I only applied to 2 graduate programs. I just knew I was going to get into both and receive assistantship offers, scholarships, gold medals, hugs...LOL
I got accepted into FIU, but I needed an assistantship to be able to afford the tuition. I went and interviewed for 4 different positions. I remember hearing others excited about getting offers and accepting. I watched my email in pity for weeks, as I pictured all of the amazing people I met enjoy the experience without me. I also did not get accepted into the other school.
I decided to reach out to the graduate program director to explain how much I wanted to attend the school, and I was open to any opportunity for an assistantship. There was only 1 opening available. I reached out to the supervisor, and I wrote a long emotional email to express my interest in the position and the university. After a few interviews, I was able to secure that assistantship and regain my excitement for grad school. I ended up loving that job by the way, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Only after first humbling myself and realizing that nothing is owed to me.
If you have found yourself in this situation or a similar one, here are some strategies to get you back on the right track:
Find somewhere to volunteer that will give you relevant work experience. You won't get paid, but you aren't really getting paid without a job either. This will also show your passion for the work that you do because you were willing to do it for free. Even if you can’t find something directly related to your career path, volunteering will help keep you productive. It may also make you feel better than just sitting around waiting for something to happen for you.
Create your own internship. For example, let's say you want to be a social media manager for a record label. Try asking a local radio station, recording studio, band, or artist if you can run their social media pages for a few months. Or, maybe you want to work in human resources. Find local non-profit organizations to see if you can serve in a volunteer coordinator role. That could give you experience on onboarding new “employees” and potentially some supervision. Employers will be impressed that you took initiative and control over your career. Take a look at one of my previous articles, “Can’t Find an Internship? Create Your Own!”
Re-evaluate your job search strategy, if you have one. If not, create one. If you are using the "spray and pray" strategy (video game reference) by sending hundreds of resumes out each month, it may be time to try something different. You will also want to understand how Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) work, but that is still not the only way to approach job searching. Try going old school. Visit the company in person, pick up the phone and call the office, or reach out to your school’s alumni relations office. Or try going new school. Develop an online portfolio to send to employers or reach out to employers via LinkedIn. Use those social media “creeping” skills to find people who work at companies that interest you and land a job, instead of finding out who is dating who. I’ve done it too…