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Job Search, Networking, Interviews, and Your First Job

"Get out of your comfort zone, because opportunities show up when you are willing to open up. This means stay open to industries or locations that you previously would have not considered."

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Explore the insights and advice from recent young alumni below.

Take advantage of the alumni network! The Alumni Association maintains a database of alumni who have signed up to be career advisers, and they are such an amazing resource to help you get a better understanding of what it’s actually like to work for their companies and can oftentimes provide invaluable referrals. ’16

Have an open mind. I ended up with a completely different job than I thought I would have, and I ended up loving it. ’16

If at all possible, send your resume directly to the person you would be working for! i.e., if you are applying for a research position, send your resume to the PI (IN ADDITION to sending it through the usual passages) if you can figure out who that would be. This shows them that a) you are so interested in the position that you would go out of your way and do an unnecessary step and b) you are a go–getter who will work hard to get things done. This little tip has helped me A LOT in my job search after college! ’16

Take every interview you’re offered, even if you don’t want the job. The practice in front of a real live interviewer is priceless, and you never know what the connections you make might lead to down the road. ’15

For business roles, job applications are a numbers game. Do not search for your 10 most perfect positions and apply to them alone. Cast a very wide net, apply to any and all jobs that pique your interest, even if they aren’t your dream role. You’ll be surprised where this approach takes you. ’18

Try to find a place with good people who want to help you grow. That is way more important than being just a name when you’re starting out. ’17

No one is really qualified for their first job; cast a wide net and plan to learn a lot in the first year. You might love something you never would have thought of in school, and you have to try it to find out. ’16

I knew I wanted to pursue public service and explore my interest in rural public health, and even after I lost my Peace Corps gig to the pandemic, I found a way to support a community domestically, and the need has been even greater due to events of the past year. Although it can often be difficult to divert from traditional paths, especially when it feels like everyone around you is pursuing the same few things, I think it’s important to try to listen to your gut. If you don’t take the time in your 20s to investigate all the different possible paths and things you might want to pursue, you’ll always regret it. You’ll always be able to level up and earn more money and have more prestige, so don’t be afraid to slum it, take a risk, and make sure you’ve thoroughly vetted all your passions. ’20

Go to career fairs and walk up to booths that you’ve never heard of. ’20

Get out of your comfort zone, because opportunities show up when you are willing to open up. This means stay open to industries or locations that you previously would have not considered. ’19

Browse through the Career Center openings! Additionally for pre-meds looking for gap-year experiences, check out HPAO listserv for job postings. ’19

Apply everywhere and get interview experience. Be picky once you get offers. ’20

Reach out to as many people and send the cold emails. It never hurts to make the connection, do the interview, offer to do the task no one else wants to do. ’20

I’d argue that an employer’s culture is the most important piece of the job search. You should feel empowered to have standards in the process! A great boss (and team) is invested in your growth, and you as a person, not just what you can produce. ’20

Be patient and reach out to people you, your family, or your friends may know in the industry you are interested in. Talk to as many people as possible—it will help you in your interviews and people are much more willing to help out than you may think. ’17

Vanderbilt provides so many options to help you on your job search. Attend as many as you can—job fairs, info sessions, etc. Do research on the companies beforehand if possible, and don’t be afraid to branch out to areas that might not meet your initial interests. ’16

Talk to people! Anyone from college friends to former project team members, to mentors to alumni you stumble upon on LinkedIn—these people can be valuable resources who can give you a great idea of what their jobs are like. ’17

Apply for any and all jobs that you’re interested in; don’t limit yourself to what it feels like everyone else around you is applying for. ’18

Waste as little time as possible doubting your abilities if the job search doesn’t go your way. Whether it takes you six weeks to land a gig or six months, own the process and stay confident even when it’s hard. ’16

Don’t be afraid to reach out to both current professors and alumni. I just landed my dream job by calling an alumna of my law school who was a former research assistant for one of my current professors. She put in a good word for me, even though we had never talked before, and I got an offer the next day! ’17

