Job Search

Mari w mortar board

Thoughts for Recent and Soon-to-be College Grads

Holy mortar boards, Batman! I cannot believe that it has been a year since graduation. In light of that mystifying fact, I thought that it might be fun to share a few of the things that the class of 2014 can expect of life after graduation.


1) Free Time

You don’t have hours of homework anymore. You don’t have to go to varsity sport practice every day. You don’t have student senate meetings or newspaper layout or what have you. Even if you start a full-time job right out of school and volunteer or join a club sports team, you are still most likely going to have way more free time than you did in college. It will feel strange at first. You might experience phantom homework syndrome–that indefinable task that must be completed, but doesn’t actually exist, nagging at the back of your mind. However, after a while, you will embrace the freedom to read books for fun and hang out at bars for long lengths of time. No guilt necessary.

2) It Takes More Effort to Get Involved

Student activities, impromptu frisbee games, free concerts no longer wait just outside your door. You have to go out and find them. Friends and classmates scatter to the wind. Some might stick around, but work schedules will differ. It takes more logistical effort to round people up for a game of Cards Against Humanity or find like-minded people to advocate for coal divestment with. Plenty of opportunities for community involvement exist, but they aren’t going to float your way on the breeze.

3) Money

Oh, that. Yeah. Unfortunately, rent and water and Wi Fi and student loan payments and hard cider all require funding. So maybe try to make some money, preferably in some legal manner. And be careful about going crazy with spending after college. Traveling took a good chunk out of my savings, and if I had not been lucky enough to find a job soon after I started looking, I would have been living with my mom for a lot longer.

4) People Want to Help You

This isn’t something that changes after graduation. In college, you have professors encouraging your studies and extracurricular pursuits. After college, you can still get in touch with your old professors. You can also look to your employers as mentors, to fellow alumni, to other professionals in your field, and your peers. If you have the courage to ask for help and advice, it will usually be willingly and happily provided. Don’t worry. You don’t have to strike out on adulthood alone.

(Side note: Every job that I have been offered since graduating has resulted from asking alumni and previous employers for help.)

5) New Endeavors Pay Off

When I graduated, I had no clue what I was going to do with my double-major in East Asian Studies and Studio Art. At some point I decided it might be fun to try graphic design, so I taught myself how to use vector graphic software. Then, I posted on LinkedIn that I was looking for freelance work. Three Lewis & Clark alumni responded, and I wound up doing graphic design work for all of them. In some roundabout way, that led to me pursuing freelance social media consulting as well, which led to the job that I am starting next week: Communications Coordinator at Northwest Health Foundation. I’m certain that this job will lead to even bigger and better opportunities.

(Shameless plug: If you like the Facebook page I am working on for one LC alum, you will have access to all of the cute videos, interesting facts, and pictures of artwork that I post on the page. And, I will say thank you.)


p.s. If you have any questions about info interviews or job searching or are looking for someone to connect with in your field, I would be happy to share my resources and year of insight in the process, for what it is worth.


The News

So, here’s the news:

I got a job!!! My informational interviewing and freelancing and soul searching have paid off! I will be Northwest Health Foundation‘s part-time Communications Coordinator, starting May 5th, 2014. My responsibilities will mainly include managing NWHF’s social media outreach: Twitter, Facebook, etc. The goal is to use NWHF’s communications to help the nonprofits it partners with reach a larger audience. NWHF gives grants to and partners with nonprofits that further their mission of making health accessible to everyone, regardless of background. So excited to start!!!

I’ve also been working to make my job at Pension Consulting Alliance into a job that I want. Several people have told me that I should do that, and I am finally seeing things their way. I have identified areas that PCA needs help with–their website, their presentations–and I have offered to work on those areas with them. I’m hoping to eventually turn my position into something along the lines of Marketing Manager. But we will see. I will keep you updated. Meanwhile, I continue to do the best work that I can on the assignments that I am given and maintain a positive attitude.

And, just to add another thing on top of it all, I am expanding my freelance work. I’m doing not only graphic design, but social media as well.


Next goal: Save up enough money to buy a new computer so Adobe Creative Cloud will stop overloading my sad, old computer.


