I figure I should take this time to tell you a little bit about me.
Like many of you, I majored in the impractical, but totally worthwhile, field of the Humanities. It wasn’t so much that I loved reading literature. In fact, I still complain about the costs it has had on my eyes (but I get to purchase cool Warby Parker glasses now!). Instead, I studied literature because it provided me with an excellent way of observing the world through a historical lens, while still approaching it from an abstraction.
After getting my degree in English and German literature, I immediately applied to graduate school with the naïve, but serious, intention of pursuing academics for the rest of my life. Indeed, I fetishized, like a teeny-bopper, walking around a sprawling courtyard holding my hastily annotated copy of Kafka’s Der Prozess. However, this dream quickly turned somewhat sour after I entered graduate school. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the readings or my peers, but rather the reality of attaining an academic position quickly became a Sisyphian endeavor.
WHAT DO I DO?
But it wasn’t until a month or two after defending my Master’s Thesis did I decide—not publicly, however!—to try and reposition myself for a life and career outside of academics. This began with spending hours trying to find the types of jobs I could do, writing and re-writing my resume and cover letter, drinking too many glasses of wine out of desperation, and anxiously checking my email to see if I had gotten any interviews. This process went on for about 3 months, and to no avail. Finally, I decided to apply for an unpaid internship at a start-up. And, lo-and-behold, I was able to get an unpaid internship in Community Management (I guess a Masters degree is worth something!).
Although the internship was unpaid,
it gave me great experience that I could put on my resume: creating interesting original content that would help engage our users to contribute their own content (turning our users from passive to active users), increasing our retention rate, managing the Twitter page and developing hashtag/analytics skills, as well as meeting certain KPIs. After I successfully completed the internship, I immediately updated my resume and cover letter, and for the first time I got an interview.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do too hot on my interview. Yet, I definitely took it as a learning experience. Furthermore, the interview helped to validate my skills that I had acquired during my time as a student and as an intern. (Check out this out for interview tips!)
When I moved to Germany, I continued applying to jobs, and just like before I received that dreaded email, “sorry, but we have decided to go with someone else,” all too often. Well, just like before, I decided to try and hone my craft through pro bono work.
By no means am I telling you that my approach is fool-proof. However, it seemed to work a bit. I posted to several specific subreddits, offering my services for free. More specifically, I clearly stated that I would work for free in order to gain experience, since this was a field I was very interested in working for. Plus, who doesn’t want free labor?
Not long after that I began “working”
for a few Indie Game developers. During that time I learned about some really great marketing strategies and software (everyone needs to check out Trello). This carried on for about 4 months, until one morning I woke up and was offered a free lance contract to do Community Management and Community Outreach. It might not seem like much, but I think any victory is a good thing. I went from having no experience whatsoever in the field, to now being a contractor. Furthermore, I’ve had several interviews since I began doing pro bono work, further validating my skills.
I am saying all of this because whenever I read peoples’ success stories, I feel inspired and don’t feel like a complete and utter failure. Indeed, majoring in the Humanities was still one of the best things I could have done. You just need to learn how to market the actual skills you have acquired for a business setting.
you have all the skills to get a great job. (something my mom would definitely say).