It’s better to design your resume individually based on the job you apply for rather than bombarding emails to every contact you can find. ’16

Make sure you like the culture, because you end up spending the most time here. ’17

Cast your net wide and be open to possibilities you had not initially considered. Your time at Vanderbilt has taught you an incredibly versatile set of skills that you can use to design your success in fields not directly related to your major. Prioritizing your definition of success and happiness sometimes means not following the path everyone else is going down. ’18

Set up job searches on all platforms with a bunch of fields and locations so that you get alerts for as many jobs as possible. ’21

Send thank you notes to recruiters and interviewers, especially if you didn’t get the job. It shows a lot of grace and tenacity to do this, and it shows that you care about your own personal development more than a job title or the prestige from a company’s name. It may also give you the opportunity to expand your professional network. Just because you didn’t get the job doesn’t mean you didn’t impress your interviewer or the recruiter you encountered. They may have another opportunity for you down the road if you keep in touch. ’21

Know yourself. Don’t apply for jobs that you do not want, spend time getting to know what you need/expect from a job and look there. Money isn’t everything either. ’18

Persistence, patience and recruiters. Large companies tend to have terrible online job portals. I have only ever heard back from small companies for unsolicited applications. For large companies, I only got interviews through recruiters and personal connections. ’18

Keep an open mind. Identify your strongest skills, skills you want to develop, and what type of work makes you happy. Look for jobs that take advantage of your current skill set, give you opportunities to expand/enhance your skill set, and allow you to do the type of work that makes you feel fulfilled. ’18

Leverage your network; it’s much easier to get a job through connections and mutual contacts than it is just randomly applying. Once you have experience and knowledge in a field and know more people in the industry, it’ll be much easier to get subsequent jobs after the first. Applying randomly can work fine, but find a way to stand out through your resume. ’17

Be open-minded about the roles you take on. Something might not be exactly what you want to do, but it might help you do that thing better, later on down the road. ’20

Leverage your internships. Try to get some personal projects to distinguish yourself from the pack. Don’t be afraid to go to a less prestigious company for your first job. Sometimes you can get much better opportunities for professional growth at smaller companies than you would at the flashiest “top tier” companies. ’17

You already went to a fancy school, so that’s a plus. But unless you have a 3.9–4.0 GPA, just plopping down Vandy on your resume won’t work on random forms you fill out online. You can fill out a dozen of those and get nowhere in most cases. The best way to get a job is to talk to someone. Companies come to career fairs here; make sure to stop by, get some emails, add some people on LinkedIn. Most people I know that found a job got it from some form of “oh my friend’s friend was moving out of a position, and told them about it, but they weren’t a great fit, but then they told me about it, and it turns out, I was a pretty good fit, so my friend got their friend to tell the employer about me, and I was able to talk to someone immediately, and I got the job.” I mean you’ll still have to fill out the online form, but after a real person has talked to you, they tend to trust you more. Oh, if you do get a job this way, make sure to do a good job, otherwise you’ve basically had your friend stick up for you, and you let them down in the eyes of the company. ’21 

Cast a wide net when applying to jobs, even if a particular job may not be exactly what you're looking for. This strategy will give you a lot of real interviewing practice so that by the time you get to interviewing for your top-choice company, you’re well seasoned in all of your typical interview questions. Also, you can use your backup offers to negotiate a higher salary at your dream job. ’20

If you know what city you would like to end up in, google “Best Places to Work in ____.” Most cities have a business journal that rank companies based on culture, salary and growth. This is how I found my firm in Dallas. ’14

Networking and personal connections are key. Don’t be afraid to ask anybody you know for an introduction because “cold call” application submissions are rarely reviewed that carefully. Be patient and focused. ’16

Find jobs that suit your personality and your interests. Avoid doing jobs that make you unhappy, but keep in mind that there is no perfect job. You will have to make compromises. ’17

