On Careers

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WOAH!  I guess I was tired because after I posted breakfast, I collapsed back in bed and slept for almost FOUR HOURS.  Traveling and the stress of presentations sure takes a lot out of me, I guess!


I woke up and had some fruit.  I love just eating half of a melon.  It requires almost no prep, which is the worst part about eating melons, don’t you think?


And an hour or so later, I had lunch:


I had a whole wheat English muffin sammie with hummus and spinach:


A huge pile of roasted potatoes with ketchup.  A lot of people have recently asked about my roasting technique, so I added it to the recipes page along with a description of my favorite veggies to roast.  It’s simple but foolproof!


And steamed asparagus:


I’ve got to get some work done – since I slept away the morning, I’m a little behind – and then the Husband and I are going to the gym.


On Careers


Yesterday’s post on goal setting promoted a few e-mails and comments from people who are about to graduate college.  In this economy, I know it’s hard not to freak out about finding work, but trust me when I say that ALL graduates have a hard time dealing with the transition.


The funny thing about Healthy Tipping Point is although it’s a fitness and food blog, it also documented my personal career story for the last two years.  Some readers have been following me for a while and know the whole story (and I love you for it), but I’d thought I’d share my post-graduation career story for newer readers, too.


I graduated from University of Pittsburgh in April 2006 with a double degree in English Writing and Political Science.  I had no idea what I wanted to do at the time; my main concern was making money after being a broke college student for so long.  I actually insisted that I didn’t care what I did, as long as I made money.


I applied to a bunch of jobs before college ended, but I only interviewed at one.  When they offered me a job, I accepted immediately because I didn’t want to waste any more time looking for work, and the job seemed cool.


I started work as an Urban Planner/Technical Writer.  I was an entry-level minion who did paperwork and data sheets for the Project Managers at my company, which primarily designed master-planned communities.  Because the company was headquartered in California, I got to go to the West Coast a few times on business, which was awesome.

CA Trip Fall 2006 038

Some things about my job were GREAT.  I had an awesome boss (I liked her so much that I even invited her to my wedding) and the hours were great (40 hours, max).  So, when the Husband graduated college one year later and we decided to move to Florida, I asked the company if I could continue to work for them from home.  They said yes and I was thrilled.


However, beginning in Summer 2007, the atmosphere in my office really began to change.  The housing market was tanking, and our workload was going down with it.  We went from 45 employees to 15 in one year.  It was terrifying to go to work everyday and think, “This could be the day I get axed.”  I know I was up for being fired a few times, but I had a good reputation with the company and was always saved by my awesome boss.  Somehow, I even got a promotion (to Project Planner) and a raise.


But the job was beginning to take a toll on me.  I wasn’t working with my awesome boss as much anymore, and I had to work under someone who was… ahem… less awesome.  I felt disrespected a lot at work, and I was ALWAYS scared of being fired.  I started to make many stupid mistakes because I felt so pressured to perform well. So,  I decided that I just had to make it through my wedding (January 2009) and then I was going to quit.  I began interviewing for other jobs in the field and looking into graduate school.  But the wedding came and went, and I was still at my job.  I kept making excuses because looking for work seemed so hard.


I was careful about what I said on the blog about my job because I was afraid my boss would find it.  But it was obvious that I was stressed, unhappy, and worried about being fired.


Then… Everything changed.  I got the book deal.   I found out about the deal after 6PM, but I called into work the next morning and quit immediately.  It’s scary being my own boss, but now I have a job that I love and don’t feel stressed out about all the time.  I don’t hate Monday morning anymore. 


Obviously, you don’t have to be self-employed to love your job.  But, I made a lot of career-related mistakes while in college and immediately after.   Here’s what I’ve learned:


  • Don’t major in something just because it’s fun to study – think about how you can use the degree as a career, too.  I don’t think enough of us think of college as job preparation.


  • Actually, everyone should do internships… as many as possible.  Doing more internships would’ve helped me figure out what I wanted to do, and it would’ve also helped my resume.


  • Money is NOT the end-all-be-all.   If you think you’ll be OK in a job you hate just because you make a lot of money, you are going to regret it.  I promise.  No amount of money can make up for your soul being sucked out of you.


  • Make use of Career Services! All colleges have a Career Services department to help students write resumes, prepare for interviews, and job search.  And it’s FREE!


  • If your job sucks, look for other work and make a change.  A job isn’t forever, and it’s not worth being miserable.  Yes, I know it’s hard in this economy, but there are opportunities out there.  Even if you can’t find something right away, just looking for work will help keep you sane.


  • Everyone will have to work “just for the money” at some point.  If you hate your job but cannot move on just yet, ask for different responsibilities that you think would be more interesting or find a really fun post-office hours hobby to keep you busy (like blogging!).


And last… but not least…  Graduating and making huge life changes is hard!  I remember what a shock it was to my system, and the economy was in much better shape.  I bet a lot of soon-to-be graduates are super stressed out, but it WILL work out.  Make use of your Career Services resources and take deep breaths.  What will be, will be.


What advice do you have for upcoming graduates?  What do you wish you had known?  What was your post-graduate career path like?  If you’re about to graduate, what are your thoughts on finding a job?



  • Jessica @ How Sweet April 15, 2010, 2:57 pm

    I wish that I would have done more internships, even though I wasn’t really studying what I ended up doing! I knew I just wanted to be a personal trainer, but my dad convinced me to get a degree, which was the best thing I could have done!

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin April 15, 2010, 2:58 pm

    One piece of advice I would give is to look for staffing agencies in your area. I know in a lot of urban places they are huge (like DC, NYC) and you can temp and make 15$ per hour, give or take, while looking for a job. A lot of these places actually do permanent placements as well, so you get to try out companies before you accept permanent employment with them. I actually worked at a staffing company for 3 years before transitioning into my current job and I didn’t even know what they were when I first accepted the job there. I think they’re an awesome resource for people to keep sane while looking for a job.

    • Stina @ Girl Can April 15, 2010, 5:04 pm

      I totally agree with this. I got my current job through a staffing agency. I did my entire undergrad preparing to be a teacher only to discover I didn’t really want to teach after graduation. I had no idea what in the world I wanted to do (Heck, I still don’t really know!), but the staffing agency gave me an opportunity to try things I wouldn’t have even thought of otherwise. I don’t know if I’ll stay in the insurance industry forever, but I like the work for now.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) April 15, 2010, 3:00 pm

    see, i would definitely say major in something that you do think is fun…but make sure that you are realistic about ways to make money FROM that for the future. so if it’s photography, make sure that you would feel comfortable being your own boss, growing in the field, etc.

    i majored in something that i thought would make me a ton of money, and it could, but it’s NOT fun and i don’t love it. i took the first job i was offered with a reputable company, but found out i didn’t love it and quit. then i went immediately into another career because i thought it would be fun and make me rich, but i quit that too. i never paid attention to the things i thought were really fun and loved to do until now, and i’m 26. i would definitely say that through my blogging though i’m slowly starting to learn about what that perfect job looks like for me though!

  • Sam (My Sugar Obsession) April 15, 2010, 3:01 pm

    I just graduated this past December with a degree in history. I’m one of those students who chose her major because she loved studying it. Stupid move right? I also never did internships. I always thought I would just teach. But then last summer I realized that I don’t have the patience to teach. Teaching would ruin me (it would suck my soul out of me). So as of right now I’m working for my dad, trying to save up some money. And hopefully one day I’ll be running my own bakery – that’s the goal anyways. I wish i would have read your advice 4+ years ago. Lol.

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs April 15, 2010, 3:02 pm

    Great advice there, especially the internship stuff. I’m absolutely terrified of graduating (one more proper year), but I’m going to take a year out, then go onto postgrad – hopefully the labour market will have improved by then!!
    I never realised about all your previous job stuff – the firing fear sounds scary :s what a relief you got the book deal!! You must be so thrilled with how your life is going 🙂 inspirational!

  • Britt April 15, 2010, 3:03 pm

    I love this post! I graduated in 2006 as well and felt pressure to take the first job offered. I would add to your awesome advice not to think you have to find your “dream job” immediately. You can not even imagine the doors that will open and the strange connections that will occur just within a single year of working ANYWHERE that could open additional career doors. If you can start within your industry, you’ll get where you want to go eventually!

  • Jen April 15, 2010, 3:04 pm

    Make sure you learn how to interview well…you gotta sell yourself!

  • Bronwyn April 15, 2010, 3:05 pm

    Right now I’m in university. I won’t be graduating for at least one more year and even after that I have a year of nothing and then (potentially if I get in the program I’m trying for) an internship.

    The thing I’m struggling with is the idea of FOREVER. There’s such an emphasis on getting in program you like, you have fun in, and you’ll enjoy doing for the rest of your life. I know I like dietetics and it will be fun… but forever? Considering people work for 40+ years now, that seems like a long time.

    Also I switched majors, and I think people should be aware, if you change your mind, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t stick with a degree if you know before your done that it isn’t going to make you happy… Don’t make yourself finish something just because you said you would. Sometimes quitting is the best thing you can do.

    • Julie @savvyeats April 15, 2010, 10:58 pm

      Yes! I switched majors at the very end of my 3rd year (I had always planned on being in school for 5), and am so glad I did!

    • grace b April 15, 2010, 11:57 pm

      I agree! I think there is a LOT of pressure on college students to pick something that they want to do FOREVER. But I have seen many examples of people who have just done job after job that they enjoyed–whether they used their college degree or not. I’m a religion major and political science minor and these two programs have taught me how to think, how to write, etc. Will I become a priest? Hell no! But I’ll have the skills I need no matter what job I chose to do, whether that lasts 40+ years or two. It’s tough, but I just try to keep the mindset that I am not a slave to societal pressures, ever. Good luck Bronwyn!! I have one year left too! Gonna start looking for entry-level jobs sooner rather than later to try and secure something so I can save up money for traveling soon!

  • megan April 15, 2010, 3:05 pm

    hmm…how about if my ideal job is to be a stay at home wife and mother? 🙂 i’m willing to do anything for a few years if it gives us enough leeway for me to be able to stay home when we have kids! I guess my advice is to have a long term plan. figure out where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. if you don’t see yourself at your current job in 30 years, figure out what needs to change and do it!

  • Chloe (Naturally Frugal) April 15, 2010, 3:05 pm

    Love melon, especially with a squeeze of lemon over it.

    I would say to not stress so much about finding a job ASAP. If you can, explore your options. Decide where you want to live, make connections, and ask around. The way I got my first job was through an old family friend who referred me to a researcher. He interviewed me and loved me (obviously), but it was because of someone else’s help that I got that interview in the first place.
    That’s the best advice I have!

  • brandi April 15, 2010, 3:07 pm

    GREAT post.

    I didn’t have ANY internships, and it definitely hurt me. I got married the summer before my senior year, so everything changed with school after that.

    I had to take the first job I was offered when graduating because we needed insurance, and it’s the same job I have now!

    It sucks, basically, and I’m slowly trying to get out of it.

  • Diana April 15, 2010, 3:07 pm

    Very interesting post! I agree that internships are important. One of the problems here in Portugal nowadays is that nobody wants to pay internships (not even lunches or transportation) so people are actually PAYING to work which is just… not ok. I mean, the economy is hell right now but if people keep doing these things it won’t get better.

