How I got my first job

Contrary to the title of this blog, it wasn’t exactly ‘here today, job tomorrow’ for me. But it didn’t take all that long either. I worked with a career counsellor and was employed in 5 months. Since I was working during 3 of those months, I was only crashing at my parents’ for 2. Given stories I’ve heard from my fellow graduates, I don’t think I did too badly.

I’m going to walk you through the process of how I ended up employed by November 2014.

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(Side note: living at home wasn’t so bad either – here’s a shot of the street I grew up on in Cambridge, Ontario)

January 2014: I was living and teaching English in France – it was a sweet life, but I knew I wanted to return to my homeland and give ‘big-city livin’ a shot. My Visa expired in May, so I started looking and tapping into my network early in the new year.

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Here’s me with one of my classes at a school I taught at in France (Villneuve-les-Avignon.)

I began like most others – applying for jobs posted online, at places where I didn’t know anyone or have any prior connections. But hey, I had two degrees (one from an internationally recognized school in the UK), co-op work experience, and writing skills that would be evident in my cover letters (I thought). I felt qualified for and interested in all the applications I completed, and I thought employers would see this.

I should’ve been fine, right?

Wrong. I applied to

I applied to 50 posted jobs online from January-April 2014. I heard from

I heard from zero.

I started feeling frustrated and anxious. As someone who likes to constantly be doing something productive, the thought of not having a plan (for 3 months in my future) not clear was not sitting well. So I did what any overachiever would do. I started applying for internships. This was against my values at the time, because I had told myself that I wouldn’t go back to the “intern” level after getting my Masters. It was big girl job or bust. Yet, I was more nervous about having no plan upon touchdown in Canada that I set all that aside.

March 2014: I knew about the Young Liberals of Canada internship program in Ottawa and quickly got my application in. I wanted to give Ottawa a go, already loved the city, and had some friends and family there – so I applied for the 3-month position (thankfully it was paid). I had a great summer and learned a lot about politics, communications and policy research. I knew it was a temporary thing, and just in case it didn’t turn into a full-time paid position, I made sure I was preparing my ‘career backup plan’.

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Young Liberals of Canada Summer Interns, Ottawa, 2014.

August 2014: After my internship ended, I needed another course of action. My dad had previously worked with a career coach by the name of Rob Straby, who he then recommended to me. I could not have been more thankful. Even if you are an articulate, confident, people person, determining what your core skills are and how to package them in order to tell other people can be extremely challenging.

September 2014: But that’s what Rob taught me to do. I categorized my skills into 3-4 highlights, and then I went into the world and told my stories to people. I did this for 2 months or so. I have to admit, for the most part, I enjoyed it! There were times when meetings didn’t go well and it was hard not to be discouraged. When people would ask me again and again – “what do you want to do?” and in my head, I thought, “anything! I need a job!” I just want to move to Toronto! But that’s not what people wanted to hear. They wanted to help, so if I wasn’t clear on myself or my goals, they couldn’t. Luckily I had coffee with persistent people really willing to help me get to the bottom of it.

October 2014: My luck turned on October 1st, 2014 when I met with an old colleague, Andreas Souvaliotis. One of my co-op jobs was at LoyaltyOne (otherwise known as the Airmiles Rewards Program). Andreas was leading up AirMiles for Social Change. I had met him in undergrad because I thought the venture was fascinating. He didn’t have room for me at the time as a co-op student, but we kept in touch. When we met again, he was just getting his new venture – Social Change Rewards (now Carrot Insights) – off the ground. Again, I didn’t meet his hiring needs, but he referred me to two other people he thought I could. One of those two ended up becoming my boss just one month later.

This one referral ended up being the golden ticket. By late October I had a meeting with Phillip Haid, CEO of Public Inc.. By November 6th I had my offer in hand and started full-time on November 10th. It was wild.

This all happened through my network. No job posting was seen, no cover letters or resumes were exchanged. My network connected me, recommended me, and then I pulled through for me.

*SUCCESS!*

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The Public Team celebrating a birthday/our intern! Credit: Public Inc. Instagram account

My story would not have been possible without my network or the program that I went through. I will now tell everyone I can about how I got my last job and would recommend that anyone go this route for finding their next gig. It takes some confidence since it’s really a self-marketing expedition, but if you start with those who know you well, it will get easier.

What else do you want to know about the process? How did you get YOUR last job? Let me know in the comments section!

2 thoughts on “How I got my first job

    • Thank you for the feedback! It’s great to hear that this advice applies not only to recent grads but anyone at any place in their career. I so believe networking is the way to go. Please keep me posted on the process!

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