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Life lessons learned through the search for a job

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Your path to finding a first job will be different. But in one way it will be a similar. It will be the story of how you convinced someone to take a chance on you.

Erick
Rommel

When I graduated college, I wanted to be a television producer. I liked the idea of a career where you had the opportunity to share information that made a difference.

As a new graduate, the odds were not in my favor. Still, I knew the jobs were out there; I just needed to find them.

A few weeks after graduation I traveled from my home in Maryland to Massachusetts. I used that as an opportunity to advance my job search. I called every television station from Maine to upstate New York and asked if I could come in for an interview because I'd be "in the area."

I just didn't tell them "the area" was New England.

Through my efforts, I landed two job interviews. Compared to almost any other candidate I was underqualified. In a battle of resumes, I would lose.

To be successful, I had to differentiate myself. Every other candidate would talk about their experience. I spoke about my passion. My desire to learn. My determination to overcome any obstacle I faced.

My approach worked: two job interviews attended, two jobs offered.

I turned them down. In one case, the reason was money. They weren't offering enough to cover the cost of essentials like food and shelter. In the other case, the job offer disappeared when the person making it became unemployed the next day.

Undeterred, my search continued with one difference. I knew my approach would work.

Soon after, I found another job that interested me, this time in Tallahassee, Florida. I called and arranged an interview. I then set up interviews in two other cities. In both cases they were pleased to hear I'd be "in the area." That area being, you guessed it, the South.

I never made it to the latter two cities. I accepted a job offer in Tallahassee and began work three weeks later.

Your path to finding a first job will be different. But in one way it will be a similar. It will be the story of how you convinced someone to take a chance on you.

In that way finding a job is no different than making a friend. Most important: Be likeable. You can't be successful without the support of those around you. Plus, you'll have more friends, which is always nice.

Getting a job is just the beginning. Many of us dream of being hired and working in one place our entire life, moving up the ladder of success because we love what we do and we feel we make a difference.

Unfortunately, that's rarely the case. After two years in Tallahassee and another two elsewhere, I realized my career path was taking me in a direction I didn't want to go. I wanted to settle down and have a family, neither of which seemed compatible with the jobs available to me.

I began looking for jobs in public relations and marketing. Again, I set up interviews by claiming to be "in the area."

I quickly got a job working in hospital public relations in an area close to family. Unfortunately, I didn't love my new job. But even though I didn't have a great interest in medicine, I could always find some aspect that interested me. I found success because I found ways to share those interests with others.

That ability landed me my next job, writing for a Catholic newspaper. And, through that, I received the opportunity to share my story today with you.

The lessons I'm learning continue and will never end. Hopefully what I discover on my journey helps you on yours as you find your own path. Regardless, remember you're not alone. At the very least, I'm available.

If you have any questions, let me know. After all, I'm always in the area.

ERICK ROMMEL IS A COLUMNIST WITH THE CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE.

Erick Rommel is a columnist with the Catholic News Service.

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