    • Laura April 15, 2010, 7:24 pm

      Same in the U.K- it can cost people up to £3,000!. ;( Apparently to get into business or finance etc at the moment, you have to have connections in the ‘Old boys’ network- ie either from your parents or via studying at Oxford or Cambridge. Not fair ;(

      • Evan April 15, 2010, 10:10 pm

        It’s the same way in the States. I go to NYU and have had 5 internships, 4 of which were unpaid. One of them was for 4 credits, which means a few thousand dollars were dedicated to schlepping for a publishing company three full days a week. I know that the U.S is working to regulate unpaid internships a lot more now (I’ve been through the mill with some…err….trying experiences) – hopefully it’s going to change in Europe too!

        • Julie @savvyeats April 15, 2010, 10:59 pm

          I think it totally depends on your major/field. Almost all engineering internships pay, and pay pretty well, but they are competitive!

        • Stina @ Girl Can April 16, 2010, 11:32 am

          Education majors are the ones that really get screwed in that regard. Most programs require you to student teach to get your certification, and there is no such thing as a paid student teaching gig. You pay a couple grand to work full-time doing someone else’s job while they get paid their salary plus (usually) a stipened from the university for taking on the student teacher.

  • Jordan April 15, 2010, 3:07 pm

    Love love love this entry! I’m always really interested in 20somethings and our career choices/changes. Maybe I’ll write a book. 😉

    I have a Bachelors in Marketing and an MBA. I work as a Project Manager in the Marketing department for an international flooring manufacturer. Best job I’ve ever had, BUT I want to teach high school or college. No time or money for a PhD right now. And sitting behind a desk is really getting to me.

    I do wish I hadn’t been influenced by my mom to try and choose a career that makes good money. I wasted a year on engineering and chose marketing because it seemed easy enough. Ugh.

    • Shannon April 15, 2010, 4:01 pm

      I am in a similar situation, being influenced by my parents. I was basically told that they would only pay for my tuition if I were a business major and graduated with a good job. It sounds so silly, but it didn’t even occur to me that I had a choice. Then after college I was lured into a big accounting firm that paid for my master’s, provided i worked for the firm for four years. Now I’m a successful CPA, but my heart isn’t in it. This year I’m finally free from my contract (I would’ve had to pay $80k back to my firm if I’d quit sooner), and I’m so so so excited to start grad school in the fall for Speech Pathology. I’m glad that I came to my senses and am doing what I want (not my parents), but wish I had done it back in college! In conclusion, my advice is to follow what’s in your heart, not your parents’. 🙂

      • Rachel S April 15, 2010, 6:16 pm

        Hey Shannon –

        I started college as an accounting major (mainly b/c I didn’t know what to major in, and accounting seemed stable). Luckily, I took the intro to speech pathology course my first semester in college as an elective – I fell in love with it! I am now in graduate school for speech path — and loving it! Good luck and congrats!

        • Steph April 15, 2010, 8:10 pm

          I am a speech pathologist and I love it! I started school as a pre-med student and then realized I didn’t want to give that much of myself to a career instead of a future family. I’ve worked in a hospital rehab. setting and now in an early intervention program, and I still feel that I am challenged (in a good way) every day! My only complaint now is that I would like to work full-time and can’t seem to get the hours. I’ve been looking into PRN positions in my area to supplement my main job.

          Good luck to both of you!!

        • Shannon April 16, 2010, 12:31 pm

          Good for you! If I could go back in time, I’d do the same. Good luck in grad school and your career! You are helping people, not companies, and you should feel good about yourself everyday 🙂

    • Lauren April 16, 2010, 10:00 am

      OMG! I can’t believe how many people are moving into Speech Path! When I was in school I had never heard of it, and now three people who read HTP alone have switched to it? I’m taking some post-bach prereqs and applying for Fall 2011 admissions. Holy cow! I’m glad you all love this field so much (it keeps reaffirming what I already believe about it), and Caitlin, great discussion.

      • Caitlin April 16, 2010, 10:04 am

        my BFF is a speech pathologist and loves it 🙂

    • Stina @ Girl Can April 16, 2010, 11:38 am

      Have you looked into teaching at the community college or junior college level as an adjunct (part-time)? Often they only require a masters. Depending on the state your in a high school teaching certificate might not be that difficult to obtain. There may be “fast-track” programs. The PhD probably isn’t necessary to get into teaching.

      • Jordan April 16, 2010, 1:50 pm

        I’ve applied for several instructor positions, but nothing ever came of that. I still stay in contact with some of my professors so maybe that will happen eventually.

        I have been taking graduate level courses for the past two semesters for initial licensure to teach high school history (Masters of Secondary Ed). In TN and GA you have so many hours in a particular field of study to begin teaching without a true license. You will eventually have to get licensed through a college program to continue to teach…and make a ‘real’ teacher salary. Unfortunately I have lots of history content area classes to take becaue my business degrees didn’t include anything beyond general education courses. I’ve loved my classes so far, but I have to leave work early two days a week and somehow find time to go into schools for fieldwork. Two weeks of vacation doesn’t leave enough time to relax from school and work AND use it for my fieldwork. AND I’m scared of the student loan payment I will have in the years to come! I’m really having to consider everything right now.

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! April 15, 2010, 3:07 pm

    GREAT POST & TIPS!!! =)

    I agree totally with all that you said and since I didn’t go to college (well I went but didn’t finish) I can’t answer your quesitons exactly, however I am 33 years old now and have learned a lot along the way! And, will give you my #1 advise I give everyone……..try to find a job or career that you ENJOY because if you are not happy at work it will spill over into your “outside” life and you will end up unhappy so it is at all possible try to do that even if you don’t make as much!

    P.S. I just had to tell you that lately I have noticed that your EATS have been so very healthy, lots of veggies and such, you go girl! I strive to eat as good as you! =)

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 3:08 pm

      sooo true. when i was miserable at my urban planning job, my marriage was very very rocky. not fun. all my fault.

  • Lynne April 15, 2010, 3:10 pm

    I think that it’s important to study something that you are really interested in – whether that’s because it’s fun, or something you really want to get into. But I think it’s important to balance that out by getting lots of work experience in something ‘concrete’ that will make you employable. Temping is a really good way to try out different companies / roles to see what you like, and it can also enable you to prove yourself to an employer before either side commits to a permanent contract. Great post! 🙂

  • D April 15, 2010, 3:10 pm

    love this post!

    i’m graduating university in less than two months, at 20 years old, and currently waiting to hear back after an interview for an internship. STRESSFUL.

  • brianne April 15, 2010, 3:11 pm

    everytime i see that half cantaloupe, it makes me want one, too!!

  • Carolyn @ lovinlosing April 15, 2010, 3:13 pm

    I don’t LOVE my job, but I make good money and I don’t dislike it either. The projects change so I get to do different things which helps. 🙂 As long as I’m not bored, I’m good.

  • Shannon (The Daily Balance) April 15, 2010, 3:13 pm

    great post and great tips!

    another tip — NETWORK and be nice to everyone! you never know how those connections will be able to help you down the road!

  • Sarah for Real April 15, 2010, 3:14 pm

    My advice is NOT to jump right into graduate school just because you think you will not be able to get a job right away.

    I didn’t have a strong resume and thought that Grad School was something I could do instead of job search to beef my resume. It was the easy way out at the time.

    Grad school is draining, mentally, physically, soulfully, and (most important) economically. I stopped taking classes about half way through because my heart wasn’t in it and it’s too expensive when I started not doing well.

    I will definitely jump back in later, but I’ve been working for 2 1/2 years now and I feel much better prepared.

    • Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle April 15, 2010, 3:15 pm


    • Sarah for Real April 15, 2010, 4:03 pm

      I also wanted to add that it’s important for women to recognize that ‘most’ of us are hard-wired to want stability (financial, emotional, etc) more-so than men.

      So it’s natural that women freak out a little more than men when things are unstable. I know this is my experience. I like ‘safe’ decisions. It helps to just recognize that natural tendency and see it for what it is.

      • Katya April 15, 2010, 10:28 pm

        I feel exactly the same way. I’m about to graduate from college and I’m about to move to a city that I’ve always wanted to live in–my plan is to work as a waitress or bartender for a year (or two! if I love it!) while I apply to grad school. I was trying to apply last fall and I realized that I NEED A BREAK before I plunge back into something that intense–I have absolutely no mental energy left at this point. But, I can’t help but feel unsettled that I don’t have a good “plan.” I too was planning on grad school immediately because I knew I wanted to do it eventually and I wanted to just get it over with. But now I feel like I’ll have a million times better experience if I give myself time to deprogram from school and get excited for it all over again.

        • grace b April 16, 2010, 8:40 am

          Same here! I’m a junior in college now and I know that after next year I am gonna need a breather! I’m always a little dumbfounded at the people who can go right into grad school in the fall. Definitely not for me at this time!

  • Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle April 15, 2010, 3:14 pm

    As someone who majored in something with great job prospects but that I didn’t really enjoy (I knew it since day one but stayed in the major), I would say to definitely make sure you are passionate about whatever you major in, and that it is sometimes fun. Maybe it’s not always fun but better than going into something with security if you hate it. Other than that, couldn’t agree more with your tips, especially internships to find out what you like and what’s really out there, and to use the career center!!

    For the soon-to-be-grads… everyone told me not to worry too but I did NOT listen. Instead I had nervous breakdowns. I’m now 2 yrs out of college (in grad school… where I finally figured out I need to get out of engineering!) and most of my friends that had jobs right out of school have quit and found another job, or they are currently looking. Almost no one is happy forever in their first job! So find something that sounds good but don’t stress too much!

  • Gracie (complicated day) April 15, 2010, 3:14 pm

    My advice:
    1. Choose a CAREER you are good at and can excel at. Then suck it up and study for it.
    2. Only take out student loans that your chosen career will be able to pay off. If you can’t pay for school otherwise, go part time and work more.
    3. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER burn your bridges. Even if you work with a horrible company for a mean boss, disconnect graciously: give 2 weeks notice, offer to train your replacement, send a thank you note for opportunities given, do the required HR paperwork, don’t blatantly steal clients. Leave contact information for any questions (where do we file completed spreadsheets?). Be sweet. You never know when you’ll need that connection again, and you never know who is friends with whom.
    I’ve used my “un-burned” bridges to get every job I’ve had and I always have lots of good references!

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 3:17 pm

      soooooooooooo true! i tried not to burn any bridges in this post and not say anything that people didn’t already know. LOL

      • Gracie (complicated day) April 15, 2010, 3:53 pm

        I know – what a tough line to walk, right? I’ve been in “I told you so” situations at work and you just have to seethe inside…my poor hubby gets to hear the complaints I can’t say at work!

  • Rachel April 15, 2010, 3:17 pm

    wow. this just hit home with me. I just got a job offer from a place I don’t think I want to work but the $$ is good. Just what I needed to read today!!!

    • Sara April 15, 2010, 4:18 pm

      I was just going to write the exact same thing, word for word! I feel like such an a-hole for wanting to turn down a job with good money because I know there are so many people who can’t even get one. Oh, the stress!!

  • Andrea @ Run, Eat, Date, Sleep April 15, 2010, 3:18 pm

    I don’t particularly love my job, but I love that it’s flexible, and I make enough money to enjoy life outside of work. Luckily, when I move to Florida, I get to take my job with me and work from home. I hope I’ll learn to like Mondays a little better.

