Happy Grad: Kathryn Stephenson

  Age: 23 Graduation Date: 2012 Major: English and Art School: University of Oregon Current Position: Research Analyst  


Q: What was your biggest fear about leaving college and entering the “real world”?

My biggest fear was really two fears - the first, that I wouldn't find a job in a timely manner (to me, this meant within a few months). The second, that I would find a job, but it would be boring, limited, low pay, and irrelevant to anything I've ever wanted to do or studied in school.

Q: What five words would you use to explain your job search as a recent grad?

Tearful, frustrating, anxious, adventurous, and exciting.

Q: What is it about your situation now that makes you a happy grad?

I found a position within a few months that ended up paying just enough, in a field I never imagined I'd be in, where I learned so much about what I did/did not want to do. What makes me happy is that, somehow, I came out of the job search in a position that expanded my skills, grew new ones, and ultimately lead me to the position I am in currently. It's all about staying the course, being true to what you want, and being so very patient. Also, the industry I ended up going into was entry level recruiting and I was able to see how many recent grads were going through the exact same thing I was, and I was able to place them in positions that got them a foot in the door.

Q: What are the best things about your current role?

Currently, I work for an Executive Search firm, and I love that it combines my outgoing nature. I interview and talk to a lot of people everyday - and it also utilizes skills I earned in college. As an English major, I did a lot of research and writing, and my current position demands a lot of both! The difference being that there are no professors to edit my work.

Q: What advice would you give recent grads today about leaving college, and finding a career and life they love?

I have the immense good fortune of working with some incredibly successful, smart, and hard working people - and there are consistencies in their behavior I'd like to share. Firstly - they approach every situation as an opportunity, inside and outside of work. Whether they can see the "benefit" or not, they participate, they raise their hand, they ask questions, they listen, they learn. That retail gig you desperately want out of? Have you spoken to a regional manager to see what corporate opportunities might be available? That's how a successful person thinks. Not always "the grass is greener on the other side," but rather "the grass is greener where you water it." Secondly - they just work hard because they like what they do. It's simple. When you discover (tomorrow or 10 - 20 - 40 years from now) what satisfies you every day - you will do it better and work on it harder than anything else you've ever done. In the meantime, every job you have is a skill set to add to your resume so when you stumble upon your dream job, you'll be ready.

Q: What are some of the best things about being a recent grad?

The amazing thing about being a recent grad - besides no homework or finals - is that you finally get to throw yourself into the world and contribute to it full time. That, and you are a desirable asset, believe it or not. Hiring managers salivate over new grads because you truly bring value to the workplace. You bring your ability to absorb knowledge (you should have some practice after 16ish years of school), you bring your ambition, and you bring your curiosity. So, when you finally get "The Job," don't let those things go.

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