Job Hunting: Expectations vs. Reality

In less than two weeks I’ll be wearing a chintzy cap and gown, waving my college years goodbye. Sadly, that means I’ll also be waving my summer break goodbye.

However, we all know that summer break is never truly a break anyway. Whether you are looking for a full-time, post-graduation position or a job that doesn’t require a long-term commitment, you can relate to the feelings that come with the school year ending and the job search beginning. While job hunting can be hard, aligning your expectations with reality can make it easier. I’ll share with you three areas in which we need to be cognizant of doing this as we continue on our job hunting journeys:


Try your best to secure a “destination job”—staying local is the last resort. The previous statement reflects the attitude that most students seem to have when looking for their first jobs. However, working in your hometown is not always the worst thing that could happen. And on the flip side, working a job in a brand new, exciting location is not a guaranteed fit, either. It may actually turn out that you have a number of great connections right under your nose, but that you’ve been too close-minded to notice them. I understand the appeal of moving away, but the reality is that you can’t be too picky when you’re just starting out in the workforce. I encourage you to apply for a handful of jobs in your hometown. You never know what starting in a local position could lead to and, at the very least, you may be able to save some money through living at home for a little while.

Position Description

Looking at position descriptions and their qualifications can be terrifying when you have little to no experience in your field, but don’t let that stop you from making a move! Even if your qualifications do not exactly line up with a position, reaching out to the company and letting them know that you are interested in working with them is completely acceptable (encouraged, even)! Experiencing love at first sight while perusing through job opportunities is unlikely, so don’t hesitate to request more information about those less-than-appealing position descriptions that you come across. Companies may be willing to negotiate with you on certain qualifications or duties. A company may also ask to keep your résumé on file for a later time or even put you in contact with a different company that would be a better fit. To be honest, you may just have to apply for positions that aren’t ideal. Sometimes the doors you want to be open just won’t be, no matter how hard to try force your way into them. Be willing to apply for jobs that may not sound like your “type,” because you might learn that you like an area of work more than you thought you would.

Peer Comparison

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparison is also the thief of a job. I believe one of the most damaging things you can do during your job hunt is compare your career path to someone else’s. You can’t expect to get a well-paying job in your field within the first three months of graduating simply because your friend who graduated last year did. You also can’t look at your friend who’s going on to graduate school and view his or her choice as any less than your choice to not pursue graduate-level education. While you definitely won’t do everything perfectly throughout your job search, there is no right way for you to enter into the workforce. It looks different for everyone, and it will be most beneficial for you to remain focused on the path that you’re on. Don’t discount the advice of others, but stay in tune with where your passions lie and what you aim to achieve in your career.

Olivia Kelley is a senior public relations major at Waynesburg University. She serves as the Content Coordinator on the Public Relations Committee of the Waynesburg University Chapter of PRSSA. Follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.