    I agree about internships! I did the Walt Disney World College Program, and it looks like GOLD on my resume 🙂

  • Anna April 15, 2010, 3:18 pm

    As a current college student graduation in 1 year, I am definitely going to be coming back to read all these comments! I’ll be graduating with a degree that is NOT skills-based, unfortunately, but I’ve been lucky enough to have 3 internships thus far to build skills outside the classroom. I’m also taking as many science-based/technical classes as I can to improve the value of my education, even if they don’t count towards my major.

    That’s something else I would add to your list- don’t feel limited by your major if you’re still in school. If you have the space in your schedule, take other classes to strengthen/diversify your education and cite them/the skills on your resume.

  • Jenny April 15, 2010, 3:19 pm

    Awesome post and comments- very helpful!!

  • Erin April 15, 2010, 3:20 pm

    I have to second Sarah’s advice to not jump into more school if you can’t find a job. I’m about to graduate from law school (part of my reasoning for going was that I couldn’t find a job after college and was sick of working retail) and the anticipation of unemployment + ridiculous amounts of student loan debt is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. That being said, if there is something you know you want to do, go to school for it and find a way to make it your career, because if you’re not doing something you love, you won’t be happy. Just be realistic about the opportunities available and your prospects and be prepared to work your ass off!

  • Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle April 15, 2010, 3:21 pm

    one more thing…. start looking way early in senior year of college. Some companies hire in the fall for post-grad spring starts.

  • Sarah April 15, 2010, 3:23 pm

    If I could do undergrad over again I would definitely major in something that I liked, but knew what job I would be doing when finished. For example, a teacher goes into undergrad KNOWING they are going to be some sort of teacher if they choose that path. I majored in public relations and am STILL struggling to decide what I actually want to do, which direction to go in, what to go back to school for, etc. So my advice is to follow your heart when deciding a major, but use your head as well.

    • Emily April 15, 2010, 8:39 pm

      I was a biology and education major in college. From day one in college, I was determined to leave with a direct career path, and I thought I was going to be a teacher in a public high school. After finishing my student teaching, I realized that I wasn’t sure if traditional teaching was for me…I’m now 3 years out of college and still have not had a traditional teaching job. (I now work at an environmental education center.) It was equally frustrating to graduate from college thinking I had a direct career plan/path…and then I didn’t follow through. I too, still struggle to decide what I actually want to do.

      My advice is: a college degree itself is often more important than what that degree actually is. Choose a major in college that you really enjoy, and while in college, look for companies or careers that might use the skills you’re building in your college major. Do an internship, of any kind, and see if you like it. I think it’s more important to think of ways/places/careers that your major would relate to and build those skills. I know Spanish majors who work at car dealerships and English majors who are now real estate agents.

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) April 15, 2010, 3:28 pm

    Great post, Caitlin! Especially the part about asking for different responsibilities if you can’t get out of your current job.
    Hmm..I say don’t be afraid/too lazy (like I was) in college to change majors. Do what you want to do!

  • Kara M. April 15, 2010, 3:28 pm

    I definitely think that you should study something you find fun or interesting, as long as you recognize that you may not end up working in that field. The facts are that most people do not ended up working in the field they studied for in college and most people end up changing fields several times throughout their lives. I think that the very nature of college makes it difficult to use as job preparation – classes often don’t have much to do with practical skills you’ll need and use in the field. So, I definitely think it’s important to seek work or internships in fields you might be interested in.

    I think it’s most important to keep in mind that you probably won’t end up in your dream job right off the bat. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for it, it just means it will definitely be ok if you don’t get it. And, if you’re in a job you don’t like, you’ll be fine, it’s a great learning experience, it just takes patience!

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) April 15, 2010, 3:29 pm

    Internships are SO important — work experience trumps education almost every single time. Many colleges and majors require at least one but if that’s the minimum, aim for more. There’s always going to be someone better prepared than you — be THAT person.

    It’s frustrating. I’m job hunting now two years out of school and there is a ton of competition. Remember that even if you want to be self-employed/freelance, you might have to work part- or full-time on the side to make ends meet for a while.

    Hard work always beats laziness.

  • Kate April 15, 2010, 3:29 pm

    I wish I realized i needed to use college as a stepping stone for my career. If I had interned or taken job opportunities in my chosen field I would have learned much sooner what I was studying wasn’t for me. I also wish I used college as a time to develop my interests so when I did land in that “soul sucking job” I would have had hobbies that fulfilled me. (instead of coming home every night and parking myself in front of the tv because I wanted to block out how I was feeling.)

    To me the most important thing is to put your health/happiness before money. I wasted two years before making a change and I’m happier and mentally healthier. I still have issues to work on, but at least I can function in my day to day life. Even if you can’t leave a job, that doesn’t mean you have to give up what you want–volunteer, take classes, learn new skills, read/learn about possible jobs. That way you aren’t feeling hopeless there will be a feeling eventually things will fall into place. (But that won’t happen if you sit there and let opportunities pass you by.)

  • Laura Georgina April 15, 2010, 3:29 pm

    I really wish that I’d made use of my university’s career center (but then again, I knew what I wanted to do–the shock was when I did it and didn’t like it). So I think it’s important to make sure you have a few options in mind for what you can do with your degree, and to remember that no job needs to be forever–you can ALWAYS do something else.

    I also think it’s important to look objectively at what you want, what you’re willing to put up with, and what you absolutely will not accept in a job. I wish I’d done that sooner; it took me waaaay too long to give notice for the job that I’m winding down at now, where I’ve been treated rather unfairly and humiliated more than a few times. Money stuff is important, but personal happiness (and not driving yourself and your nearest and dearest crazy) is even more important.

  • Jessica @ Healthy Obsessions April 15, 2010, 3:30 pm

    I work at a university and the best advice that I’ve gotten (and currently give out) is to think OUTSIDE the box when it comes to careers. Some people only know of the traditional route in terms of a job (banker, lawyer, doctor, consultant). However, there are a MULTITUDE of jobs out there that require a wide variety of different majors. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t realize that there are jobs in the education field that are non-teaching! I am able to apply my love of campus life and education (without being a professor) into my everyday job and meet with new generations of students who look to me for guidance and advice.

    I do have to say that sometimes, you can major in anything you want, because some career fields require a master’s degree where students can fine tune their education into a that specific field. Some Master’s program only require a bachelor’s degree (but not in anything specific).

  • Sarah @ See Sing Live April 15, 2010, 3:32 pm

    One more thing….NETWORK! When you start to look for a job, know that you should always be networking and marketing yourself because you never know when you will come across someone who works for a company that is hiring, who owns a company that is hiring, or who knows someone who knows someone…these connections can be the best!

  • Emily April 15, 2010, 3:34 pm

    Thank you for this post! I am graduating college in…what, 3 weeks?! It’s scary. Someone told me recently that graduating college is like falling off a cliff- great!
    I’m very thankful, though. I have spent a lot of time this year applying to graduate programs and I am happy to say that I have been accepted to one that I’m super excited about! The best word I can think of for the post-graduation experience is PROCESS. It takes time and small steps. I think what a lot of us need is input from people who have through it successfully.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 3:39 pm

      haha its not like falling off a cliff… its just like jumping in the deep end. you figure out how to swim quickly!!!

  • runnerforever April 15, 2010, 3:34 pm

    I am in college so I love reading all the advice in these comments, great question. Hope you feel energized after your super duper long nap post-breakfast

  • jen trinque April 15, 2010, 3:35 pm

    Such a good topic to talk about! I had a job that I really, really hated (this was 7 years after I finished college, too) and I used to make art out of office supplies to entertain myself. I eventually sought the help of a coach to help me focus in on what I wanted, but I don’t think everybody needs that, I think everyone just needs to be brave enough to actually say out loud what they truly desire. And sometimes it’s not even a job that exists yet! I’m all about thinking outside the parameters of what a “normal” job is, though some people love regular office jobs.

    I finished college in 2001 and didn’t have a full time job by the time the terrorist attacks happened. That put a HUGE damper on getting a job in my field, so you know what I did? I quit my part time job and moved to Vermont to work for a season at a ski lodge. Best decision I ever made! Life isn’t always what we planned it to be, but that’s the fun part!

  • emptynutjar April 15, 2010, 3:35 pm

    oh god…i have 8 + years of schooling – 2 degrees…and enuf debt to last me until I’m 100 years old.
    I hate my career…it literally sucks the life and soul from me…has contributed to lots of depression…
    i am so stuck and lost now its unbelievable…i dont’ have money to train in other things…and i cannot live on a “mindless” job…its horrible
    what is worse is that i currently have to move from my apartment…and am in middle of job searching..i have less than 2 weeks to move to a location but i dont know where to go cuz i dont know where the heck the job will be…and the jobs either pay next to nothing…or they are so depressing i want to cry…i am a lost person alright..regret ever sticking with my career and schooling choices…i knew they were not “me” ..but i didnt stop. Not a good decision.

    • Carrie H April 15, 2010, 4:07 pm

      Have you looked into your community for free counseling opportunities? I know you said you don’t have any money, but it sounds like you are really struggling and I think counseling may help. Maybe one of the places where you got your degrees could help you find cheap/free counseling? Or maybe a church, local food bank, other non-profit? It might take some looking on your part to get help, but you once you get help you may not be so down! Good luck.

  • Theresa April 15, 2010, 3:35 pm

    Internships – GREAT advice. I definitely wish I had done that. The only exciting thing I did in college to help benefit my career was Model UN – our class was given a country and we represented them and specific issues for a one week conference in New York City. It was an awesome experience and I am so thankful I did it. Also, I don’t know how this helps determine a career path, but study abroad! It is a relatively cheap way to see other parts of the world, and earn a few units at the same time! It is so much harder to travel post graduation!

    Your story inspires me to find work that I am passionate about! That is why I love reading your blog, such great ideas and motivation 🙂

  • Sarah April 15, 2010, 3:39 pm

    There are a few things that my husband and I have learned along the way. One, if you don’t like your job, it’s ok to find a new one. He is an engineer and loves the work but the company he was at was not so great and it made him start to question whether he wanted to do that work anymore. I encouraged him to look elsewhere but he was convinced that he didn’t have the right skills, that the economy was too bad, that another company would be no better. Well he started at a new company last fall and he is loving it. Absolutely loving it. It took way too long for him to make the change because he was scared. But seeing how much better things are right now, he’s said that he would never put up with a bad job for so long again. It has made such a huge difference!

    Also, don’t be afraid to explore new interests. Even if you’re not the type who likes to [fill in the blank…whether it’s sports, theater, a new profession, etc]. On a whim, I started volunteering at a local native garden. Even during the training, I wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to do it but I thought it was worthwhile to finish the training at the very least. Now I am loving it! I have learned so much about gardening and I love telling other people about it as part of my new volunteer role. In college, other people were the plant people…not me. But allowing myself to get over that and try something new has helped me figure out that I, too, can be a “plant person” if it’s something I enjoy. So often we assume that if we’ve never done something, we can’t start doing it and that’s just wrong!! We might be missing out on something that we’ll enjoy and that will energize us!

  • Carrie H April 15, 2010, 3:40 pm

    This is such an interesting topic to me, particularly right now. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2006 and pretty much immediatley went to work as a reporter for my local newspaper. I LOVE the work I do (covering city government) but it was a learning process for sure (and I certainly don’t love the office politics in my newsroom — but I think every office has that).

    My husband is a second-year law student at the same university where we both got our undergraduate degrees, and we’ve talked about how an undergraduate degree really only teaches you how to LEARN, not how to perform in a specific career. Even as a journalism major, I learned more in the first year about being a journalist than the four I spent in school. I think that openness to learn on the job is crucial, and if you learn you don’t like the career path you chose, that’s fine too. You’re right, life is too short to spend 40+ hours doing something that makes you miserable.