Moral: What they say is true. Talk to people. Make connections. Volunteer to gain experience. And insist on doing what you love. For a while there, I was seriously scared that I would not find a job in a field that I am passionate about, but it is all starting to come together.

Guest Blog by Katherine Nash

Surprise! I’m not Laura! Who do you think I am? Here are a few hints:

1)   I am younger.

2)   My writing isn’t as wonderful as her writing.

3)   Some people say we look similar.


If you guessed Katherine, her sister, then you are correct! For those of you who don’t know me, I will introduce myself. I’ve known Laura for nearly 20 years. We met in North Carolina when our mom brought me home from the hospital. She has been stuck with this bundle of joy ever since. Recently, Laura has been handling this very well. Maybe that is because we no longer share a bathroom. Most of my time is spent in classes because I am double majoring in biochemistry and music. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, napping, reading, playing French horn, and spending time with friends.

About a week ago, Laura and I were Skyping. She asked what her blog should be about. I jokingly told her to write about her wonderful little sister. Surprisingly, she obliged! However, that was after she had the idea of having me become a guest writer. I will be responding to one of Laura’s previous blogs.


never-eat-alone-keith-ferrazzi-tahl-raz_mediumI had the opportunity to visit my sister, Laura, in Portland during spring break a couple weeks ago. We ate delicious food, relaxed in her apartment, and most importantly, we exchanged books. I traded The Fault in Our Stars by John Green for Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I have read through a large chunk. I blame my slow progress on the thought-provoking content.
After each chapter, I end up spending up to an hour contemplating what I read about. Never Eat Alone is about networking. I have been interested in networking for a long while. In high school, whenever I visited Laura at college, I would try my best to meet students and professors around her campus. I learned the power of networking when I applied to colleges and interviewed for scholarships. Building trust and mutual respect got me where I am now, and I believe it will help me get to where I want to be in the future, along with hard work and dedication, of course.

Keith Ferrazzi’s networking examples mainly come from business, but they apply to all areas of life. The idea of weaving a web of contacts in social situations gives people a fallback when they need help. Nobody can get through obstacles alone. Sometimes friends, business contacts, and even acquaintances are needed to give people a boost up the ladder. Ferrazzi points out that successful relationships take effort and time even when help isn’t needed. Help cannot be expected without giving something of value in return. I’m not saying material possessions must be given. Things like knowledge and time are commonly valued more. Networking is something that should be given a high priority constantly.


I have already been putting some of Ferrazzi’s principles to the test. Spring quarter started at the beginning of this month, so I have been introducing myself to as many people as possible. Not only am I finding study buddies for multiple classes, but also I am making friends that could potentially last through college. I am meeting students in many departments. This has given me the chance to connect students who can benefit each other. For example, one of my friends is writing an article about the effect of campus construction on students with disabilities. I was able to connect her with another friend who makes the maps of construction route changes around campus.

I introduced myself to an USAF Colonel who was able to connect me with a flight surgeon. Now I am setting up a job shadow to learn about the job I hope to have in the future. So far, I have had nothing but good experiences from my networking efforts. Never Eat Alone gave me the motivation I need to go out of my way to build stronger, more meaningful relationships. I recommend this book to anybody who wants to learn methods for connecting with unfamiliar people.


Making Money versus Doing What You Love (or hopefully both)

Yesterday my boss asked me if I care about making money. The answer to that question is complicated—more than I can explain in five minutes on my way out of the office. Financial stability should be a huge consideration in choosing what career path to take. However, different people define financial stability in different ways.

Because I am a nerd, I will start by considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The base of Maslow’s pyramid, physiological needs, includes breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion. Once these basic needs have been met, the next category is safety, which deals with the security of physiological needs: health, employment, shelter, etc. Third is love/belonging. Fourth is “esteem,” which is defined by self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect by and for others. The tip-top of the pyramid is self-actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts.

