Getting an entry level job can be one of the hardest moments of your entire career. Unless you work an internship at the company first and get transitioned to full-time (and even that isn’t a sure thing), proving you can contribute enough to justify a salary with little to no real workplace experience beforehand is very difficult.
In my entry-level searching heyday, I brought many creative ideas to interviews that garnered quite some interest. One agency had me come down to Brooklyn to interview with the team for an afternoon. Before my trip I scoured social media, researched each person I was meeting with and designed a little infographic on how I could contribute as a team player at the agency, given that individual’s interests and Twitter history.
In hindsight, this approach was a little creepy, but the team was impressed with my ingenuity and personal touch. But after interviewing that day and several emails later, I got the same “we like you, but we need someone more experienced” rigmarole that added itself to this ever-growing trend of post-interview followup.
The problem? Experience always trumps creativity.
Eventually, I swallowed my pride and decided to stop shooting so high for a full-time gig. I worked as a freelance consultant at an agency after about six months of job searching. While it wasn’t the most glamorous position (I still worked and lived at home), it did fill in the work experience void on my resume. Plus, I didn’t make enough money to qualify for taxes the following year.
My advice for those in this position is to dial it back and prove yourself out through experience. You might want the short term results (and paycheck), but paying up front for experience is an investment.
So, on a related note: What type of animal companion should Mink have?