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Rewind to the end of April.
Each day there were a million things running through my mind. The most apparent thought that would never leave was “when will I get a job?” It would just circulate endlessly while I looked at the extensive to-do list in my planner. Oh, and not just any job, but a job across the country. New York was the destination, and it seemed like my dreams were just never going to happen. Although my parents were not thrilled with the aspect of myself moving across the country, I repeatedly told my Mom that she could not force me to fill out a job application pertaining to the area of the “Greater Minneapolis St. Paul Area.” I knew she felt a sense of satisfaction in the fact that I had filled out merely 100 job applications in New York, and was not securing any entry-level positions. But, I did not stop looking.
Things should be easy for a leader right?
Being one of six on the Retail Advisory Board, President of Fashion & Business, a founding member of the National Retail Federation Student Association on campus along with having a board position, being a mentor, and having a corporate retail internship with well known Kohl’s as a Merchant Analyst, I thought my resume would stand out.
In January reality hit. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities Retail Advisory Board generously found enough sponsors for us students to have sponsored trip to the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City. We were able to ask some very influential business people questions, and even sit down with them face-to-face at our tables. A few icons included Rebecca Minkoff, Mindy Grossman, Paul Gainer, Jean Chatzky, and Simon Sinek. There was also a career fair and I had this idea that I would fly home, have a job secured and be able to enjoy the second half of my last semester of school without the stress of looking for a job. There were 10 minutes before the career fair started, and booths were empty. Before the recruiters came out, I had to make one large decision, what company would I wait in line for first? With 700 other highly qualified students from elite schools, and distinctive scholarship recipients as my competition, I realized that this was going to be no walk in the park. My introductory line would need to be catchy as I had about 5 seconds to reel in a recruiter before they smiled and fakely took my resume– knowing the odds were slim that they would pick it back up from their pile. Interviews would take place the next two days, and this would be the time to secure one. I had previously interviewed online with HSN, and had an interview scheduled but was not crazy about Florida. After waiting in long lines, and talking until my jaw hurt, and feet felt as if they were going to bleed in my new heels, I had felt defeated. I spoke with a few New York based companies, but they either wanted fresh grads available to start ASAP, or I did not have enough experience for the position such as wholesale.
I ended up interviewing with Belk in North Carolina, and HSN in St. Petersburg Florida. Thinking oh a job is a job, I went in with the mentality that I wanted either of those. Who was I fooling? No one. After the interviews, I realized New York was still where I wanted to be. Leaving everything and everyone I know for those companies just was not where I saw myself five years from now. After break ended and school started up again, I received an email from Ross Stores that they wanted to hold a phone interview. I was ecstatic to say the least. I never thought that leaving a paper resume at the NRF Big Show would ever result in anything. After 2 phone interviews, I received a third call that they would be going with another candidate for the Assistant Buyer role.
Back to square one.
For all the thousands of dollars that we pay to a Big 10 college, you would think that they would have stellar Career Services right? Although I loved my career counselor and spoke with her often, she really gave me no “insider edge.” Instead she just told me to go on LinkedIn, search for alumni in New York, and connect with them. The College of Design’s Advisory Board really did not have any inner connections to New York careers either. Being one of the six students on the board, I felt as if I had let the President and the Director down as I had not secured a job after the trip as they thought it would be an easy task for me. Although my minor was through the Carlson School of Business, I did not have access to their career services. I knew countless Carlson students that landed their dream jobs across the United States, and felt as if being a Retail Merchandising Major was going to get me nowhere without the big business school title on my resume.
Timing really is everything. So what ended up helping me in the end? What did I wish someone had told me months earlier?
It all worked out in the end.
In the midst of all of this, I not only was looking for a job amongst school and leadership positions, I was also looking for housing. As you cannot just secure a job but then have nowhere to live.
Thing started to fall into place. It was going to be myself, Taylor (attended the same school as me), Katy (attended FIT in NYC), and Ali (attended Baldwin Wallace in Cleveland). Four bedrooms with one bath was going to be a transition from having a townhome two-floor apartment with free wifi, cable, laundry, maintenance, my own large room and bathroom, etc etc. But, I was 100% willing to sacrifice space and half my wardrobe for this city in the fashion capital. THEN KATY LEFT. Due to family reasons, she did not believe she could stay in the city and did not want to risk it with us if she did have to end up leaving. I was panicked now that my Mom was going to back out as rent was going to go up with one less person. But, we bit the bullet and started looking at three bedrooms.
Plane Ticket Bought, Airbnb booked.
Ali could not come with us to apartment hunt as she had finals before us. Taylor and I flew out, and had the matter of 4 days to interview, apartment hunt, put in an application, and become approved for a place. It rained A LOT and people were trying to rip us off left and right. Brokers would cancel, and we were scared. We were telling places we could start work June 1st, and needed to move in around May 22nd. Needless to say, we also were getting lost left and right, and it was taking forever to subway all over Brooklyn trying to meet up with multiple brokers.
Long story short, we found an amazing broker (with a car) from Nooklyn.
His car literally saved us. We were able to go from place to place, and literally make a decision within hours as to where we wanted to live. Nooklyn was great because we could pick and choose any apartment on the site, and he was able to make a key and let us see it. The places were not exclusive to particular agents.
We put in the paperwork, had our Mom’s make a quick decision and send in their paperwork and then have the third roommate Ali do the same. (Again amazing she just went along with what we chose from Facetiming briefly and sending over a few images). Our last day there, we got a call. Looking at Taylor in anticipation, would the answer be yes? It was a YES. We went over to meet the landlord, as he had to approve of us, and we passed with flying colors.
Back in MN, still without a job.
I sadly put in my 2 weeks notice at Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, and realized how quickly everything was moving. I was frustrated as a few companies that I had wanted to meet with in New York were either too fully booked, or we ended up playing phone tag the whole time. I had multiple phone calls set up, a few interviews, and a Facetime interview. Half of these were thanks to meeting with a staffing agencies known as Atrium Staffing, Fourth Floor Fashion, and JBC Style. They are amazing at connecting you with retail jobs. Other connections I had made on my own through LinkedIn.
Hired on the spot!
I found out that the luxury beauty internship was paid, and was super thrilled (as many internships are unpaid in NYC). The position was for Visual Merchandising, and this is something that I wanted to explore. After being a merchandise analyst for a summer, staring at excel all day long and tiny spreadsheets was not my cup of tea. After speaking to my past experience, work ethic, leadership, and personality, I was hired on the spot. Smiling from ear to ear, my patience had finally paid off.