One’s definition of financial stability depends on how much money one feels is necessary for meeting each level of needs. Most people can agree that money is necessary for meeting the needs described by the first two levels of the pyramid. People need money to buy food, rent or buy shelter, and go to the doctor and purchase medicine. Then, if one is planning on supporting a family and/or paying for social activities, money becomes important to meeting the third level of needs. Some people also believe that money is necessary to command respect. That covers the fourth level. Finally, money might become imperative to meeting self-actualization needs if giving money to charity seems beneficial, or one’s creative outlets include expensive hobbies such as travel, working on cars, participating in triathlons, etc.

From my point of view, money is extremely relevant to meeting the first two levels of needs; helpful, but not necessary, for fostering relationships through social activities (I’m not planning on starting a family in the near future); and not at all necessary for the fourth level of the pyramid. When we get to self-actualization, things get a little bit tricky.

In order to feel self-actualized, I feel that I need a job that will support my morals and fuel my creativity. If you read my blog from last week, you know that I don’t believe that seeking the kind of job I want bars me from making money. However, it will be a greater struggle to make a disposable income than it would be if I pursued something like medicine or finance.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, making six figures is not important to me. At this point, the prospect of a $30,000 salary seems exorbitant for supporting one twenty-something-year-old. As long as I can pay my rent and utilities, buy groceries, and go to a bar with friends every once in a while, then a job in the nonprofit sector seems more viable to me than a job in finance—even if I would be denying myself the ability to travel or buy expensive art supplies. In exchange, I would be supporting my mental and emotional health. Of course, if I could do what I love and make a lot of money, that wouldn’t be too bad either.

3-An Autobiography

Job Hunting 2.0

The third time that I knocked, someone finally answered the door. It was clear that he had just woken up. His lids drooped. Strands of long, black hair draped over his unshaven face.

“Hello?” he queried, rubbing his eyes and yawning.

“Hi!” I squeaked, turning chipper in the face of uncertainty. “I’m looking for Rick Gurney!”*

“Rick Gurney doesn’t live here.”

I glanced meaningfully at the small trashcan outside the door with a strip of masking tape labelled “Gurney” in black sharpie on its lid.

“He moved like three months ago,” he explained, Can you leave now? I want to crawl back in bed, written all over his face.

“Do you have his phone number?” I persisted.

“I don’t.”

“Oh. Okay. I was supposed to meet him for an interview. I guess I’ll find his phone number somewhere else. Bye!” A false smile nearly tore my face in two, at least until he disappeared back inside the house. “Shit,” I muttered, descending the porch.

That was the beginning of my fifth interview of the week–an interview for a Photo-marketer/Admin position with a  travel photographer based in Portland. I had found the job listing on Craig’s List a couple of days before and sent the poster a resume.

I have applied for approximately forty jobs in the last month, which have been, for the most part, jobs that I am sincerely interested in. There are actually a lot of people out there hiring for the kind of work that I want to do. However, there are also even more people out there applying for those jobs. Out of those forty or so job applications, I have received exactly three invitations to interview.

Now you might be thinking, wait a second. Didn’t she just say that she interviewed five times last week? Well, yeah. I had five interviews. But three of them were informational interviews.

What are informational interviews? Informational interviews are the best. They are so much more valuable than job interviews. Rather than answer questions about my strengths and weaknesses, and my qualifications and experiences, I got to listen to some talented and successful Lewis & Clark alumni tell me stories about their awesome career paths. I got recommendations for organizations to join and books to read, and tips on how to improve my resume and cover letters. I got told that networking is the best way to get a job. All of the women I spoke to had gotten the majority of their jobs by being generous and by receiving generosity from the people they made connections with. I came away from every one of these informational interviews glowing with excitement for my future career.

In contrast, I came away from every single job interview feeling nervy and uncomfortable and needing to go for a long run.

Thus, I have decided to change my strategy. I’m going to stop applying for jobs for a while. Instead, I am going to put my energy into strengthening my portfolio and meeting people. I am going to finish reading Never Eat Alone, then make a networking plan. I am going to listen to stories and learn new skills. I am going to make beautiful art and share it with people…

Being an adult is a lot more fun than I first thought.

P.S. If you want to talk about graphic design, or marketing, or writing, or blogging, or making art, or what have you, hit me up at Or, if you know someone else who would be interested in chatting, send them my way.

*Name changed.