Derek Steffen recently graduated from college, and like many college grads, he found himself in the middle of his first major job search. Derek has lots of actionable advice for new college grads. Before he landed his first job, Derek had to wrap up his internship, connect with his network, and overcome the frustrations all job seekers face when confronted with rejection. Derek credits his successful and quick job search to networking, which played a major role in how Derek found his current job. Read Derek’s job search success story to discover how he stayed motivated, maintained his persistence, and got his foot-in-the-door as a new college grad.
What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?
I work for Two Rivers Marketing in Des Moines, Iowa. At Two Rivers Marketing, I’m on the digital team, though I mainly support two of our clients: Bobcat and Doosan.
As a social media coordinator, I do a lot of the back-end work that goes into our social efforts (I, quite literally, coordinate social media). I work with our internal teams to assign jobs, set due dates, oversee the workflow from first to final draft, route copy through editorial, and schedule our posts month-by-month. I also do community management on social media, which involves moderating the discussion in the comments section of posts, responding to direct messages, and keeping an eye on the total engagement of each post to report back to the team on what types of content are performing best for our audience on each channel.
How long did it take you to find this job?
I understand this is far from normal, but it didn’t take me long to find this position. I just graduated from the University of Iowa in May, and had an internship at FleishmanHillard in Kansas City from May through August. I started looking for full-time positions in my home state of Iowa the month before my internship in Kansas City was slated to end. Two weeks before I finished my internship, I applied at Two Rivers Marketing. The Monday after I wrapped up my internship, I interviewed for my current job, and they offered me the position later that week. All in all, I spent about an hour per night every night for a few weeks before finding my job at Two Rivers Marketing.
How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?
I spent quite some time searching job sites for open positions. Although cold-applying for positions online generated quite a few job leads, I struggled to get past the proverbial “foot-in-the-door” stage of the job search process. I wound up finding this job thanks to the power of networking. I utilized LinkedIn to message communications professionals in the Des Moines area, one of who was an alumna of the college I attended. She encouraged me to apply for my current job, and acted as an internal reference during the initial stages of the interview process. Networking was a huge driving factor in landing my current job.
What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?
I’d say the most difficult part of my job search was keeping myself from getting frustrated. After sending out dozens of custom-crafted resumes and cover letters, only to wait for weeks to find out I didn’t even get an interview (or, worse yet, not hearing back at all), it was difficult to stay motivated to go through that that over and over. It may sound cliche, but the power of will allowed me to overcome that challenge. At the end of the day, I was more motivated to find a job I loved than I was frustrated by the process, so I was able to prevail.
What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?
Don’t give up. Giving up is the easiest thing you can do, but it won’t get you anywhere if you want to land a dream job. If you truly want to make a change and secure a position you truly love, you can’t settle. You have to go get it — relentlessly.
Why do you love your job?
I love my job for two reasons: my role on my team and the people I work with. Digital and social media marketing is my passion, and I was lucky enough to land a job in that industry while also finding a company with an amazing culture.