    My BFF baby sister is graduating with a degree in math and physics in May and is totally freaked out about what to do. Really, she’ll just have to follow her heart. She has applied to join the Peace Corps and has been selected as one of a group of about 30 finalists (20 will go) for a position in Africa. She won’t find out if she’s going until June, AFTER she’s graudated. She’s veering off her “career” path from her undergrad studies, but she’s following her heart! (I can’t imagine my life without my sister nearby, but I’ll deal. That’s another story!)

    Really, my dream is to be a mom and wife. So, even if I have bad days right now being the “bread winner” in our marriage, I am thankful that my husband knows and recognizes my dreams, and is working toward his career goal, which will make my/our dreams possible.

    (I have to add — it wasn’t all always roses and sunshine. There was some time in there where things were really rocky — like, jail instead of law school, no joke. But my advice is stick with your heart!)

    Thanks for the opportunity to write, and vent. This kind of thing has been on my mind a lot very recently, as you can probably tell!

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 3:42 pm

      this was a great comment.

  • sophia April 15, 2010, 3:47 pm

    So glad you mentioned the less importance of money compared to passion. I’d rather spend the rest of my life doing something I enjoy, and cutting back on a few expenditures, than to be stuck in a depressing job, and paying thousands on therapy sessions, or health care because the stress is taking a load on my body.

    I’m a journalism major, which may not be a wise choice right now because of the changing journalism field. But for now, I love it, and the thought of being a journalist and contributing to society while doing what I’m passionate in, gives me such joy.

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow April 15, 2010, 3:48 pm

    So many incredible thoughts here! I can barely add to the already incredible advice.

    To build upon what has already been said, here are my thoughts:

    – try to experience as much as you can within your major before narrowing your field of choice. Explore every area you can get your hands on and see what it feels like! Though a job will have many ups and downs, the key is to feel fulfilled in the areas that mean most to you

    – don’t take a job just because you know you will be good at it! Take a job that challenges and excites you all at the same time!

    – try to ask thoughtful questions in an interview that will give you a clue about the working environment. Just as you are trying to impress them, they will try to impress you but see if you can get a sense of what the work culture is like.

    – if you find yourself down one path and another feels better in you…create a plan and go after it! Don’t ever ever settle!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman April 15, 2010, 3:50 pm

    I think the most important thing you can learn is to lower your expectations. At least when I graduated in 2004 people expected to get paid good money to do what they loved. But you know what? Most likely you’ll have to work long hours at a job you sorta like but might not, getting paid pennies just to get the experience to move forward. When I used to manage interns at my old job, I’d always give them a pre-graduation pep that included the following tip: Suck it up. Not to be harsh, but most people—even those really successful ones—have worked jobs they don’t quite care for in order to make it to where they are. And no job is perfect. Even if it’s in a field you love, your boss may be the devil. Or your boss may be great but your job makes you want to poke your eyeballs out with No. 2 pencils. Stick it out, put in some real hard work, prove yourself, and you’ll be experienced enough to move on to a higher-paying job.

    Of course, what you said is right: Figure our your passions before you jump at any job offering more than minimum wage.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 3:53 pm

      so true as well. i think that people who graduated when you and i did had a totally different expectations about work. the few years before i graduated, no one even kind of stressed about getting employment!

      • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman April 15, 2010, 3:56 pm

        Sad, but plenty of my friends got job offers while they were still finishing up school. Yikes, I’m sure that’s not happening now!

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers April 15, 2010, 3:52 pm

    You have NO idea how much I agree with this: “No amount of money can make up for your soul being sucked out of you.” AMEN!!
    There are 2 things about a job: 1. Does it satisfy you (life-wise) and 2. Does it make enough money for you to survive. It’s up to you to figure out how to balance those 2 things and make them work. I have a job I LOVE that makes almost no money, so I got another job to pay the bills that doesn’t do much for my soul. I’m smack dab in the middle of making that balance a little better 🙂 Sometimes you have to think outside the box!

  • PippaPatchwork April 15, 2010, 3:52 pm

    Gosh, where to begin? It really is hard finding a job, and this goes for everyone. Trust me. But REMAIN HOPEFUL. I had nothing until a week before I graduated, when I learned that I had gotten my dream job! Also, try to find the balance between being practical and passionate. A certain level of income/benefits will afford you the kind of security and peace of mind that is crucial to a happy life (it’s nice to have money to travel, buy good food, pay the rent, etc.) but be sure you have some interest in what you do. You can’t sell your sell Monday throuh Friday; that’s no way to live! Be patient, work hard, and the right job will come along.

  • JenRD April 15, 2010, 3:52 pm

    Wow, great post, and very timely! I myself have been struggling with a boss who is “less awesome” to say the least–and there are no other co-workers to vent to! I too am disrespected a lot at work, make many stupid mistakes because I felt so pressured to perform well. Every night I am on job search engines looking for new jobs, sending resumes out there. Some days I am tempted to just quit without anything lined up, but as my hubby & I are trying to get pregnant, financially I would just feel too guilty to do that, and put all the burden on my husband. Seeing this post helps though, give me some hope. 🙂

    As for my tips for new grads, I agree with everything you said. I also strongly believe in the mentor/mentee relationship. Many colleges stay in touch with alum, and can set you up with a mentor in your field, who can really give you guidance. Many professional organizations also have student memberships and local chapters(the American Dietetic Association in my case, which is great), so I would strongly encourage you go to local chapter meetings to start networking with those in your field. Every connection helps!

  • Meg @ Be Fit Be Full April 15, 2010, 3:52 pm

    What a fantastic post Caitlin! If I wasn’t at my god awful job right now I would have a heck of a lot more to say. I agree completely with your advice though. Staying at a job just for money and because it’s easy is not a good idea. After being mostly unhappy at three different jobs in almost 9 years I am finally going to take action and do something I enjoy! Not sure what the is exacly yet, but it’s not working in a office from 9-5 anymore, that’s for sure. I am actually handing in my resignation letter tomorrow!!

  • Lindsay @ cookingforaveganlover.wordpress.com April 15, 2010, 3:53 pm

    I graduated 2 years ago now with a BA in Political Science and minors in human rights and religious studies with the hopes of using these to get me a great job with a non-profit, NGO or other gov’t organization but it just didn’t happen. I was engaged when I graduated and my husband is Canadian so when he found a job in Burlington VT my home town we ended up heading back to the states and back to VT which I really didn’t plan to move back to but I guess we have to go where the work is, well where my husbands work is- he is 5 years older than me and already established in his industry. So I ended up searching and searching for jobs and found one with an insurance company and stayed for exactly 1 year 6 months and 2 days and then it was time to leave. The job was taking a real toll on my well being and I had to leave the toxic atmosphere. I was out of work for 3 months before I finally found a job. Now I have a job that I love working as an assistant to the president of the states fire fighters union and it’s amazing.

    I have to say I agree with the idea you can’t just study what is fun to study you have to think about the bigger picture because the job market is so competitive.

    For all those new graduates and job seekers it’s all about searching constantly, networking and selling yourself (not your soul). Also don’t just take a job to make money make sure that you can see yourself working for the company/organization and that they meet your needs not that you just meet theirs. If you do take a job for the money because well we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed make sure you keep looking for something else that you can see yourself enjoying.
    Don’t forget to ask questions at interviews because not only are you selling yourself you have to make sure the company is selling themselves to you as well.

    MOST IMPORTANTLY don’t get discouraged when the job search seems like it will never end. There are tons of people out there applying for the same jobs and it’s nothing personal. Take a deep breath and keep going strong because the right job for you will come along.

  • Lizzy April 15, 2010, 3:54 pm

    i really love this post! its brought up alot of topic conversation. I’m still in college right now and i almost feel like i’ll be in it for a long time. It took me a very long time to realize what i really wanted to do in life. I finally decided on a major, but yet still day to day i question if its really for me. Having these comments and this post and really opened my eyes, and to follow my heart! Thanks for everything

  • Christy April 15, 2010, 3:58 pm

    My advice is to not be afraid to do something different! I graduated 2 years ago and when I was interviewing for jobs I realized that I was not happy at all with where my career was heading. I decided to go to China for 8 months to work for my professor’s husbands company (I had also studied abroad there during college) and it was the best decision I ever made! When I came back I started applying for jobs in my chosen field (music) and three months later I found a job working for a large music company!

  • Rachel April 15, 2010, 4:01 pm

    I think about this constantly. I can’t go into detail, because the plan is not yet in motion, but I have big plans for my future. I have been out of college 6 years and worked for money the whole time. It sucks.

    My parents said ‘go to college, major in business’. I wish they would’ve given me the freedom to envision a wider variety of possibilities for my future career.

    If you are in school, THINK about what you’ll be doing when you get out. Intern. Begin saving money as soon as you can. #1 priority – save your money. Don’t think you always need a new car, new clothes, big house, or you’ll ALWAYS be working for money. I regret buying the cool car I drive now, I see it as a chain linking me to my cubicle.

    This might sound off-topic, but it isn’t. 1) Don’t depend on ‘getting married’ or ‘getting a man’. That is not a career/financial plan. 2) Use birth control, or self control. When you have children, the whole scene changes. It is not something to be careless with, or ‘surprised’ by. Of course it is up to you, but if you are not in a place in your life where you are happy with your work, now is probably not the time for kids.

    Also, I agree, you have been very creative and veggie-focused lately. I like it!

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 4:02 pm

      for a long time i thought i was just going to marry my rich ex boyfriend and not have to worry about money. AKA i was stupid. you give good advice!

      • Katya April 15, 2010, 10:32 pm

        I really, really love that you’re so honest about sharing things! Such as this! I’ve totally had so many impulses like that but NOBODY EVER WANTS TO ADMIT TO THEM, ha!

        • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 11:04 pm

          haha so true. we all dream of stupid things like that.

    • Shannon April 15, 2010, 4:06 pm

      I’m in the same boat as you with the parental pressure to major in business, and the new life plan. Good luck!

  • Maggie April 15, 2010, 4:02 pm

    I agree on the internship thing. My internship led to so many other amazing opportunities.

    Also, never be afraid to ask for what you want. I started at my current company right after college in marketing, I realized after about 6 months that marketing wasn’t for me and started to look for jobs in sales (an area I thought better suited me) elsewhere. Then a sales job at my company opened up and I talked to the sales people and eventually got it. 2 years later and I’ve been promoted twice! Unfortunately my old boss made it really uncomfortable for me, but she eventually got fired so it’s all good! 🙂

  • Karissa @ CardioFoodie April 15, 2010, 4:02 pm

    I think all of your advice is really good. I actually have followed the advice and it still is not panning out for me. I knew I wanted to go to law school from Day 1 of college, so I took an honors program that looked like it would prepare me. I have done the internship thing and am finshing my second year of law school right now. Unfortunately, I am fairly miserable and realized too late that this field probably isn’t going to make me happy (more than likely). My advice would be to find something that you enjoy doing! And take some time off if you need to! I am only 23 and got so distracted in doing what I thought I should be doing, that I didn’t take a timeout to figure out what I wanted to be doing. Don’t be afraid to do something different.

