Emma Stone’s lip sync battle with Jimmy Fallon. Charlie and his older brother. Women who REALLY love cats. When a single video can rack up millions of views and social media shares, it’s easy to see how the internet connects us.
But at the same time, if you’ve ever written a blog post or status update or tweet that seemed to vanish into a black hole (No one liked your vacation selfie or your review of the latest dystopian future YA novel? Seriously?!), you realize how hard it can be to actually connect with people on social media.
So we were super thrilled when Chau Le reached out to us over Twitter to see if she could learn more about AfterCollege and what it was like to work here. Her story is proof that you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to someone to ask for an opportunity—you never know where it might lead!
The day I graduated with my BA, I looked up at the skies, completely dazed and confused: I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I spent that year spending a little more time on YouTube than I probably should have. But there’s only so much energy you can put into watching cat videos before it gets old (not really). I knew that I had to jump-start my job search, and literally during an online search, stumbled upon AfterCollege.com.
AfterCollege not only assists students in refining their job hunt, but also has an accompanying blog that delves deeper into the process by providing advice, interviews, and personal anecdotes on the successes, mistakes, and ways to nab the (possibly) perfect career.
I began spending a lot of quality time with the blog and ended up reading more than half of the articles written, and could easily tell you what UX meant, how to give your résumé a teardown, and recount the interesting life stories and interviews of interns and experienced engineers.
When I realized that the company was located in San Francisco, not too far from my own home—completely unsure about whether or not I’d get a reply—I tweeted AfterCollege, asking if I could have a chat or even drop by the office. And to my surprise, my phone made a little jingle and I saw that they’d tweeted back. Before I knew it, I was in direct contact with the Content Marketing Manager, Melissa Suzuno, who invited me to spend a day with the AfterCollege team.
That’s right: one gamble-tweet and I had a date with one of my favorite blogs (I have since then become a true Twitter believer).
As a recent graduate, one of the strongest obstacles of finding a job was my fear of actually finding a job. I was afraid of “joining the workforce,” “getting a real job,” “being a big girl”… the list of phrases goes on, and all instilled in me a nervousness that was akin to getting a flu shot.
The day finally came: I arrived at AfterCollege, and both Melissa Suzuno and Kellen McKillop of the Content Marketing team shook my hand, giving me the warmest smiles. We toured the office, which was located on the 5th floor of a building in downtown San Francisco. I saw the engineers at work, focused and quiet, the sales team on the other end of the room, chattering away on their phones at top speed with customers, and even walked by the VP in an open meeting.
No one was wearing suits, but work was getting done. Every so often you’d hear laughter from one end of the room, and knew that someone had made a joke—wait, wait, this was the scary workforce? This was fun; this was friendly, and all whilst being productive.
I felt like a VIP guest when Melissa and Kellen informed me that they’d prepared two presentations, one about the AfterCollege history and company structure, and the second one specifically geared towards my interest in Content Marketing. Even cooler? The power duo (Melissa and Kellen) asked if I wanted to not only watch, but be a part of one of their daily tasks, which was to come up with social media copy for the blog posts.
I’ve written blurbs for my own personal blog to post on Facebook and Twitter before, but I’ll be honest: coming up with fun phrases to tweet is easy to do when you’re at home in your pajamas with no deadline, whereas sitting in an office with only 20 minutes to come up with almost 10 different eye-catching posts for 10 different audiences (Facebook! Twitter! LinkedIn! The list goes on) kind of hurt my head… I like to think that I became significantly smarter and more creative after that exercise. But what’s most important was that Melissa and Kellen were exceptionally patient and supportive as I sat there struggling to come up with ideas that they probably conjured up in five minutes over a cup of Joe.
Before I knew it, four hours had passed, and it was the end of my shadowing. I left AfterCollege feeling relaxed, happy, and accomplished. Happy because of how engaging and fun it was to be with the family, and accomplished because I now knew a little more about the no-longer-terrifying work world. I was once cowed by the idea of stiff business suits and forced smiles, where people used incomprehensible business lingo (I think I just internalized too much of Wolf Of Wall Street), none of which was the case at AfterCollege. I didn’t think it was possible to make, create, and support a brand and company while, you know… having fun.
I believe that if people knew that working environments were like this, where everyone was as smart and capable as the folks at AfterCollege (but equally fun and friendly), recent graduates would be far less tentative when it came to jumping in and getting a job. I know I am, and that’s thanks to getting behind the scenes with AfterCollege.
Homework time! Find someone that you admire—it could be a blogger, designer, or thought leader in an industry you’d like to learn more about—and create a goal. It could be to ask them to look at your portfolio, spend 15 minutes on the phone with you to talk about their career path, or let you come shadow them on the job. (You may need to do a bit of research to figure out where they live and work and how realistic it would be for you to meet in person.) Then find a way to reach out, whether it’s through email, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Make sure you send a personalized message and you’re super clear about what you’re hoping to achieve.
Have a success story like Chau’s you want to share? Let us know in the comments section below!
Chau Le is an avid globetrotting polyglot, who has an unhealthy romance with Nutella, an attraction to writing, and an addiction to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Read more of Chau’s writing at http://thetravelingcherub.wordpress.com.