Apply for positions with companies that currently have Vanderbilt grads or employees that you have a connection with, even through a friend of a friend. Knowing someone that can vouch for you can be really helpful in getting past the company’s phone screening and receiving an in–person interview. ’18

Apply several places and go where you feel like you have found a home. ’17

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Interviewing for jobs you’d never imagined could help you find the dream job you never knew you wanted or just give you some good interview practice. I interviewed for a tradeshow management role at a tech company on a whim and I have been there for two years! ’17

Everyone’s path begins differently; comparing yourself to others only makes you feel bad. Don’t be lazy about it, but don’t try to meet an impossible expectation, especially if it’s not right for you. ’15

Keep your options open and cast a wide net. You never know what opportunities are out there. ’14

The most important thing to know about networking is that everything is a networking opportunity. Whether you are on an airplane flying home, in line at Starbucks, or at a party, you never know whom you will meet or how they will be able to help you. Don’t wait for a formal networking event to make important connections! ’18

Remember kindness and keep a true interest in people. Networking can almost make us feel that we are “using” a person rather than allowing another person to help and assist us! Also remember to return the favor when you are able to by assisting and connecting others! ’15

Networking is not organic for everyone, but it’s necessary in today’s environment to ensure career mobility and advancement. If it’s not naturally your thing, practice with some friends and then attend some sort of networking activity so you don’t become nervous with a 1:1 coffee meeting. ’16

Be sure to have your address updated in the Vanderbilt alumni network. Chances are there are tons of cool events happening in your city. Just be sure to take the time to go to a few! ’16

I’ve actually made meaningful connections on flights and waiting in line for events. Organic conversations are important, especially because it feels less forced for both sides. ’16

Just be open to chatting with people. I got a freelance gig just from chatting to a girl I often sat near in a co-working space. She knew I was writing there, liked my passion and offered me a job freelancing when the opportunity came up. ’17

When talking to someone, try to find a personal connection you have with them and can capitalize on so they remember you and you remember them! ’17

I found that reaching out to the resources at Vanderbilt was the best way for me to network. All my life, I have consistently done my own research into particular jobs/programs. However, the faculty at Vanderbilt—especially those professors whom you have built a relationship with over the last four years—are, frankly, better than the internet. ’16

LinkedIn is huge, as is peer-to-peer networking within your chosen industry. I’m in manufacturing and while the industry is large monetarily, the manufacturing world is small; your reputation will precede you. ’17

Utilize the Vanderbilt alumni network! Referrals can get you in the door (and into an interview seat) at a company, and the best way to find referrals are through informational interviews. Invest in a LinkedIn Premium subscription, reach out to alums in cool positions at cool companies, and ask for 20 minutes of their time to speak on the phone about their position. Come from a place of genuine interest, and have questions ready! ’18

Showing up is half the battle. Even if you don’t feel up for it, force yourself to go to career fairs and recruiting events. At best you’ll walk out with a lead, and at worst you’ll walk out with more networking experience to make next time easier. ’18

I love the Vandy networking sessions, but a lot of cities have fun networking events that you can find through the Facebook events discover page! ’17

Just talk to people. Don’t worry about fitting a particular mold. But also remember you’re in a professional setting (I don’t know how many times I’ve seen otherwise very successful people make fools of themselves because they get sloppy at a reception). ’17

Put yourself out there. Get to know people by not just asking them about their work, but also what they’re interested in outside of work. ’18

Learn the distinction between peer networking and mentor networking. The first is for sharing experiences with people in similar situations, the latter is for learning how to grow and meet long-term goals. ’18

Do a structured LinkedIn stalk. Look for Vandy alumni, your high school alumni, people who worked at a company you interned with. It is much more likely for someone to get back to you if there is a point of natural connection. ’20

Volunteer work and participating in outside educational opportunities. ’17

In the science field, I’ve found the best way to network is through attending science seminars or social events. ’19