  • Sahar April 15, 2010, 4:02 pm

    I graduated from college in December with a degree in communications and political science. I applied to law school last fall, with my heart set on a certain school. I really limited my options, so when I found out that the only schools I had gotten into were my “backup” schools, I realized that I made a big mistake in not applying more broadly. I had to change my perspective, and I’ve decided getting some work experience may not be such a bad thing, and then I can apply to the schools I missed by focusing too much on one thing. I feel like I’m a little late in the game and I’ve only just now realized just how bad the economy is. My internships were all in public relations, which isn’t in the field I want to work in. It’s a little discouraging that I haven’t gotten a single callback from any of the law firms I’ve applied to but I refuse to get discouraged. I’m going to try to put myself out there and keep trying.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Caitlin. I’m so glad I can talk about this to others who can relate.

  • Lia April 15, 2010, 4:02 pm

    Thanks for writing about this Caitlin. I’m about to graduate next month and it’s pretty scary. Even during college, I’ve always had a part-time job or a summer internship, but I’ve been applying for full-time work for months now and am having no luck. It’s tough to swallow because I have a high GPA and a decent resume. I have a feeling that the things I am applying for (to which I feel qualified) are being filled by people with second degrees (who are overqualified) who were possibly laid off over the past two years. I’m trying to stay positive and trust that I’ll find something but it’s tough.

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg April 15, 2010, 4:02 pm

    The thought of graduating college freaked me out so much that I just stayed in school! I went straight from college to my masters program in creative writing, which I loved, so it was a good decision…but yeah, that’s a crazy, stressful time, no matter what.

  • Tara April 15, 2010, 4:02 pm

    I totally agree with a lot of what has been said. For those of us who may be having an especially hard time, check out the book Quarterlife Crisis, it really helps you see that this turmoil is a normal phase that our generation is going through!

    That doesn’t make it all OK but at least it’s a bit comforting.

    The most important thing is to stay open. Our whole lives in school we are on a very well defined path, only to be left floating (so often) aimlessly in the real world. As long as you stay open at listen to your heart you’ll just float on ok!

    Modest Mouse, anyone??

    • Carrie H April 15, 2010, 4:48 pm

      I love Modest Mouse! I saw them twice while I was an undergraduate. I think I’ll listen to them on my run this afternoon!

  • Shannon April 15, 2010, 4:05 pm

    Such a timely post for so many people, Caitlin! I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in May 2009, and was unemployed for just six weeks (which I didn’t enjoy nearly enough, as I was totally freaked about finding a job!).

    My biggest advice is INTERN and NETWORK. I spent three summers interning in public relations and television in New York while I was still in school, on top of working for my school’s newspaper for three years as an editor. I got my current marketing job through an old friend/colleague at the student newspaper.

    Also, practicing interviews is key! I think I come across way better on paper because I get really nervous during interviews and I’m kind of awkward. Even if you feel silly or cheesy talking about yourself to your friend, do it. You want to hit the right balance between desperate and confident, without seeming like too much of either one. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself! (I need to take my own advice.)

  • Meredith April 15, 2010, 4:08 pm

    What a great post, Caitlin. You give sound advice. I didn’t particularly like college so I picked a major and my goal was to get through it and graduate as fast as possible. Looking back, I should have picked a different major and prepared myself better for graduation and the real world. You can work in my field without a degree!

    My sister just quit a job she hated. Although she didn’t have another job lined up, we supported her because her job was literally making her depressed and stressing her out to the point where it negatively impacted the rest of her life. Making a change is scary, but so worth it.

  • Rachel April 15, 2010, 4:17 pm

    Definitely make use of the career center and attend all of the events they put on. Networking is so awkward I think, but I knew it was VITAL at finding work. My school’s career center offered an ettiquete dinner to teach you how to do well at an interview that takes place during a meal, or during work functions where you are may be at a nice restaurant. It was so enlightening!

    Plus, everything at the career center is FREE FREE FREE for you as a student and usually as an alumni. Take advantage of it!

    I graduated May of 2009 at an even worse time (I think) than now. But I found something. I actually chose to sacrifice holding out for a job that offered more money because I was afraid.

    However, I love my job so much (I’m a legal assistant for a bankrupcty attorney and a philosophy major in college so the legal stuff interests me) so I’m willing to not make as much for now.

    But it is getting tough as I have to take on more and more financial responsibilities. The budget seems to get tighter every day. Looking for a job again seems so terrifying, so I may be in the same boat as some new college grads soon if my budget gets maxed out. Hopefully I’ll get a raise instead!

  • Megan April 15, 2010, 4:20 pm

    After college, I worked so many crappy jobs with bosses that I really did not like at all. I was totally that person who spent all day on Sunday dreading going back to work on Monday. I had this idea in my head of what I wanted to do with my life and I was super depressed when I took jobs that seemed like “selling out.” Finally, I got laid off from one such job and decided to go to work in the family business. Even though having my father as a boss can sometimes be very trying, I have to admit, I love the flexibility and I get to bring my dog to work, which makes my days SO much more bearable. One day I will have the opportunity to own this company and, honestly, I still do not know if it is what I want to do with my life. But, I am finally at a point where I can accept that it is ok to not be sure. And all of those crappy jobs I worked after college have given me lots of perspective on how not to do things if I ever do become the CEO.

    The best advice I got out of college was actually from the guitar player in a band I was heavily into at the time. I was telling him how he was so lucky to have a job that must be so fulfilling creatively and how I wished that I could find something like that. His response was, “Yes, but those creative things you do fulfill you in so many more important ways.” That really put things in perspective for me.

  • Katie April 15, 2010, 4:21 pm

    The best advice I could give someone is to find something you’re passionate about doing. It’s much easier to say “This isn’t what I want to do with my life.” when you’re in a job, but it’s a lot harder to figure out what you DO want to be doing.

    Know your value. Even if you’re in a job you like and don’t intend to leave, know the market that you’re in and what your skill set is worth. This can be a good bargaining tool when/if you feel like you deserve to be making more money.

  • Allison April 15, 2010, 4:23 pm

    I definitely agree with your comment about money not being the end all, be all in life! I am a middle school teacher at a charter school: the pay is low and the hours are long. Luckily, I get a lot of positive recognition for what I do from my fellow teachers, school leadership, students, and parents. Plus, I absolutely LOVE teaching and LOVE my school!! I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t.

    I am sometimes jealous of my friends who make much more than I do, and maybe I’ll someday get burnt out on teaching and switch careers. Until then, though, we budget carefully based on the money I make. And whereas my days are long and stressful, I feel happy and satisfied every day… And that is priceless!

    • Laura April 15, 2010, 7:03 pm

      Teaching is a brilliant career, one that is just not recognised enough, both generally and in terms of pay- plus you have a (relatively) really good amount of job security- you just have to work your socks off for it. Serious respect for all the teachers out there.

  • Catherine April 15, 2010, 4:27 pm

    Before I graduated I had completed two different internships, which was lucky because my first internship in the investment banking section of Deutsche Bank made me realize I did not in fact want to work on Wall Street and I went back to school and changed my major from finance to marketing.

    I think the best advice for a new graduate is to figure out their priorities first. It’s nice to say not to focus on pay, job security, etc and follow their heart, but if you have student loan bills, will have to move and rent a new apt, etc. you need to make sure you’ll be able to handle all of your costs!

  • Rachel S April 15, 2010, 4:28 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I’m in college right now and am still deciding what I want to do with my life when I graduate in a few years. Hearing from somebody who’s “been there, done that” is so helpful!=)

  • Dynamics April 15, 2010, 4:29 pm

    Alumni! My daughter got one of her internships by using the Alumni Network from her College. They helped her tremendously and advised her on what she needed to do to get the job she wanted. After graduating, she got a job, she interned for them two summers and they loved her, and got her foot in the door. She is now doing the job she went to school for. Money is not everything is you are not happy. Start at the bottom if need be. It may not be a tremendous amount of money, but I can guarantee it is usually more than what you had in college. Once the foot is in the door of a company it is up to you to prove yourself and climb the ladder and make as many contacts in the industry as you can.

  • Rachel April 15, 2010, 4:30 pm

    I have one other comment I want to add!

    College was a big test run in helping me figure out what I definitely DON’T want to do.

    However, by the time I was nearing the end of my schooling, I finally nailed down what I wanted to do more than anything in the entire world.

    I want to be a mom. FULL TIME – at least when my children are very young. I want more than anything to take care of a family and a home and not be dragged away from it all day.

    However, realistically making this happen will require me to take in some sort of income. I can’t be totally dependent on my future husband. So my plan is to get my paralegal certificate in addition to the philosophy degree I already have, and follow my other huge passion: health/fitness. In the next few years I’m going to get my nutritionist certificate and get certified as a group exercise instructor.

    That way I can do all of those things part-time, bring in some money to the family, but be in charge of my own schedule where I can keep my family as my #1 priority.

    I hope I make this happen!

  • Shayla April 15, 2010, 4:31 pm

    Hi Caitlin! For your roasted potatoes today, about how many small single potatoes would you say you had? I’m always confused on serving sizes with potatoes.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 4:41 pm

      hmm maybe like 8 or so? not sure what a serving is either.

  • Hedda April 15, 2010, 4:34 pm

    Thank you for great advices and sharing your own experiences. That is one of the things I like the most about your blog- it is about so much more than just food and fitness.

    I am currently a student at the University of Oslo, planning on taking a degree in anthropology, with a focus on ethnicity, racism and power. I remember the reaction from my father so well when I told my parents about my plans, he was so mad because that was not “a decent degree to take for a bright girl and I would never find a job”.
    I am so happy that I followed my heart because anthropology is amazing. To make use of the Career Service is very smart- I have spoken with them about how to build my degree so that I am attractive at the job market. They also reassured me that anthropologists are very useful, pretty much like potatoes – we can be used to “everything”.

  • Amanda April 15, 2010, 4:35 pm

    Strangely enough, one of the main reasons that I picked my career was because I knew exactly where to go to find a job and I knew I would have no trouble. I graduated nursing school in May 2004. I was hired in Labor and Delivery at the hospital I work at in April of 2004 before I graduated and I’ve worked there for almost 6 years now. I’m so thankful I never really had to look for a job.

  • Nikky April 15, 2010, 4:39 pm

    THE BEST college advice I got was from a book called The Naked Roommate. It covered everything, was fun to read (the author is hilarious) and had letters and tips from college students all over. I bought a copy for both my sisters when they graduated, and all my friends. I really loved it.

  • Lauren April 15, 2010, 4:41 pm

    Love this post!! Your advice is wonderful and important for EVERYBODY. I graduate in 3 weeks (eek!) but I already have a job lined up. My college stresses the things you mentioned so much, and it is exactly why I got a job.
    1. I had an internship every summer that I wasn’t taking classes.
    2. I used the Undergrad Career Services, who helped with my resume, interview skills, and job decisions. They also set up interviews. There is no way that I would have been able to do it on my own. They helped me get 21 interviews and when I started, I was worried about getting just 1.
    3. I decided to go for a job where I will make less money over time, but I’d rather make less than be miserable.
    4. My own advice that I would add: Don’t take a job strictly because they are the “popular” choice. I DECLINED an offer from a pretty prestigious firm because I knew that the environment wasn’t for me. People thought I was NUTS for turning down the opportunity.. and maybe I am. 🙂 I just knew that I didn’t belong there.
    Once again, love the post and this is amazing advice that I think everyone should take, not just those in college.

  • Erin April 15, 2010, 4:50 pm

    I could not agree more about the internship piece of your advice. I made the same mistake in both undergrad AND grad school (apparently I’m not as quick of a learner as I thought) and now I fear that I’ll never get into the career I want.

