Category Archives: Public Administration

Job Searching 101: Tips to finding your first job!

As someone who is graduating (round two, but for real this time!) in May, the job search has been in full swing for me for the past month or so. Here’s what I’ve learned: the job search is scary. Especially for us ‘PR people’ who are planners. We don’t like not knowing what we’re having for lunch today, much less where we’ll be in two months.

A couple weeks ago, I attended the OU Alumni Association’s first annual DC Networking Week with fellow MPA Crescent Gallagher (he did a great post about job searching, check it out here!). The trip was highly informative and gave some great perspective on job searching, from where to begin to the questions to ask once you’ve gotten the offer:

1. Decide where you want to be. Your search will be MUCH easier if it’s narrowed down to 2-3 cities. But do your research. Utilize your network and talk to people who work in and out of your field in the cities you are potentially interested in. What’s it like to live there? What’s the job market like? Rent, salary and cost of living expectations are important to know but it’s also important to know what it’s like to live there, especially if you’re young!

2. Utilize your networks. Because of my previous internship and work experiences, when I went to DC I was able to set up informational interviews through previous employers. No, they weren’t formal job interviews, but informational interviews are just as important. Not only are you getting your name out there for when a job may be available in the future, but you’re expanding your network and gaining knowledge about your industry and the job market (utilizing my networks led me to some awesome job listing websites that REALLY helped me). Even if you’re just meeting for a friendly coffee, getting your name out there, and doing it early on, is important.

In addition to utilizing your networks, it’s important to stay in touch with previous employers. Whether it be grabbing coffee or stopping by to visit the office when you’re in the area, or volunteering to do some ‘freelance’ work for free after your internship is over, it’s important to stay on the radar.

3. Get your social media in line. It should be a no-brainer, but make sure your Facebook and Twitter accounts are not only clean (Read: ‘something you would be ok with your grandmother reading’) but also reflect your personality and show your knowledge and insight of the industry(ies) that you’re job-searching in.

So you got an interview… now what?

4. Do your research. I have made the mistake of not doing enough research going into an interview, and when asked questions about the org/company I didn’t feel I knew enough. So, do your research! While you’re not expected to know everything, you should demonstrate that you’ve done your homework.

5. Make sure to ask questions. It looks bad if you don’ ask questions in an interview, even if you’re not sold on the company you’re interviewing with. Asking your interviewers what their day-to-day responsibilities are, favorite aspects of their job, or how you will be able to grow if you work there are all great questions of your potential employer.

Hopefully, if you take these steps, jobs searching won’t be too stressful. What are your job-search tips?

Work-Life Balance as a Young Professional

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how difficult the work-life balance of a young professional can be. When we are in college, we have a much more flexible schedule, which means we have more opportunities to make time to do whatever it is we want to do. Then comes graduation and our first ‘real’ job immediately following (or so we hope).

While I understand that not all professions are as time-constraining as others, the majority of the fields I’ve worked in require more than the average 40 hours per week, and quite often, when you’re in an entry-level position, you’re ‘expected’ to work more than that.

The fact is, as young professionals, now is the time do dedicate a huge chunk of your time to work. Most of us don’t have children, spouses, or even boyfriends/girlfriends. This is the point in our lives when we can put in the extra time to get ahead in our careers so that we can (hopefully) have more time later in life when we get to the point where we want to have a family. This doesn’t mean you should dedicate 100 percent of your time to your job, but sucking it up and putting in that extra time will pay off. Some ways I manage to maintain a ‘good’ balance (though it’s different for everyone) are as follows:

  • Prioritize. Remember that spending time with friends and family is not only important for your mental health, but can be inspirational, too.
  • Be realistic. Don’t put too many things on your plate at once. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, say something! Don’t let things pile up until you can’t handle them anymore. This is more disastrous than if you had said something in the beginning.
  • Schedule social media posts. If you’re someone (like me) who blogs and maintains Twitter/Facebook, etc. scheduling posts is a good idea, because it lifts the burden off your shoulders for a while.
  • Be extremely organized. If you make lists of the things you want/need to get done, it will be much easier to stay on task. Keep a calendar too, with work and outside of work events or tasks, that way you can manage both, AND won’t overcommit yourself.
  • Know how to recharge. Listen to yourself. Are you someone who can work their ass off for several months then take a vacation? Or are you someone who needs an hour or so a night to regroup? Find out what works for you so you don’ get burnt out.

Truth.

Other professionals – please share your thoughts and tips!

A Balancing Act

As a graduate student who went straight from undergrad to working on my master’s degree, while staying at the same school, I am in a somewhat unique position. While my schedule and location of my classes have changed significantly, I am fortunate that I stayed in the same environment thus allowing me if I desire to remain a part of the extracurricular activities I was involved in during undergrad.

While I am no longer involved in the organizations that pertained to my undergraduate major (public relations), I do still compete with the synchronized skating team and still coach figure skating to local kids. Both of these activities were very manageable during fall quarter, as it is not competition season. Yes, I had to put in longer hours when it came to schoolwork, but it was nothing I wasn’t used to.

Then came winter quarter.

Skating kicked into high gear from week one of the quarter, and I became increasingly more stressed. Not only are we out of town multiple weekends of the quarter, but I have work for my GA and practicum, classes and work from my internship at home as well. Another issue that cropped up, was that pretty much everyone on the skating team is in undergrad, and doesn’t fully understand that while I’m still at the school as I was last year, my experience this year is very different.

The lesson I learned from all of this is that being a graduate student and being involved in extracurricular activities (particularly those that are better fit for undergraduate students) is a balancing act, but it can be done. Prioritizing is crucial.

In the last few days, I seem to have finally gotten into a routine and have begun successfully balancing what seems like a zillion activities. The moral of this story? Graduate school is very different from undergrad, and treating it like undergrad often doesn’t work. However, it is possible to hold on to some of the remnants of those activities if you’re willing to put in some extra time.

I'm keeping this in mind this quarter!