I do love LinkedIn! Perhaps it’s cliche, but it never hurts to reach out to strangers, and especially fellow alums. People love to talk about themselves and want to feel wanted and like their experiences and perspectives are valuable. Often folks are afraid to reach out and don’t want to feel burdensome or insincere, but in all honesty, most people are more than happy to leverage their privilege to help. The worst thing that can happen when you send a cold message or email is that someone won’t respond, but on the other side of the coin, being brave could lead to so much happiness and fulfillment in the future! I would just advise individuals to not be afraid and genuinely seek to learn from others’ lived experiences. ’20

Network is all about give and take. Be sure it’s not a one-sided relationship. ’17

Your Vandy peers and alumni are your best network! My first job out of college was at a company (and industry) I had not heard of but was the site of one of my Vandy friend’s summer internship. ’18

Talk to your professors, mentors, PIs, or anyone you worked for or with at Vanderbilt if you like the work you’ve done with them. ’19

Talk to friends and family. Everyone knows someone who could potentially be an asset. ’21

Because I graduated during COVID, I did a lot of my networking virtually. If you find a job title you think you might be interested in, find people with that title at the companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn and send them a personalized connection request asking for an informational interview or virtual coffee. In some cases, these requests can lead to job offers and/or significant mentor relationships. ’21

Quality over quantity. While widespread awareness of who people are is almost certainly helpful, I have found that deep, meaningful relationships generally lead to more relevant connections and opportunities. ’18

Go to networking events, Vandy-sponsored or not, and talk to people anywhere really about what they do. Anybody can be a connection. I once got an interview because my dad was Uber-driving a woman who worked for a company, and he told her I was looking for a job, and she gave him her info to give to me and we met up for coffee. Anybody can be a contact or potential lead! ’17

Join ERGs (employee resource groups) and interest groups. ’20

The same way you meet people in college: Take a class in something that interests you. Join sports groups. Theater groups. Go to social functions. Whatever it is, just put yourself in situations where the people you’d want to meet would be there too. ’18

People can tell when you’re being ungenuine. So, when you strike up conversation or reach out, be polite but don’t be superficial. ’20

I have not had much success using traditional networking approaches. My most valuable connections come from people I make friends with at work and share professional successes with. The important thing is to emphasize quality over quantity. Getting tons of new contact emails and LinkedIn connections from a networking event is not very useful if the people barely know you. ’17

Do you go to office hours? Probably not, because when I went to office hours I tended to be the only one there. If you weren’t already aware, most of the professors here have some industry connections. Those that do usually can’t resist mentioning the companies during lecture once or twice. If you have interest in those companies, be sure to show up and ask a bit about the company, then “do you think you could get me a job there?” Make sure to then do a decent job in that class, and you should have a good chance. ’21

LinkedIn and my Vanderbilt connections have been the most valuable. ’18

When someone gives you a contact’s email address and advises you reach out, the best subject line to use is “Referred By NAME HERE.” The recipient will see a name they know right off the bat and will be much more likely to open and respond to your email! ’14

VU Alumni events around the city! ’16/17

Be honest with yourself about who you are, what your needs are, and how you fit into the culture or mission of your desired industry. It is difficult to remember that the hiring process is a mutual interview. That is, you are also interviewing the potential place of employment to make sure that it is a good position for you and your life stage. To prepare, consider calling a trusted friend. ’17

Always email and say thank you––if anything, it will at least bring your name back to the front of their mind. ’17

Dress for success. Speak with confidence. Don’t come across as arrogant or entitled. ’17

Go over popular behavioral questions beforehand and practice out loud. ’20

I think the best thing you can do is be genuine. Especially for me, I want to not only give an honest impression of myself so as not to do my potential employer a disservice, but I also really want to know if the feeling is right. During interviews, if you don’t feel comfortable, happy, or secure, you won’t be confident or steady in the workplace either. In my opinion the most important factors in decision-making are the conversations I have with folks who are going to fill my days for the foreseeable future. Colleagues become family and you spend a lot of time with them, so don’t forget that you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you, and that you want to feel comfortable to ask questions, be challenged, and grow into yourself with that team. ’20