    I will say, though, that sometimes you can’t depend entirely on your advisers or Career Services. If that’s the case you need to do your own research about what is available. Also, don’t be afraid to move! Look for jobs all over the place, not just in your college town, your hometown, or places you love. Of course, look there but look other places, too. The more flexible you are the better chance you’ll have at finding something.

  • Julia @ British Bride April 15, 2010, 4:58 pm

    Caitlin, what a fab post! Wise words indeed, and they hit home a little! Anyway, none of that here and now but once again you are very inspiring!

    Missed commenting on your last post as I have been do hard at work today but the one thing I would buy first?? A long beach holiday!!!!!!!

  • Bethany April 15, 2010, 5:13 pm

    I’m graduating in May and am freaking out a little. However, I have the same attitude as you, any job that pays me money. I just want to be able to pay rent and not have to skimp on food, like I’ve been doing for the past year.

  • Bella (Stilettos on the Streetcar) April 15, 2010, 5:18 pm

    This is a great post and very solid advice. If I could offer my younger self some career advice I’d tell me to define a life/work balance early on. I have spent far too much time in the office or looking at my blackberry. My world was work. I convinced myself that my career was worth the sacrifice of, well, everything else. I hate to say it, but looking back I was taken advantage of because I didn’t stand up for myself.

    Be a “me advocate” and insist your career doesn’t become your entire world.

  • erica April 15, 2010, 5:22 pm

    My advice would be to not feel badly if you’re graduating and still don’t know what to do with your life! I’m only 27 and on my second career. If you’re not happy, change it!

  • Ellen Collis April 15, 2010, 5:31 pm

    Internships ALLL the way! Direct work experience and the relationships you develop through them is PRICELESS. Somehow not one of my professors breathed a word about internships to me during my 4 1/2 years in college. Er…maybe I just wasn’t listening! I took a few different internships right out of school, and at 29 I’m taking another one so I can potentially make a career change. Being broke is so so stressful, but if you’re striving towards something that will truly make you happy, you can’t lose! (Right, now can someone remind me of this the next time I have a FML meltdown?!)


  • Jenn (www.j3nn.net) April 15, 2010, 5:33 pm

    I love melon, but hate seeding them. Excellent advice, think about the future more than what you like right now. Just like a lifestyle of what you eat, it’s important to choose things that you can keep up with today and 50 years from now. 🙂


  • liane April 15, 2010, 6:09 pm

    It’s funny how the blogging community works… You may be struggling with something in your life, and you take a moment to review your Google Reader and BAM… advice!

    I’ve been out of college and working for almost a decade. I’ve made the decision to pick up and move to a new city, while still working in my old city. I’ve spent the better part of the last two months overhauling my resume, writing customized cover letters and applying for a variety of jobs. I think this process is teaching me patience, as I am the most impatient person out there. When I make a decision to do something, I want it to happen NOW.

    Anyway… if the last 10 years have taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. I took an intership in college that morphed into a part time job as I finished school, allowing me to complete my schooling debt free. When I finished, I took a job based on money, since I really had no idea what I wanted to do. That job lasted almost 4 years, provided me with a wide variety of job tasks, paid for further schooling, had me involved in volunteering in the community. It also introduced me to the WORST manager I have ever had the displeasure of working with, although that manager was there for about a year of my time there)… And then, the office shut down, and I lost my job. As in, came in one morning and was met by career advisors and given 2 months severance and sent on my way. I lost my job in mid- November, just in time for the holiday lull…
    I tackled my unemployment like a job. I spent time each day reviewing job postings, meeting with career advisors, having my resume overhauled. I started my new job the DAY my severance ran out. I went to every and all interviews since they gave me an opportunity to sharpen my interview skills, and taught me the types of questions you should be asking of potential employers as well.

    Anyway, fastforward 6 years, and a few more jobs in between (that happened more by promotion, referrals and networking), and I’m back the grind of job searching and, while finding it more difficult than ever, I’ve also found that with a solid base of experience behind me, I’m much more comfortable applying for jobs that are outside my career “box”, so to speak, there is no harm in applying for jobs that you might not have all the qualifications for, as a lot of the time having the right (positive) attitude and willingness to learn new things, being adaptable, are just as, or even more, important that the degree you hold 🙂

    Ok, wow, that was a long, long comment…

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 6:49 pm

      i enjoyed reading your story and advice!

  • Jackie April 15, 2010, 6:14 pm

    I am a perfect example of someone who changed careers, rather drastically. I graduated in 2006 with a degree in music…a year after graduation I was struggling to make a living doing retail and music, I was living in NYC (which I loved) but barely scrapping by financially (which I did NOT love)….so I went back to what I liked and figured out what I wanted in a career…Nursing was the career path that kind of fell into my lap…I realized it had everything I wanted in a job/career…and I went back to school. 2 years later and many late nights of studying, I graduated with another degree, this time in Nursing. I wish I knew that I shouldn’t go into college narrow minded and “undecided” isn’t such a bad thing, because at 18….I had NO CLUE what I wanted to do with the rest of my life as much as I insisted on it.

  • Alison April 15, 2010, 6:21 pm

    I chose to get my bachelor’s in nursing because it was BOTH a money maker and something I loved. When I graduated I then decided to join the military because it was a sure thing and they paid well. (I now make 25% more than all the peers I graduated with.) I was never an outdoorsy or sporty girl – I never dreamed of joining the military but I met a recruiter who gave me all the information and really (at risk of sounding cliche) changed my life.

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter April 15, 2010, 6:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    I’m majoring in architecture and I’m so scared about the job market right now. I’m trying to get an internship, but it’s incredibly difficult.

    I’m just focusing on things that will boost my resume so when I get into the competitive job field I’ll have a better chance at getting a job.

    Thank you so much for keeping me going by sharing your story 🙂

    • Laura April 15, 2010, 6:53 pm

      Hi Michelle, have you considered going abroad as an intern after you graduate? I know over in the U.K. architecture is a very highly regarded degree- like seriously well regarded, so I’m sure it is the same in many other countries- it would look great on your CV, you would have great contacts, and could see a bit of the world whilst still young? Good luck!

  • Megan @ Healthy Hoggin' April 15, 2010, 6:26 pm

    Good advice! I was an illustration major in college, and I was TERRIFIED of graduating and finding NO work! I was not comfortable with the idea of free-lancing and not having a steady income, so I actually started double-majoring in business as well, just as a back-up! I graduated with my art degree first, so I started job-hunting while continuing to work on my business degree.

    Interviewing for jobs scared me to death! It’s difficult trying to figure out if a company is a good “fit” for you! I was actually offered a very nice salary from the first company I interviewed with– but I had a feeling in my gut that I wouldn’t be happy there! Turning that position down made me sick to my stomach! But I kept working as a waitress, as well as working on my business degree, and then one month later I interviewed for a smaller design company that just felt “right.” The money was less, but I really hit it off with the owner, and could tell he was going to be an AWESOME boss to work for! I quit working on my second degree, and took the plunge. Now, three years later I make much more money at this company and am SO happy with my job! I even got to move with my husband and work from home!

    And I definitely agree– do as many internships as you can and take advantage of career services if you have it! The more experience you have, the better!

  • AshleyLauren April 15, 2010, 6:29 pm

    I pretty much love this post. You’re so positive! It’s quite…uplifting, not to sound too corny.

    I’m a 26 year old land use planner who went straight to grad school from undergrad. From the time I graduated college to the time I graduated with my Masters, the world COMPLETELY changed. The job I had interned and worked so hard for just doesn’t exist anymore, but I love my boss, respect the mission of my workplace, and have a great quality of life! It def could be worse…but I wonder how things would have turned out if I was a little younger…

    Anyway, GREAT post!! Congrats on all your successes 🙂

  • Kait April 15, 2010, 6:39 pm

    Thank you for posting this, it honestly came at the perfect moment for me. I am graduating in May and still don’t have a job. I went to a career panel yesterday that was supposed to help but I ended up leaving SO stressed out, anxious, and on the verge of a panic attack. I don’t know what caused it, but I just felt like I was never going to find a job no matter how hard I tried. I called my mom and she calmed me down, and I went on a head clearing walk today, but reading this just gave me even more confidence that everything will work out.
    Again, THANK YOU, you have really great insight!

  • Bec April 15, 2010, 6:42 pm

    This post comes at a great time for me as in 2 weeks I am finishing up grad school and am feeling the pressure to get a real job!

  • Laura April 15, 2010, 6:49 pm

    Uh oh, I could write for hours about this- I so, so agree with your advice about choosing a degree that is highly relevant to either a particular career, or generally just makes you very employable- my Mum, being head of the two years before British pupils leave school (Sixth form), gives that as advice as one of her cornerstones for making a good degree choice- also having some idea of where you might want to go before you graduate- and perhaps doing some related work experience that sets you out from the crowd (I took a year out during my degree to work at GSK- a pharmaceutical company- and also worked in other labs for free in holidays. I was very thankful that I was swayed by my Mum to go into a Sciencey degree rather than my equal love- History. I have had, and do have much better prospects- touch wood. Its allowed me to make unexpected career changes- I always thought I’d end up a research scientist, but am now retraining to become a Dr. Scary, as I gave up my job/good income/life where I used to live+am in serious debt now- just hoping I complete the training ok!
    Also, try not to have gaps on your CV- try to show initiative- if you can’t find paid work- try some (at least part-time) voluntary work… or maybe learn a new language. Don’t be too proud to take a stop-gap job- employers will admire you for getting your hands dirty as a cleaner or working in McDonalds- it shows courage, resilience and initiative.

    I’d also say, just generally, don’t make big risks with your employment- long term security ends up being more important than following a fairly unlikely dream- my Dad set up his own Biotech company in the 90s- a lifelong dream, loved it, but it folded, along with all our family’s savings with the stock market crash in 1999/2000 and, despite two temporary jobs, has spent most of that time unemployed and quite depressed and my Mum working all hours to support both of them.
    Something else I’ve encountered along the way is that you might be really surprised by the job/s that you enjoy the most- although I’m aiming to become a doctor, and am enthusiastic about it, I don’t think I have ever been happier working as an auxillary nurse, washing patients, feeding them, toileting them, and cleaning wards! Sounds crazy, I know… but if I had the financial choice… I’d choose the later job! I do so feel for graduates at the moment though, coming out with all the debt, and fewer opportunities for all their hard work- but they are there, and will be there in the future. Oh dear, I’m so sorry for the essay, pls feel free to delete it if its too long for a comment Caitlin! I guess I just feel passionately about it all!

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 6:50 pm

      i love long comments!

  • Amanda (The Shoe Perspective) April 15, 2010, 6:52 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I’m sure I’ll need them sometime in the future! 🙂 (not quite in college yet..)

    Advice for grads of college: No matter how stressful ife is, may it be finding a job, horrible boss, mean co-workers, or whatever, remember that YOU CAN DO THIS and YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat) April 15, 2010, 7:01 pm

    Everyone around me is crazy desperate to find a job, any job. I on the other hand am following my heart (or my mouth)! I want to find a job at a bakery and while it’s not a job that most people graduating from a liberal arts college pursue, I know it’s what I want to do, at least for now.

    I absolutely hated both the internships I had in the area I am studying so there is no way in h*ll I’m putting myself through that for the next 50 years, ya know? I want to WANT to go to work everyday. While I know, that isn’t likely every single day, I certainly don’t want to dread going to work and then sit there and countdown the hours/minutes/seconds.

