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Lauren interviews Maya about her first year after graduating college

The Financial Diet blog:

Lauren: Hi, it's Lauren from The Financial Diet and this is Maya 

Maya: Hi!

Lauren: Some of you might remember her as our editorial assistant and today we're going to be talking about something that a lot of people can relate to which is the first year post grad from college.

Maya: Right and as someone who did that fairly recently and didn't have what you would call a "real" job for the first while out of college, that's what we're going to be talking about.

Lauren: Yeah! So my first question for Maya is how long did you go without a "real" job and when I say real job although we don't really like that term here on TFD because all work is really valuable and all experience is valuable, but a lot of people think of that as having a, you know, like a full-time job with a salary and benefits.

Maya: So leading up to graduation, I'd say in the last four months of school, they really pushed the daunting, real career job, whatever you want to call it and it was a lot to handle. I feel like we were constantly applying and some of us, especially myself, with very little direction and that was really hard, so I'd say I spent about the first ten months out of school without that career job. 

Lauren: Okay, so my next question is how did you actually fill those ten months, what did you do for work?

Maya: Right, I actually liked my so we'll call part-time job so much that I stopped applying to those career jobs for awhile because again I wasn't really applying purposefully and that was part of the problem. And I did I think 3 things, I waited tables, I worked at a winery where I also started managing their social media, and I volunteered at a local cancer research center, and I worked up at the local hospital with that organization. 

Lauren: So did you work all these jobs concurrently?

Maya: Yeah, I did! I actually worked 7 days a week and I would say probably about 6-8 depending on the day. 

Lauren: So what would you say your tips are for making the most of that experience?

Maya: I would say specifically using your part-time jobs as a resume builder. It's something that really worked for me, so when I started I started working my winery job I would say in July-ish and I had really wanted to work at a winery and just like take advantage of the local area, but I also really wanted something that I could turn to other jobs I was applying for and say "Look I'm doing this cool thing right out of college." So I approached my boss saying that like I wanted to do a little more with social media, so I just asked if like there was more I could do. I wasn't volunteering and asking them to pay me more I was just saying like "While I'm standing here when there aren't customers, maybe I could do other stuff" and they let me sort of run their social media and it was a nice thing that they were willing to trust a 22 year old just to like do things with their brand.

Lauren: So can you tell me a little bit about any of the trade-offs you feel like you experienced because you didn't have a salary position? 

Maya: Yeah, I think one of the bigger ones is that I had to be very aware of how I was managing my money because I had a different number coming in every week. So in a way it's kind of like freelance and having a fluctuating income. I didn't have like "Oh, I'm bringing in $700 every single week" I had to sort of figure out like "Alright I've paid rent, I've saved this much, this is how much I have left over."

Lauren: So obviously everyone experiences stress and anxiety when it comes to work and work related issues, so did you ever feel like there was a point where you were really down about your situation that you were in and how did you handle that?

Maya: I think for me I spent so much unnecessary time feeling like I was behind everyone else. It was my constant worry that everyone else was moving to New York and I was still up state like not moving to New York and that was really the baseline and I think that so many people in their first post grad year feel that way. They feel like everybody else is doing something and they're supposed to be, whether they are still in their college town, which I was or whether they are living at home or whatever it is, you feel behind. But then I finally started my first career job if you'll have it. And what I realized, I started in their typical advertising entry level position, is that I'd say I was working with people in entry level roles from anywhere from like 22-30 because people switch careers, people do all sorts of things that mandate an entry level job in there 20s 30s even 40s. 

Lauren: So how did you actually find that first job, I mean, what techniques did you use and what were you actually doing in that first job?

Maya: I wanted an entry level ad job in either strategy or accounts and I got one in accounts and basically I had been connected with someone who worked at sort of a partner agency with the place I ended up working and they had handed my resume along and I'd applied to the 3 agencies and it was more beneficial for me because I had applied to countless jobs like this through portals and my success rate was so low and finally I had someone that was introducing me to an HR person 

Lauren: Like take a look at this candidate, which is helpful obviously yeah...

Maya: Exactly and I get that not everyone gets that lucky. I'm super fortunate I had a great alumni network and so I had someone pass it along. I'd interviewed for two different positions, I got the one in LA and I took it. I moved in 5 days. It was terrible.

Lauren: Ohh my gosh... wow! 

Maya: And in the actual job there I was, I mean I was an entry level account person so that's client management and things like that and I was sometimes working with clients on my own and sometimes sort of assisting my superiors and their client management. 

Lauren: So I understand that you actually didn't stay in that position for all that long and you ended up transferring back into freelance working style, so what was some of the reasons or what were some of the reasons for why you kind of left and decided to go back to the freelance working style. 

Maya: Right, I think that it's very important to know that I had a great job. I worked with great people, my boss was awesome. It truly was not what I wanted and it was really hard for me to find that out after I had moved across the country for this job that I was so sure I wanted. And so it was rough, you know! I had to figure out what a) I did want and then b) execute it while still working my jobs. So the last like 2-3 months at my job I was working full-time and producing like an article a day because I was trying to get people to pay me frantically. 

Lauren: So is there one piece of advise that you would give new grads who don't have jobs lined up?

Maya: Yeah, definitely! I would say for me something that was incredibly helpful was doing something entirely different, something that almost shocked my sense because the problem I ran into was I graduated and I thought I wanted to go into broadcast journalism... like most of my college career and then I took a very good internship in production at one point throughout college and I, it was an amazing internship and it was the crushing realization of like "Oh my god, what I have been studying for 4 years, not what I'm trying to go into"

Lauren: So kind of like being prepared to keep your options open and not feeling like you have to apply to, like, the thing you majored in?

Maya: Exactly and feeling like you can move outside your comfort zone and not have the major police come track you down, because like...

Lauren: "You didn't use that degree! We're gonna have to take you in! Like your registrar's office..."

Maya: If there is ever a police trying to arrest me I hope it's you! 

Together: *uncontrollable laughter*

Lauren: So thank you so much Maya for talking to us

Maya: Thank you!

Lauren: i think that you provided a ton of really valuable insight and I think our viewers will love it. So thanks for watching and don't forget to hit the subscribe button and go to for more. Bye!

Maya: Bye!