Watch YouTube videos on how to answer interview questions. There are plenty out there and they are mostly helpful. ’16

When answering a behavioral question, use STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result)—many companies evaluate your answers based on this model. ’20

It is extremely helpful and important to prepare a portfolio of your past work such as class projects, internship work, and even personal endeavors. It goes a long way to illustrate what you are capable of. Make sure the portfolio is visually pleasing and easily accessible. ’19

Prepare for standard interview questions (e.g., Tell me about yourself, Why X company or X school for grad school, etc.) and practice them, speaking out loud. Look spiffy but comfortable for your interviews! (Especially over Zoom, you can wear whatever bottoms you want.) Send a thank you note to follow up! ’19

Be yourself; don’t try to overcompensate. ’20

Look up common questions for that specific type of position. Find a way to frame your unrelated experiences to make them relevant. If you felt like it was a good fit, make sure to send a follow-up email saying so, and thanking the interviewers. ’18

You’ve worked hard to get into Vanderbilt and to graduate, so don’t slack off now. Prepare like you would for a test or big project. Study common questions and have answers ready. Research the company and have questions ready for them. Dress professionally even if not required. I would also follow up after and say thank you. ’16

Be consistent and communicate clearly. You are not the only one applying for the position, and it can be easy for your emails to get lost in the shuffle. Regardless of your GPA, the people that stand out in interviews are those who are poised, mature and show a desire to learn and grow. Being professional and amicable can take you a long way. ’18

Always send a thank you note. If you have only communicated with HR and don’t know how to send an email to your interviewer, ask HR and they can give you their email address or forward a note. ’17

At the end of case interviews, make the last question you ask, “How could I have done better?” This will reflect humility on your part, give you a window into the interviewer’s thoughts, and get some honest, critical feedback you can use for continued improvement. ’21

Be prepared for questions on basics of your field, and basics of the position they’re trying to fill. If you know what product you’d be working on, try to find relevant patents held by the company to get a feel for the skills they want to see. ’18

Study the company/organization. Come to the table with relevant questions. When talking about your background, it can be helpful to reframe your skills and experiences in the context of how your skills and experiences are assets to the company. Try to guess who will be on the interview committee and draw some sort of connection to them. (Maybe they are a Vanderbilt alumnus!) While this information may not come up in the interview, knowing something about an interviewer can help you feel more comfortable speaking with them. Take note of every person in your interview. Send them a “thank you” email within one day of the interview. ’18

Research the company, the role and stated requirements and duties, and discuss specific times you were able to demonstrate the qualities they are looking for in work or school in the past. Use Glassdoor to see any commonly asked interview questions. Research your interviewer if you know them, and see if you can find some sort of connection. ’17

Look up the company’s mission and make a story for how it aligns with your values. Be honest and be yourself! ’20

Better to overdress than underdress. Have an answer prepped for all the typical/cliche interview questions in case they ask. Work on your elevator pitch for yourself. Send a kind email later that night. ’18

Not everyone is going to like you—and that is OK! Do not take interviews that seem dry and unfruitful personally. Be a polished version of your authentic self, and an employer is sure to like you even if another does not. ’20

I think prepping for job interviews is best done over a longer period of time. I am a big procrastinator, so I would always grind right before interviews and feel burned out during them. Strangely, the interviews I performed best in were the ones I did not really care about, since I didn’t cram study time in beforehand. Make sure to relax before going into interviews. The interviews are not just about how well you can answer questions; it also includes your personal demeanor too! Use your interviews as a chance to interview your prospective manager/co-workers in reverse as well. ’17

Be confident, do your research on the job/ company, and prepare. Come up with answers to questions that may be asked and practice your answers out loud, not just in your head. ’17

Be honest—don’t lie about any answer because you’ll inevitably be called out on it. Also, be a REAL person. Whenever I interview people, one of my biggest questions is: “Can I really spend eight to 10 hours a day with this person?” ’16

