Hello U.S.A. | The Race to That First Job

If I had to choose one word to describe our freshmen class at Tufts, I would choose ‘ambitious.’ This past Friday, there was a seminar for first-years to learn about building an appropriate yet professional resume and cover letter, and went over the process of how to go about finding internships. This event started at the irksome hour of 9:00AM. Think about it: it’s a Friday morning and there is an event that is due to start at 9:00AM, with breakfast served early at 8:30AM. How many people do you expect to show up? The question isn’t so difficult considering how college kids even go out of their way to not have classes on Fridays. But this particular event had over 100 students sign up. I told you, our class is ambitious.

It never really dawned on me that the purpose of college is basically to find a job. You take all these classes, participate in all these clubs, and attend all these seminars and talks just to prepare yourself with all the knowledge, street smarts, and connections you need to get a job. Read that carefully: a job. All this work goes into finding your ‘first’ job. After that first job, I bet no one would even bother learning about half of your extracurricular activities in your freshman year; rather, they care about your performance in the real world. I’m not saying this to devalue all the work people are doing currently, but it’s also a way of thinking that helps put things into perspective, and also makes me realize how small I am in comparison to the professional world out there.

Anyways, now going back to that first-year seminar. All these freshmen in one room brought an inspiring energy to the morning. Everyone had his or her pens and papers ready to take note of any wise-sounding advice. I’ve never seen people so awake this early in the morning in a college context (however, I suspect the endless supply of bagels, cream cheese, donuts, Cheez-Its, and Goldfish had something to do with it). It wasn’t intimidating, but interesting to see how much we each cared about that first job we were tirelessly working towards. It makes me think about how this pathway of reaching an end goal will never reach a destination, as our end goal will change from first job, to first promotion, to first house, and soon we climb the hierarchy to success.

The first exercise in this seminar was to classify ourselves as artists, investigators, realists, enterprisers, etc. It was as if someone had screamed ‘ready, set, go!’ because once we were unleashed, people ran to the ends of the room to label themselves in these six categories. I fit none of them perfectly, yet there was no category for that. The presenters comprised and asked us to rank the top three categories we associated ourselves with. I ranked my top six. This was supposed to give us a clue about who we are and what types of jobs were compatible with our personality types. Does this mean I am fit for all types of jobs? Or am I fit for none? This seminar had started off wonderfully.

We then had a crash-course on how to build a proper resume and write an appropriate cover letter that will pass the 30-second test. Everything we learned in high school in terms of writing a paper literally flew out the window. I loved the one quote the presenter had: “There are three times in life where it’s fine for you to present yourself in the best possible way: the resume, the cover letter, and the interview.” So, all our hard work in college had to be documented in the first two for our first job. When I looked back on my resume for applying to college, I realized that I had committed quite possibly all of the top resume faux pas there are. How I wish this seminar were hosted last semester before we had to worry about applying for internships.

I know this post has nothing to do with “Hello U.S.A.,” but it fits very nicely with the college theme of “Hello Life” or “Hello Jobs. ”It’s a long way to our first job, but we are already given a head start four-years in advance. Oh boy, is college going to be fun.