    I’m getting some weird looks from my classmates and I feel a little bit guilty ‘wasting’ my $200,000 degree but I feel like now is the time for me to follow my heart and make mistakes….and bum off my parents :).

  • Ivy April 15, 2010, 7:05 pm

    I graduate at the end of July with my Bachelor’s in Nursing. I’ve always wanted to be in healthcare in some way, and I love nursing. People seem to think there’s still a huge nursing shortage but surprise! There’s not. Nursing graduates are currently having a very, very hard time finding jobs because there’s so many experienced ones who usually would have retired by now who are not retiring due to the economy. All the people who have found jobs in the May grad group are those that either had a job as a nurse tech before graduation or they just “know people”.

  • Suzanne April 15, 2010, 7:08 pm

    I think you gave some really good advice, although I disagree that your major in college should necessarily be geared toward your future career. College is the only time in your life that you can totally devote to yourself. At no other point will you be able to devote your time to learning things that are genuinely interesting to you and make you more of an insightful, learned person. If you can show that you are a hard worker and have interesting, diverse experience, you can find a job, but you’ll never have an opportunity like college again to immerse yourself in things like art or history just because they fascinate you. I majored in English and Theater, and now I’m doing Government Contracting. You have your whole life to learn practical things. I am so happy I spent four years of my life exploring things that I love.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 7:09 pm

      good comment 😉

  • Amanda @ Cakes and Ale April 15, 2010, 7:10 pm

    I would say don’t be afraid to start in what you may consider to be a menial, entry-level job. I started in my first job out of college as a receptionist, and have worked my way up from there. I’m now 6 years out of college and manage national accounts for Corona beer, and I LOVE my job. If you do a good job, work hard and prove yourself, you will be noticed.
    My mom always told me “no matter what you’re doing, be the best at it”. I resolved in that first job to be the best damn receptionist in the world, and people recognized that.
    So, whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability every day… you never know where it will lead you!

    • Amanda @ Cakes and Ale April 15, 2010, 7:12 pm

      Oh! And I wholeheartedly agree with Suzanne above… I was an English Lit major in college, which I chose simply because I like to read and write. I played up a lot of skills that I learned from that into my business career. For instance, you learn how to be a great communicator, a good researcher, and a creative thinker with that major… all excellent business attributes as well!

    • Lisa April 15, 2010, 10:09 pm

      I could not agree more…I find some of our entry-level colleagues are impatient and think they “deserve” to be doing more than they are doing at the political non-profit I work at. You do need to pay dues before you get to do some of the more “fun” things in certain professions. I try to mentor some of the harder working ones and find more “fun” opportunities for them. And I know it’s tough doing menial tasks, but remember those senior 30-somethings in the office started doing that work, too. And we absolutely notice those who work hard, don’t complain, and are willing to chip in with the less “fun” tasks.

      • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 11:04 pm

        YES! You gotta pay your dues!

  • Meredith @ Sweat Every Day April 15, 2010, 7:10 pm

    I don’t know that I completely agree with you when you said to pick a major not just because it is fun but because of career plans, though I understand where you’re coming from. I was MISERABLE in college when I was studying something that would get me a career, so I dropped it and my only major became latin american & iberian studies. what does one do with that???? (not much without another major). but I was HAPPY and I loved the rest of my experience at college. now I’ve figured it out – going to grad school in the fall – but I think I will always tell someone to major in what they have a passion for and the rest will fall into place.

    but thanks for sharing your story, it is so cool to hear the details! and I definitely agree with the rest of your advice 🙂

  • Lisa @ Early Morning Run April 15, 2010, 7:15 pm

    I think some of this also applies for those of us who are back in the job market after being laid off due to the sour economy. It’s tough and it takes perseverance and a thick skin. It might take a while to find a job, but you have to remember that there are others out there with you and you’re not alone. For me, I’m hoping to use this as a chance to change the direction of my career and do something I am really passionate about. Just hope I can find that job. Relatively soon.

  • Susan April 15, 2010, 7:20 pm

    My biggest advice is very similar to yours – don’t take your first job offer!!!!!! (!!!!!)

    I majored in journalism and no one in my program was getting good jobs out of school. I got offered a full-time, permanent, salaried position as a radio broadcaster and reporter, and accepted it on the spot because I thought it would be crazy not to.

    Had I taken even a day to consider it, I think I would have realized it was not the right job for me. I just didn’t have the fire in my belly that I needed to make it as a broadcast reporter. It was someone else’s dream, not mine.

    A year after finishing my undergrad, I’m single (had a bf all through school), moving farfar away, pursuing a career in personal training, and almost back to square one. But I’m still thankful for the detour I took – I learned a lot and wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  • Laura April 15, 2010, 7:33 pm

    Oooooh (sorry!) I just thought of something else- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF- both your mental and physical wellbeing is so much more important than anything else- its what is going to carry you through 40+ years of employment- and the better you look (as in well! not body shape etc) and feel- the more it will show through, and an employer who is looking to see whether you can- handle stress- fit in well with the team- be a nice person to be around- have a good level of self esteem/worth- not be liable to sick days off- will have all those boxes ticked off. I was really ill with glandular fever due to overwork when I went for studentship interviews and was turned down due to concerns over my health. A year later, I got accepted into an even better programme for something I was really excited about doing! Now I really am going to go to bed- you’ve kept me up into Friday now with this great topic 😉

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 7:34 pm

      yes, i love this point. take care of yourself! its so important.

  • A Reader April 15, 2010, 7:46 pm

    I usually really like your blog, but had a big problem with the last half of this post. I get that you wanted to do a summary section, but it really should have been either a what I learned or advice style piece. What you basically said with the, don’t major in something just because you like it is that you went for an English degree because you ‘liked it’ but I’m going to take a giant leap and say it has probably helped you immensly in developing as a young writer. Too many people also feel pressure to pick a major in college to get them “on track” and prepared for the “work world.” Well maybe picking a major that is the right fit is the same practice as finding a job that will be a right fit. And as you stated, “If your job sucks, look for other work and make a change. A job isn’t forever, and it’s not worth being miserable.” Why exactly can’t the same attitude be taken when looking at your path throughout college? You’re a good example of a young woman making her own life choices, but you may need to get off the high horse/only lecture to select audiences.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 7:51 pm

      Actually, I don’t think my degree helped me at all in my writing career. I would’ve told you that if you asked!

      Sorry if you didn’t like the post, but that’s not really a good reason to be rude and insult me. I was just sharing my opinion. I asked for others opinions, and I’m glad you shared yours! But I’m sure other people would’ve found it more helpful if you hadn’t been so rude.

  • My Life As I Live It April 15, 2010, 8:01 pm

    I wish I had read this prior to graduating, 7 years later I’m not so sure I love what I do.

  • Jess April 15, 2010, 8:03 pm

    I’m headed back to law school in August. I started last August but decided I needed to take a break to figure things out, to realize if I really wanted to be a lawyer since it’s really taxing and really, really difficult (believe me, when they tell you it’s hard, they’re downplaying how hard it actually is). I just sent in my FAFSA today and am ready/excited to go back. It is something I want to do. And from what I’ve learned, most of paying for college and graduate education is for the alumni connections and the career center. They help you get your on campus interviews and set up internships and what not.

    I’m lucky to have found the blog world which I love for the support and everything, and maybe one day I’ll land a sweet gig like your book deal (which is AMAZING, I am so totally happy for you because it’s a brilliant, helpful idea) but I still want to change the world doing something that I’ve always been interested in (the law…call me weird).

    What I have realized though is that college degrees are great, but not as special as they used to be any more. It seems like everyone has a college degree. What a lot of career paths are looking for now are post-graduate and professional degrees. It sucks because it’s so expensive 🙁

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 8:04 pm

      congrats on returning to school! if you took a break and it still feels right, i bet it is 🙂 You’ll emerge smart as heck!

  • A Reader April 15, 2010, 8:04 pm

    How did four years of reading and writing essays not help your writing career? Im sorry if you took offense, but I just think you could have phrased some of it differently. If I was an undergrad confused about where to begin my college career, being told not to major in something fun coming from someone who has opportunities like working from home/leaving their first job and had already completed a double major isn’t exactly constuctive advice.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 8:19 pm

      I think you are misreading what I said. I said, “Don’t major in something JUST because it’s fun to study – think about how you can use the degree as a career, too. I don’t think enough of us think of college as job preparation.” I’m not saying that you need to take UNFUN or BORING classes that you hate, but I am saying that if you do not think about how to turn your liberal arts major into a career path with out-of-the-classroom experience, you are screwed.

      I know you said that too many students feel pressured to pick a major in college to get them “on track” and prepared for the “work world”… but that’s exactly what college is FOR! You don’t need to pay $80,000 to find yourself, you can do that when you are 19 and in the working world if you want. The problem so many graduates have right now is they did NOT think of college as career preparation and now they cannot find work.

      I was a paid professional freelancer for TWO YEARS before I even switched to an English major and no one EVER asks me where I went to college or what I majored in. No one cares that you studied it or what grades you got – they just want to see experience (published clips). The ONLY exception I can think of is if you want to go into journalism, but again, no one is going to hire you just because you have the degree. If you don’t get experience outside the classroom, it does not matter. Every single English professor will tell you the exact same thing. You can get writing experience in any liberal arts major.

  • Katherine April 15, 2010, 8:11 pm

    THANK YOU for doing this! I’m in the middle of having no idea what internships to do or if I can even get one or what not.
    (subscribe to advice feed? yes)

  • Lauren April 15, 2010, 8:20 pm

    I can’t tell you how wonderful this post was for me to read. I am graduating in one month, but I feel so scared that I will never get a job. I actually have nightmares about it…in the dream, I’m still living with my parents at age 40 and I have no job. Not a fun prospect. I hate feeling like the whole world is against me what with the economy being so terrible. It was nice to hear a more positive outlook! Most of my friends are feeling just the same as I am so they are not always very hopeful. Your post really makes me feel like things are going to work out no matter what! Thanks again for this update.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 8:24 pm

      Don’t worry, Lauren! You’ll find something. It might take some time in this economy, but there are tons of opportunity out there. Just be open! And make use of career services. It’s an awesome resource.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 8:25 pm

      Don’t worry! You’ll find something. It might take some time, but an opportunity is waiting for you. Definitely make use of career services. Its a great resource.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 8:31 pm

      Double comments are awesome! Hehe glitch in the system.

  • Heather (runningwithsass.com) April 15, 2010, 8:32 pm

    My husband and I say all the time we should write a book on what we wished we would ahve known going into college. We would have done things SO much differently, both of us. He went to law school, like you were saying, so when he got out we would have money (pay back loans!) and the economy tanked right before he graduated in 2008…so after 200+ resumes he started his own firm. It has been SO SO hard and business is slow, but we are trying to make it work!

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 8:33 pm

      way to be entrepreneurial! what kind of law does he do?

      • Heather (runningwithsass.com) April 15, 2010, 8:41 pm

        A little bit of everything right now while we are getting started…but mainly business type stuff…contract disputes, wills, name changes…etc. etc.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) April 15, 2010, 8:37 pm

    Don’t feel you are stuck in a career just because it is what you studied. I loved teaching but it wasn’t my passion. So I went back to school for my passion in ministry. I am much happier now and even though I have more loans I’m much happier and will do this the rest of my life.