Read up on the company, its products and services. Google any helpful interview tips. Anticipate questions and rehearse your answers. Always have something relevant to say about the role, the company and why you’re ready to take on the challenge. ’17

Practice with a friend. Ninety percent of the questions will be totally predictable, so write them out and practice with someone you trust to give honest feedback. ’17

I always have a couple of go-to questions that I like to ask at the end of an interview including: “How will the work I’ll be doing contribute to the organization’s mission?” Also, Google Alerts is a lifesaver if you want up to date news about the company/org you want to work at. ’16

Beyond preparing for questions they might ask you, consider a handful of inquiries to demonstrate your interest and to gain additional information about the position. You’re also reviewing the interviewer because the job/company/atmosphere ought to be a good fit for you as well. ’16

Do a lot of research on the company you’re interviewing with and on the industry. Be able to ask specific questions and understand the role that you are applying for. I totally underestimated how important this was in my job search. ’18

Practice being asked questions on the spot. You can’t seem nervous or fazed by attempts to stress you out. ’18

Never ever extend the truth. If they are asking for a skill you don’t have yet, don’t lie, but instead tell them what you are capable of offering and remind them you’re there to learn that new skill quickly. ’15

It’s always best practice to wear formal business attire for interviews, unless the interviewer explicitly says otherwise. ’18

Treat an interview like a conversation. Just as they are trying to see if you are a good fit for them, you should be trying to figure out if the company is a good fit for you. ’15

Reach out to people working at the company you are interested in. Especially reach out to those who are Vanderbilt alumni or familiar to you for any other reason. ’18

Wear what makes you feel most confident, while also staying professional—when you feel good, that carries over to your presentation and posture. You can adjust according to the industry after you learn more about the company. ’15

Be early. Don’t be on time. Early. Do some research about the company before you show up. Nothing’s worse than asking a question you can find the answer to on the homepage of their website. ’14

“Case Interview Secrets” by Victor Cheng. Read it, really practice the cases, and actively listen to the audio. As a STEM major I had no business experience, but this book made me case interview–ready, and led to quite a few job offers. ’15

Dress up for a phone interview. Even though they can’t see you, it will help you look and act the part. ’15

The first days at a new job are hard. Making an effort to learn names and greet people by name was so helpful in building support at work. Also, being willing to do the tasks that no one else wants to do and doing even those tasks well is so helpful. ’20

Full of nerves! I was nervous about making mistakes, but the truth is you will make a bunch. You have to, if you want to grow. Just be honest when you don’t have an answer and tell your team you’ll find one. Then find it! Be proactive. Be kind. Be authentic and be curious. ’17

The first three months of my job, I felt like I was floundering. Find someone, a co-worker, a person in a similar field, someone who can support you and give you advice because you will need it. ’16

Even in a fast-paced industry, it takes a little while to get in the hang of things. Don’t expect your first few months to be extremely glamorous. ’17

You’re never fully prepared until you’ve started. ’16/’17

Even though you may not be pulling all-nighters in the library, you will be waking up earlier and working all day. Don’t be surprised if you feel more tired than usual. There is no shame in going to bed by 9 p.m. each night. ’16

Don’t worry if you don’t have the routine down yet; it’ll all fall into place and a rhythm fairly quickly. ’16

A lot of change happened all at once. It’s important to remember that your personal life and responsibilities don’t pause to wait for you to transition into your new job. It can seem overwhelming but remember to take the time you need to stay grounded and take care of yourself. Your job will probably expect a lot from you as a new hire but being able to stay committed to your self-care can also show a great level of maturity that I found my supervisors respected. ’16

The first day was stressful—so much information to absorb, so many people to meet. I was tired for the first month, but eventually I got used to the workweek and waking up early. It took time, but after a few months, I felt like I was actually contributing. ’16

You will forget things and you will make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to admit that and ask for help. Your more experienced co-workers are usually more than happy to help you out. ’16

