Name: Meredith Warren
College: University of Texas at Austin, May 2014 graduate
Company: Idea Grove
Place of residence: Dallas, Texas
Hobbies and interests: hanging out with family and friends, going to the lake
Q: Did you start college with a clear idea of what you wanted your major to be? If so, what did that look like and how did that change during your time in college?
A: I went into college as a public relations major and stayed with it the whole time. I picked up a business minor sophomore year, and I thought about changing my major a couple times but never went through with it. I love being around people, so even though I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated, I knew having a communication-based major was right for me.
Q: Can you walk me through the detailed step-by-step process that you went through to get your first job out of college?
A: I delayed the job search process as long as possible senior year, which I don’t recommend. I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to live. Choosing where you’re going to live definitely makes it easier. Once I decided to move to Dallas, I focused on jobs in Dallas. I looked through the job postings via UT’s career center, but most were in Austin. I also looked through postings on other job sites, but my best leads were through connections. Even if I didn’t know anyone at a company, I would send a personal email to the hiring manager or person taking resumes. I reached out to my network to be put in touch with family friends and friends of friends. I ended up coming across a position in real estate through my sorority, and it sounded interesting and different. I accepted the position in April, and began work at the end of June. However, I ended up realizing I just wasn’t passionate about my work a month or so in, and began looking for PR jobs. It’s common in the communications industry to take a full time internship before being hired, so I accepted an internship in August that lasted until December. Luckily, I loved the company and they offered me a full time position.
Q: What aspect of that process was most challenging or stressful for you? Looking back, what advice would you give to college students to make this aspect less challenging?
A: The entire process of finding positions was incredibly tiring and overwhelming, because it’s a process I’d never done before. I would recommend starting to network at the beginning of senior year, so you have plenty of time to turn casual coffee meetings and phone calls into actual job interviews. Plus, it gives you time to travel if you are looking at jobs in other cities. For me, the challenge of choosing to leave my first job after realizing my heart wasn’t in the work was difficult. However, I’m so glad I chose to find a position where I felt happy.
Q: What was the biggest adjustment or adjustments for you going from college to full-time employment?
A: The 9 to 5 grind is rough at first. You no longer have time during the day to run errands, exercise, or just take a nap. Adjusting to working for eight or nine hours each day doesn’t leave much time to get other things done. Also, moving at a fast pace for those eight hours is an adjustment. If you start to crash around one or two, you still have half a day of work left. Waking up early every morning is really different from two or three early morning a week for class.
Q: Do you have any advice for coping with these adjustments?
A: I would say getting into a regular sleeping routine on weekdays is the best favor you can do yourself. Wanting to curl up and nap under you desk at work is not a great feeling. Getting enough sleep every night means you’ll have more energy to get stuff done before or after work, plus you’ll make it through the day.
Q: Is there anything else about your college and career experience that you would like to add?
A: College flies by, so just enjoy every moment you can. Put yourself out there and have fun. There’s no other time in your life where you’ll have so much available at your fingertips and so many opportunities to make friends.