  • Karoline April 15, 2010, 8:52 pm

    I agree that college should be for job preparation, but as an English major, the analytical, writing, and communication skills I developed in college have been really helpful. I actually DID end up using my major literally – I graduated last May and after 2 weeks off, went straight to a 1-year grad program in teaching (at NYU). I’m student teaching 7th grade in the South Bronx right now, and while it’s crazy and hard, it makes me feel satisfied and challenged. Now I’m back in the job market again, but that struggle is worth it for something I love!

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 8:53 pm

      Your teacher job sound fulfilling and interesting! And yes, I agree that liberal arts majors are great for the real-world skills they teach you.

  • Becca April 15, 2010, 8:53 pm

    I am 24 years old and ashamed to say I cannot and will not cut and clean my own cantaloupe! I love it but the insides gross me out! My mom will specifically get it and clean it for me when I come to visit! Great tips on careers! I am currently in a job I am unhappy with but make way too much money to complain. I plan on saving for a few years, gaining experience, and moving on to something I love! Good luck on your races!

  • Kate April 15, 2010, 9:25 pm

    Great post!

    I definitely agree with you about the major issue. I went to university and graduated with a degree in marine biology. all through university I was encouraged to ‘discover myself’ and take courses that I was interested in. I was definitely interested in marine biology but after I graduated I found it extremely hard to find a job. Throughout my degree I wasn’t thinking about my career or what I would need to get a job. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science and most of the jobs that I had applied for considered a Master’s degree an asset. After a year of trying to find a job in my field I became frustrated with what I was doing and realized that the lab jobs I was applying for weren’t really something that I would enjoy. I worked in retail since I was in high school and I love working and interacting with people. I had registered in classes at Dalhousie (where I had graduated from) to try and get into a Master’s program, as it seemed to me that was the only way for me to go to get a job in my field. I went to my first day of class and realized that it wasn’t for me. I made an appointment with the career counselor and took a career aptitude test. I had been thinking of doing nursing or teaching and one of my results was a dietitian. It sounded like something I could really be interested in since it involves both science and working with people. Right now I am finishing up my first semester in a degree in Dietetics to become a Dietitian.

    Sorry for the long-winded comment, I just realized how long it was! I just think that it’s so important to get the point across for people in university or college to think about their careers and to not just take courses that they think are cool or interesting. It’s important to be interested in your career, but that’s only a part of it. I would never take back the time I spent getting my other degree. I made many friends and traveled to Bermuda to scuba dive in the coral reefs. I think that the path that I’m on is what I will be doing for a long time, if not the rest of my life.

  • Lacey @ Lake Life April 15, 2010, 9:28 pm

    Sometimes money IS the end all. It obviously isn’t if you have a second income to fall-back on, but if you’re trying to find a career right out of college, you need to compromise.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 9:31 pm

      true. as i said in the bullet, we all have to work for money sometimes.

  • Diana (Mymarblerye) April 15, 2010, 9:46 pm

    I’m hella glad and hella lucky to be in the healthcare field. Tons of my friends are graduates of law school and can’t find a job. My advice is pick something you love but look at the job market!! You got bills at the end of the day!!

  • Megan April 15, 2010, 9:54 pm

    I have to chime in in agreement with the person who said that sometimes people, especialy when just graduating, need to learn how to “suck it up.” I do, however, realize this isn’t always the most useful advice, so I have two things to add.

    A lot of times, in a lot of jobs (good economy or bad), you have to “pay your dues” with a lot of crappy work before you can reach your ultimate goal. It doesn’t make it any less awful, though!! I know, as I’ve been working in jobs I haven’t been in love with for the past three years.

    First, even if you’re NOT in your chosen field, it helps to think of the skills or connections you’re making–and no matter how bad the job is, you’re probably getting one or the other! If you are in your chosen industry, think of how you can get to the job you really want, and how what you are donig is helping you get there. For example, right now I am working in a truly awful job in a cool industry, so I focused on how it would help me in my law school applicaitons to have such an interseting job and reccomendation on my resume.(and I got into GREAT law schools–so that panned out!)

    Secondly, if you have a job that doesn’t “fufill you” or “feed your soul” find something that does! You don’t always have to be passionate about your job. Period. Volunteer, focus on reaching goals OUTSIDE of work, find people with similar hobbies and spend time on that. I cut 30 minutes off my marathon time (and BQ-ed), and I think it was due in large part to having a job I hate. I was able to focus lots of time and energy on training, and “spend” all the passion that I was not using on my job on running. In a wierd way, I think I also got a MUCH better LSAT score as a result of having a job that didn’t stimulate me intellecutally. Because of that, I was able to go home and take (sick) pleasure in studying a LOT. I firmly believe that if your life outside of work is full of joy and passion, your “awful” job starts to look less bad.

    Kudos to those who have found a job that brings them joy, and to those who haven’t, hang in there!

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 11:03 pm

      i SOOO agree that you can find fulfillment outside of work. that is so important to remember.

  • Megan April 15, 2010, 9:55 pm

    Whoa I jsut saw what my comment looks like–it didnt seem so long when I wrote it!

  • heidi April 15, 2010, 10:52 pm

    the biggest piece of advice i have for college grads…

    …don’t be afraid to think outside the box. seriously. I thought i knew what i wanted, i interned on capitol hill, I was certain i wanted to be involved in politics in some facet.

    Three years later, i was nothing but miserable. I found happiness through running and working part time at a gym. Today? I’m working for an amazing company that allows me to incorporate my love of running, yoga and social media into what i do. I couldn’t be happier.

    Find what makes you happy, and don’t be afraid to not use your degree if it’s not making you happy. My biggest fear taking this job was that it wasn’t in my field. I wasn’t using my degree/major. But, truth be told, i couldn’t have gotten my job without that degree. Those experiences leading up to my graduation from college shaped me to who i am and where i am and despite the debt, i found a job that makes me happy and where i feel valued, and i wouldn’t trade that for anything.

  • Katy April 15, 2010, 10:56 pm

    I don’t graduate from Pitt for two more years- but I think I might have fallen into the pick-a-major-you-love-but-can-never-do-anything-with rut. I think I have the same mindset as you did- I just want to find something right out of college that can get me money FAST…

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 11:05 pm

      Career Services at PITT is especially awesome! I know because I used to work there. They have SOOO many resources.

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople April 15, 2010, 11:02 pm

    It was really neat to read about your career journey. I didn’t know most of that before!

    I went to college and tried on a few different things before getting an associate’s in general studies. I did eventually get an associate’s in office management as well, but I searched for a job for 18 months, going on countless interviews and couldn’t find anyone who cared about a degree. They only wanted 2-5 years of experience that I just couldn’t get, because no one would hire me! lol

    I then became a professional “housewife.” I found a church I liked and started volunteering in the early childhood ministry with my best friend. Some job opportunities became available and we both applied and we were BOTH hired! So I get to teach kids ages 0-5 about Jesus, and even though I only get about eight hours a week, I’m having a blast.

    • Caitlin April 15, 2010, 11:08 pm

      your job sounds awesome! you get to work with your bFF!!

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) April 16, 2010, 12:10 am

    I love your advice about not just studying something because it sounds fun, etc. but instead choose something that you can actually get a job in!!

    I started by doing a Bachelor of Education degree right out of high school. I finished in 4 years and began working as a substitute teacher. I didn’t know how long it would take me to get my own class, so I started going to school at night for a “backup plan.” I began my BA Honours degree in Psychology. 4 years later (this past fall) I FINALLY got my own classroom, and also finished my BA. This coming Fall I am starting my Masters in Educational Psychology (also in the evenings).

    All the education choices I have made have directly/ will directly benefit me in the work force, whether it is with more money or more career options. I think it is very important to get an education that will lead to some sort of career. I also think that students should NOT slack off. Why waste the money and time?

  • Alissa April 16, 2010, 4:39 am

    I totally agree with all of those points! I did a degree in Drama, which I only did because I was good at it and enjoyed it, which may not have been the best use of 3 years, especially as there are few jobs out there for graduates at the moment – especially ones with an unspecific degree.

    I think if I had done more internships I would have found my passion for food earlier, and perhaps got some qualifications and experience in that area instead. Maybe!

    I think going to university is highly overrated, as there really aren’t the jobs for the students when they graduate. I am now self-employed, and satisfied with that, but it didn’t need me going to uni to get this far!

  • Caroline April 16, 2010, 7:35 am

    Mistake number one, right here! I majored in French because it was easy. Now I’m working a job that bores me to death, making the university’s lowest salary, and learning that science is really what I’m all about. But I get to take classes for free and I’m going to work my booty off to get out of here into something I love! Really I almost wish I had followed my brother’s path (even though my dad hated it) and taken some time off. He figured out what he wants to do without wasting money on tuition, and is now back in school for environmental studies. Smart boy.

    • Caitlin April 16, 2010, 8:29 am

      that AWESOME that you get free classes!

  • Jessica @ Jessica Balances April 16, 2010, 9:32 am

    Thanks for this post, Caitlin! I am graduating from college in one month (!!!) so I can totally identify with EVERYTHING you just talked about. I’m freaked out, but I know something is going to work out. I am lucky that my parents want me to do something that I am passionate about and enjoy, and that they are willing to support me until I find such a job. 🙂

  • Diann April 16, 2010, 10:46 am

    “No amount of money can make up for your soul being sucked out of you.” 1 million percent AGREE! Great post.

  • Katie April 16, 2010, 12:15 pm

    It’s amazing that certain situations/problems pop on up on the blogs I’m reading just when I’m dealing with them!

    I actually just came to a decision yesterday afternoon regarding these types of choices. I went to undergraduate school for art, something I dearly love, at a liberal arts school which helped me gain broader skills. One of the best classes I ever had to take was implemented the year I was graduating, and was basically a life course for emerging artists. It taught you so many things about applying for/writing grants, getting yourself out there, networking, how to to sell your work. I wish more classes were like that.

    After graduating I spent the fall applying for graduate school, and heard back earlier this month. I was severely stressing about and doubting whether or not I even wanted to go for the field I applied for. Due to some sound advice I received, and which actually was reiterated in this post!, I’ve decided that I need more time to decide whether or not I want to spend so much money for a degree. I need to get more internships than what I’ve done in the field and know. I’m asking to defer my acceptance and try harder to get more real world experience. I can’t just assume that I’ll get my perfect job (if I even know what that is) / know what I want to do without actually trying. Just because so many people I know are heading off to graduate school, or being told I should move across the country for school, doesn’t mean that’s what’s right for me right now.

    I don’t know where I was going with the comment, but I think it was just wonderful to read this post and related comments and see what everyone had to say. I’m so comfortable with the decision I just made, grad school was just something I should jump in to, and I just loved the honesty of what everyone had to say.

  • barb April 16, 2010, 12:42 pm

    Wanted to subscribe by rss but couldn’t locate your button. I also love cinnamon. I actually have 2 of the huge Tone 16oz jars right now & I’m sure they’ll be gone before I know it. I put it in everything I can!

  • Marika April 16, 2010, 1:50 pm

    I know everything’s been said, but I wanted to chime in: I agree with those who say you should study what you like and ideally not be pressured by outside influences (I was an English major, now I work as a translator). Internships and the Career Center are also great ideas!

  • Ali @ Food, Fitness, Fashion April 16, 2010, 1:57 pm

    This is a GREAT post! Even for someone 5 years out of college, I found it really helpful!

  • Nicole, RD April 16, 2010, 6:57 pm

    Seek something you’re passionate about and don’t take out loans to blow them on the finer things in life. I wish I would’ve lived much more frugally while in grad school!

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