Onboarding will be difficult virtually; just make sure to communicate and make an effort to keep your camera on so you can make a deeper connection with those in your cohort and your manager(s). ’20

Orientation and training might seem overwhelming, but most of the time it is all a bunch of logistical stuff that you won’t actually do on a day-to-day basis. Use that time to get to know your co-workers. ’20

My first day teaching English was a whirlwind, as might be expected. I was abroad and living in a village where the dialect was completely unfamiliar to me. I was an outsider in many respects. However, with time I grew familiar with faces, if not mastering the dialect. Being flexible and open-minded with your experiences and reliable and friendly to people goes a long way. You also discover sides of yourself you never knew you had. It’s empowering and inspiring for students as well. ’19

I moved to a new city for my job and didn’t have anything other than work to do in the evenings, so figured “might as well keep working.” That was a choice that made for a really unhealthy (and absent) work-life balance. I came to learn that, even though my job reflected my values and I cared about it deeply, it was something I did to enable life; I work to live, not the other way around. ’20

You WILL feel lost. It is expected, and it’s OK. And it will go away. ’20

Be prepared to get the grunt work, but use it as an opportunity to show what you can do for your employer. ’19

So exciting! I moved to China right after I graduated early in December and would not change my decision at all. That job set me on a career track that I am still very happy to be on and led me to having some amazing adventures and experiences. ’18

In my experience, adjusting to a new job is always hard. It takes a few months to feel like you know what you’re doing at all. ’17

A smart person told me when I started my first job, “There’s a one-year cycle with every job. The first three months, there’s an adjustment, but then it’ll be smooth sailing. At about the six-month mark, you’ll hit a bump and feel like you’re dragging. At nine months, you’ll start to remember why you joined the company, and you’ll see the light again. At one year, you’ll be in a good place.” I’m at the six-month mark in a job I love, and this cycle still rings true. When you hit that point at your job, keep pushing. It will be worth it. ’21

I was fearful, respectful and generally quiet. I am becoming more myself every day in my job. ’18

Very nice. Lots of onboarding, lots of nervousness. It took about a month before they gave me “real” design work, then about six months of minor work before I was given major responsibilities. I moved across country for my first job, which held its own challenges especially with COVID. It is a lonely experience before you get established; try to maintain digital contact with friends and family. ’18              

Daunting but exciting! I felt like I didn't know anything, but I kept asking questions and was open to feedback. ’20

A lot of new information coming at you all at once. I found it helpful to keep a running list of topics, or even industry-specific phrases/words/acronyms that I looked up after I heard them. This helped me pick up on things in meetings and discussions with others. ’18

Very social. Most people just wanted to get to know me and see what I was about. Of course, I had to produce quality work, but mostly people were concerned with my personality. ’20

My first day/week/month was virtual, like most other ’20/’21 grads. I had one week of on-camera onboarding, followed by virtual trainings on my own while waiting to be staffed on a project. For your onboarding and first interaction with your day-to-day team, dress up a bit and be confident. If your first week or so is virtual, turn on your camera for that time. First impressions matter! You meet a lot of people during onboarding that you may not work directly with, so how you present and carry yourself during that time could be what they remember you by. ’20

The first week feels like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. Learn names as quickly as possible and don’t be afraid to ask for help! ’18

The first few weeks were kind of boring, honestly. It took me some time to get fully onboarded, so much of my first day/week were sitting around, playing on the laptop they gave me, and feeling awkward around the other employees. After a few months, however, I have made friends, feel more than comfortable in the office, and have enough responsibilities to get through the day. ’18

My first few months at my job have been crazy. I am so thankful that Vanderbilt prepared me the way that they did, but every day of “adulthood” is the most rigorous school that you’ll ever attend. ’16

I had no idea what I was doing, and you probably won’t either. That’s OK, as long as you ask for help. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure things out that my peers could have taught me in seconds. ’18

I was the only young graduate in a manufacturing environment, and it was a rude awakening. Be ready to help in any way, and don’t act “above” any assignment given to you. ’15