Alumni Answers: Finding and Pursuing Opportunities

Alumni Answers: Finding and Pursuing Opportunities

Dear Alumni,
I often find it difficult to be proactive about pursuing job opportunities on my own, especially when I am not sure what I want to do long term. This often results in my waiting for opportunities to fall into my lap, which does not always happen. Do you have any advice about how to be more successful in finding and pursuing job opportunities? Thanks! (Anne, Senior, English & Classical Philology-Latin)

Phillip W. (BS Biology, 2015), Fulbright Research Scholar, Fulbright Organization (Madrid, Spain)

Nobody is going to seek you out for great opportunities. If you’re in search of motivation, imagine a life in which no one cares whether you’re able to earn a comfortable living or not. Then, take a second and realize that that reality will be yours come graduation in May. People in the professional world pay for performance and results – you either deliver or they will find someone who will. John Wooden said “90% of life is showing up.” The first thing to do to find a job is ask. Send emails, make phone calls, and network. Meet with professionals to ask what they do, why they do it, and how they got to that position. Go with a specific set of questions that you want answered, and after a meeting, always follow up with an email. You also need to be proactive in joining listservs and job boards and monitor them closely (e.g. The Heritage Foundation Job Bank – 100+ pages of jobs in every imaginable field and position levels ranging from upper level executives to internships at organizations that share a UD philosophy). After that, just apply like your life depends on it.

Victoria W. (BA Psychology, 2013), Program Manager at Catalyst Health Network

Hi Anne, First of all, it’s perfectly fine that you don’t know what you want long term. You may not know until you enter the workforce. Rather than thinking of what job you want long term, focus on what you’re interested in. Explore jobs related to that interest. Be willing to be surprised, it’s one of the best parts of working! You should also think in terms of what you want out of your career. Do you want to be able to travel for your job? Do you want flexible hours? It’s okay to not know the answers now, but have those questions in mind. For example, if you know you prefer a flexible schedule, look for industries (such as tech) that tend to have them. You don’t have to figure everything out yet. Just think about your interests and find jobs related to that. Reach out to UD alums and utilize the school’s resources. You’ll be fine.

John P. (BA Politics, 1987), Senior Analyst at Legislative Budget Board, State of Texas

Look for internships, even if they are not paid. Unpaid internships can sometimes lead to paid work either at the same place or a different agency. It also helps you get contacts from people who might have a job or lnow about a job at a different place and this can help you in the long term. As for not being sure as to what you want to do in the long term, develop a plan B if you will . Think about something that even if it’s not your ideal job it’s something you would be willing to do for a living and develop some skills for that. When I left the University of Dallas many years ago my goal was to become a professor and I focused all my efforts in studying for that. When that did not work out, I really did not have a back up plan . It took me a while to switch career paths and this would have taken a much shorter time if I had taking advantage of an internship or otherwise had pursued skills earlier for another path in case this did not work out.

Cooper W. (BA Philosophy, 2012), Attorney at Malone Akerly Martin PLLC

Hi Anne, I hope you are well. Great question! It seems to me that you will continue to endure this struggle until you have decided what you would like to do long term (or at least have narrowed it down). In my experience, I have found that it is difficult to reach milestones if I do not have a specific goal. Until you decide what you would like to do, I’m afraid you will find it difficult to reach milestones in your professional life such as getting entry-level jobs in the field you would like to pursue. My suggestion for you would be to devote significant time to what you would like to do professionally. When deciding what I wanted to do, I started by figuring out what I wanted from my professional life (i.e., flexible hours, a challenge, good money, close to home, etc.). Spending time in prayer and meditation will be helpful was well. After determining what I wanted out of my professional life, it then became much easier to decide what career path I wanted to choose. Once I knew what I wanted to do, everything else fell into place. Hope this helps!

