitness, social media and communications. Also, never think that you “won’t” get something. There are jobs out there and positions to be filled–so always take the chance and apply!
—Spend time to think about what you really want to do.
Brainstorm about positions and career paths. Figure out what you are good at and are passionate about. Listen to people, ask questions and make lists of pro’s and con’s. Don’t think that you have to go into a particular industry just because you had a similar internship. Consider opportunities like graduate school and teaching fellowships.
—Consider your finances.
Unfortunately, promising yourself that you will make it work is not enough. Things always end up costing more than you initially figure. Now I am way more realistic about what I can and cannot afford than when I first graduated. Know that it is okay to pass on opportunities and invitations and that saving money is a good ting. Considering your finances may be the hardest thing you’ll have to do after graduated, but it is also the smartest and most mature.
—Enjoy your life to the fullest.
Life does go on after graduation and I promise you, you’ll enjoy it! Keep in touch with Holy Cross friends, make new friends at work and in your city, pursue a hobby, challenge yourself with some task. Though I have not had the best experiences with jobs so far, I am very happy with my life outside of work and who I’ve become.
I hope my story and experiences in the year and a half that has passed since I graduated from Holy Cross have helped you in some way.
Please let me know if you have any questions for me. I can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.