Friday, March 4, 2011

Applying is Terrifying

by Jonathon Baron, CAPS Marketing Assistant

We’ve covered a lot of information about applying for jobs and internships on this blog, and we’ve talked about the stress that goes along with the process.

No argument there. I’m a senior entering my last quarter here, and while I’ve found a professional niche that I now want to enter, I've also found that it doesn’t make the application process any less terrifying. I have to support myself next year, but I also want a job that I will actually enjoy. So I’m worried about all of the variables that go along with the search: that I’ve misjudged aspects of my application, that I’ll be rejected after getting my hopes up, or that I’ll miss possible opportunities because I haven’t extended my range far enough.

What can I do to reduce the anxiety? I've gotten advice about broadening my search, that I should network to the utmost and send resumes to as many employers as possible in order to maximize my chances of finding a job—-and one that is a good fit, at that. But I’ve put some thought to this, and I wonder if, at a certain point, it’s actually more useful advice to loosen up, let go, and place your faith in yourself to find what’s right for you through a narrower scope.

It’s tough to be graduating and to not know what you’re doing next year, and we’ve been trained for four years in working hard for the right results. Plus, UChicago does a fantastic job of introducing willing students to a large network of alumni (the Alumni Careers Network), and providing information and advising regarding employment. CAPS even provides on-campus recruiting (OCR) for UChicago students, and has a massive database of interested employers, looking for all kinds of people to hire in the Chicago Career Connection (CCC).

These are all fantastic resources. But because there’s such a wide range of information and assistance available to University of Chicago students, it can start to seem like sorting out the mass of information in front of you is even more stressful than sending in the applications. Even if you’ve narrowed your job search to one industry, and you’re only looking at employers in a single city, you’d be stunned when you notice the still enormous number of possibilities open to you.

So here’s my two cents, and you can take it or leave it: strike a balance. Try to put things into perspective. You can’t do everything. The resources at your fingertips are there to assist you, not to make the application process more complicated. If you start to feel overloaded, take a step back and take a breather. Don’t just go to CAPS to get the names of more employers or alumni to talk to—ask for advice on how to preserve your sanity while you continue your search. That’s part of the process, after all. You shouldn’t limit your search and bank on possibilities that could go south and leave you stranded come June. But you’re only human (even if you are a soon-to-be University of Chicago graduate—congratulations), and it’s more productive to develop a clear strategy for your job search than to overextend yourself and go crazy in the process.