John P. (BA Fine Art, 1968; MA Fine Art, 1972), Self-employed Fine Artist

Dear Anne, This is an issue you share with most people, recent graduates and grizzled alumns. Blessed are those who have a clear idea of what they want to do, long term. For the rest of us, we aim for what seems best. Try to focus on values: meaningful, purposeful work, Specifics will become clearer in time. Job opportunities open through personal relationships. Talk with friends, colleagues, acquaintances and let them know that you are looking. Almost every job experience will be of benefit to you. Opportunities with “fall in your lap” after you let the world know that you are ready and able. Best wishes to you. It will all make sense later on.

Stephen L. (BA Political Philosophy), Chief Executive Officer at Dominus Commercial, Inc.

You must somehow have money?? my first job out of UD was when i was living with 4 other ud grads and they were about to kick me out of the apartment due to lack of rent/food/gas money. That motivated me – Opportunities only fall in the laps of those that are running towards them and stop and sit down for a short rest.

Todd S. (MBA Organizational Development 2012), Self-employed Talent Development Consultant

The first step is to think seriously about what you want to do. Consider completing an online assessment that helps you identify your strengths and interests. Also, look into finding a mentor who you can talk to and someone that can guide you in discovering some fields and/or industries you may want to look into.

Rachel L. (BS Biology, 2011), Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)  at Children’s Medical Center

Hi Anne, I can understand your frustrations. Job searching can be so difficult. I see that you are an English and Classical Philology major. Do you plan to pursue a career in this field? Have there been topics in your classes that have fascinated you? Do you want to pursue further education in these areas? Think about the field you want to pursue. What do you love and what career do you see yourself pursuing? It can be hard to find the “perfect” job, especially as a new graduate. However, even if you start in a job that is not exactly your ideal job, you can make valuable contacts that can connect you to opportunities in the future. Keep an open mind. Apply to a wide range of jobs you may be interested in pursuing. Ask lots of questions in the interviews to find out if this is a good fit. Speak to your professors, too, they may have insight into career paths with your knowledge in these areas! I hope this helps! Best of luck! Rachel

Stan M. (BA Economics and MBA),  Retired, VP / Director, Sales Operations, Business Operations at Fujitsu, Cisco, HP, Compaq, and others

Anne, I know the feeling you are experiencing. It is difficult for people to reach out and sell themselves, and that goes for some of my friends who are excellent salespeople! The best way is to talk to people, network with your friends and their friends. You can have some wonderful conversations on this journey and can broaden your exposure and perspective on things you never dreamed of. Most of the jobs I’ve had have been directly due to, or supported by, connections to friends or institutions like UD. The first job I had, the President of the company knew a professor at UD. The second job was sponsored by a friend, fellow alum at UD. And another job the hiring manager had gone to school at UD and knew its quality reputation, and then he went on and hired me at 3 other companies in the last 25 years… Good luck and enjoy the journey as much as it may seem difficult.

John L. (BA Business, 2016), General Ledger Accountant I at Associa

Hi Anne, I believe that one of the best things you could do, particularly while at UD, would be to go to all the various job fairs that the career office holds as well as to sign up for the job alerts from the career office. There is a wide variety of employers that want UD students, and hopefully there are a few of them who you are intrigued by. When I was a senior and then later looking for a job after grad school, I knew generally what I wanted to do, so I was able to target my search towards a specific goal/area. But if you aren’t exactly sure what path you want to pursue, I think the wide variety of people that come through UD throughout the year should give you at least a good idea of paths you might consider that you otherwise wouldn’t or new ways to apply your knowledge and skills that you might not have thought of before.

Dean C. (BA Mathematics 1994), Senior Consulting Actuary at Willis Towers Watson

1. Career advancement office can be very helpful for resumes and they have numerous corporate contacts for internships and other opportunities 2. Find a company you like in the area and go to their careers page to find open positions, then craft a resume to suit a position which sounds interesting to you. There is no substitute for trying and failing a few times, so start getting interviews and see what floats to the top. Dallas is full of opportunities right now with very large companies coming to town recently and settling in for the long haul. Look at Toyota and State Farm in Plano, Kimberly Clark and Celanese in Las Colinas, as these are among some of the bigger players who are constantly looking for good talent. 3. Talk to friends at church and ask people about their job. Be social and step out of your comfort zone!

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