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From the Classroom to the Workplace: Recent Alum Shares Job-hunting Tips

By Audrey Kelly

With graduation on the horizon, most students’ thoughts turn to the dreaded job search. How do you find a job? How do you gain relevant experience? Luckily for writing majors, communication is a key element in every field. Good communicators will always be needed in the workplace. Still, a little advice goes a long way in combating post-grad fears and job search dread. On February 28th, Hannah Kelly, a 2021 writing major and digital studies and Spanish minor graduate, participated in a fireside chat with OPW to share her insights for a successful job search.

Hannah currently works as a Communications and Development Specialist at Catherine’s Health Center, a nonprofit, federally qualified health center that seeks to improve healthcare access in the community. She started this position right after graduation. Her responsibilities go from developing multimodal content for social media to designing and editing organizational and patient forms. During our chat, Hannah noted that one of her favorite aspects of the position is using her position to make doctor forms more accessible and inclusive to serve more users. Hannah said, “I think that it’s been really exciting to both help with that health communication and education and to also make it [patient forms] a little less stressful hopefully.”

Photo Credit: Hannah Kelly

In addition to describing what her position entails, Hannah gave us great tips for making the job search less stressful.  The process of job hunting can be difficult and full of uncertainty. The sense of urgency and this idea that everyone else has a job already lined up can be paralyzing. Of course, the fear of rejection does not help. Hannah’s number one suggestion to combat the disappointment of rejections is to be patient and not compare your journey to someone else’s. 

Understanding the application process also makes applying for jobs less stressful. Hannah emphasized two main elements. First, make sure to look in the right place for job postings. Many postings are located on Indeed because employers can list jobs there for cheaper than on other platforms. Second, be aware that many writing positions require an aptitude quiz as part of the application, although requirements vary between jobs and companies. This may include demonstrating skills such as design or grammar in a timed test. She also noted that applications often included a cover letter and resume, followed by a phone interview and, often, a Zoom interview. Some companies may ask you to design materials and justify your design decisions in the interview. Although the application process may seem daunting, being prepared for each step will help tremendously. 

How do you gain experience to put on a resume or talk about in an interview? Hannah took as many writing and digital studies classes as she could to build her skills and learn how to communicate through a variety of formats, such as memos and infographics. Most importantly, she remarked that being the “yes person” helped her growth tremendously, meaning she could say “yes” to doing any task or project because she was confident in her skills. Although classes can provide great experiences, Hannah emphasized the importance of extracurricular activities. In addition to her involvement in several clubs, she also interned for GVSU Human Resources doing social media and design projects. Additionally, she served as a Lead Consultant at the Writing Center. Hannah suggested discovering your passions by getting involved in something you’re excited to try; cast your net wide and see what interests you. Extracurriculars also help build relationships and a network of experiences and skills that are invaluable in the workplace. Involvement in classes and activities also develops the ability to organize and prioritize tasks, which is essential to balancing company mission goals with day-to-day tasks. 

Seeking experiences in and out of the classroom and then searching and applying for jobs can be understandably stressful. As someone on the other side of the process, Hannah provided three key pieces of advice and inspiration to those aspiring writers beginning the process:

  1. Find a cause or interest for yourself or others and write for it
  2. Life is too short to do a job that doesn’t interest you or bring you joy
  3. Be patient and know your worth—it will take time to learn the craft 

Life after graduation is one of the greatest unknowns to many, and the job search can be equally terrifying on top of building the skills and resume to even apply. The good thing is, writers will exist as long as there’s writing. In a world where communication and storytelling are becoming increasingly prevalent, the future for writers is bright. Although the job search was overwhelming at times, Hannah noted that it “wasn’t anything I wasn’t prepared for.”

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