How Did You Get Your First Job Out Of College?

How did you find it? How many interviews? Was it stressful?
4 Answers
Chris Kolmar
Chris Kolmar. 4 jobs and ~30 people hired.
Written December 1, 2016

Getting your first job is “fun” and if you don’t come out the other end with stories, you’re probably not doing it right. I have several stories and learned a bunch on how to interview along the way. Here’s the rundown:

How I found my first job

My first job out of college was as an analyst at a litigation consultant firm in Los Angeles -- it’s as about as exciting as it sounds.

At the beginning of my senior year of college, I started searching for jobs through my college’s career website. I had basically no idea what I was doing so I applied to everything that had “Economics Major” in the criteria.

In total, based on the cover letters in my old college folder on my computer, I applied to 17 jobs ranging from teacher (at Teach for America) to an energy analyst for Southern California Gas.

I remember getting 4 interviews out of that and boy did I have a range of fun with those.

Random Thought: At the time, only getting 4 interviews out of 17 applications seemed kind of low to me. But looking back at it now, that’s a pretty solid ratio.

What my interviews were like

My first interview was with Analysis Group, a well respected litigation consulting firm. I learned that when the person interviewing you says she went to Princeton don’t respond with - “UGH”. Yea, didn’t get that one.

Then I had a phone interview with Teach for America. “What has been your biggest struggle in college?” Don’t answer with -- “I’m not going to bullshit you, college was easy.” I think I ended up getting an in person interview, but cancelled because I had another offer.

Ok, let’s call those my practice interviews where I learned you have to think for a second before you talk. And try to answer politically, not with the cold hard truth.

My next interview was with Freeman & Mills, the company that eventually hired me. I actually knew the first round interview guy because of my work as the statistician for the sports team on campus. We hit it off talking about basketball and I got to the second round interviews.

So second round, in person interviews are normally grueling, all day affairs. And it’s my experience, now having hired a lot of people, that your main goal here is to not f*ck up. They like you enough to call you in, just be yourself and come prepared. I’m pretty sure I managed to talk about game theory using an example from A Beautiful Mind, but phrased it poorly (Something something, get laid, something something).

Despite my inability to NOT say stupid stuff, I still got the job.

Additionally, I had an interview with Acumen around the same time, a consulting firm in the Bay Area. I did well enough on the phone interview to get an in person interview, but nothing notable happened there. I ended up cancelling the in person after getting a job offer. (Fun side note, I’d end up working there after my first job in order to be closer to my future wife in the Bay Area).

What I learned looking back on it all

So yea, I took my first offer, didn’t negotiate on salary, and only ended up trying to get a job for like a month.

Looking back on it, I probably should have started a bit earlier and tried to get more offers, and practiced my interviewing skills more. All that being said, it was 2009 in the middle of the recession, so I was just happy to be employed.

Written February 10, 2017

How I found my first job

My first job was as a Content Editor at an online real estate company in the Bay Area. I got it three months after I graduated. I found it on Indeed—I was a creative writing major in college and I was applying to pretty much anything that had “writer” or “editor” or something like that in the job description. I was living in Pennsylvania at the time, but I applied to jobs all over the country.

I probably applied to 50 jobs total and I think I got two interviews out of that, one with a company in Philadelphia (I made it to the second round on that one) and one with the company where I landed the job.

What my interviews were like

For the company that hired me, I had a couple of phone screens with the hiring manager and the director of the department. I also had a writing assignment. After that, they flew me out to the Bay Area for a round of in-person interviews with everyone on the marketing team, someone from HR, and the CEO.

When we talked about salary, I asked for a number $20,000 more than what they wanted to pay me. They told me they couldn’t pay me that much, but did bump up their offer by $5,000.

What I learned looking back on it all

Start broad, be flexible. I really think being open-minded and up for anything helped me find a job as quickly as I did. I applied for a wide range job titles—anything that was somewhat related to more core skill set (writing, communication, editing, etc).

If you can afford to pack everything up and move across the country for a job, do it. I knew a lot of friends who struggled to find a job for a few years after college because they stayed in their hometown.

Make use of your college’s resources. I was at the campus career services center once a week during my last semester in college. They gave me several rounds of feedback on my resume and cover letter. I really think that helped me stand out and it taught me a lot about the craft of producing application materials.

Bob. Econ Nerd.
Written December 2, 2016

Getting my first job was stressful, disappointing, and defeating.

How I found my first job

I walked in to the store, talked to the supervisor about applying, and applied through the company website.

What my interviews were like

Interviews went very well; the interviewer asked straightforward questions about my experience and my skills.

What I learned looking back on it all

I am grateful for the final outcome, but still bothered by the sheer number of companies that lacked the courtesy to even respond to my many applications.

Nick. 20 Years of experience.
Written December 2, 2016

Easy. Phone interview, in-person interview. They needed someone fast, and I wasn't an idiot, and I could push buttons on an MS-DOS enough that they figured I could handle it.

How I found my first job

Through a referral. My high school teacher referred me. She later regretted it :)

What my interviews were like

Easy. Basic questions.

What I learned looking back on it all

I thought I was cool. I was a senior in high school working at the newspaper.


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