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The Polichick: Treat Your Job Search Like a Political Campaign

I feel as though I’m in an incredibly weird, twilight zone place as I enter my final college semester. For so many years it seemed like school would never end. To be twenty-two and only a few months away from graduating from college was an abstract, intangible thought. It was over winter break that I edged closer and closer down the hypothetical diving board above a pool called the real world. I’m not at the point yet where my toes feel like their curling in apprehension with nothing but water below, but I’d say my stomachs is beginning to knot with fears like what if my bikini bottoms fall off? Or more realistically, what if I’m not ready? Sooner rather than later, I know some sneaky kid called Time is going to come behind me and give the board a big ol’ bounce.

Then it’s bombs away. It’s not sink or swim, though. It’s swan dive or cannonball. It’s front flip or jack knife, baby. Go nuts.

There’s always a splash.

For anybody who’s not yet a senior, you will know this feeling eventually. And for anybody who has made the plunge, you remember. But it’s the moment before the actual jump that is most unnerving: what do you want do when it’s just up to you?

Over break, every adult I ran into – at dinner parties, at the gym, on the phone – asked what I was planning on doing after graduation. At first, I responded with wit, but it got to the point where I wiggled my way around facing this question. Namely, I did is by avoiding interactions with adults, even family members, at all costs. (I know the Career Planning Center would rap my knuckles for not jumping at the opportunity to network, but so be it.) I found myself in a borderline panic attack about not having a job, living at home, and what was worse, not knowing where my passion might be. I was desperate with stress, which is a major no-no as that feeling is only allowed during exams.

Then, a breakthrough. No, it was not a job, but a casual phone conversation with a family friend’s relative who happens to be a Bowdoin Alum. What she had to say was honest and stabilizing, to a degree:

“Your dream job? Well, you won’t get it as your first job. However, what you need to do is run your job search like a political campaign. You will find a job.”

A political campaign. Light bulb. Suddenly the pre-bounces on that diving board were beginning to feel a little bit better. Make your job hunt a run for the office.

First, you need to make the campaign platform one that is impressive, confident, and communicative. You have to be appealing but not flashy, bold but not cocky, funny but not crass. Your platform is what you grab people’s attention with and eventually win over voters with.

Second, you go on the campaign trail. Think about it – pundits are already talking about the election in 2012 – wait, they were talking about the 2012 election back in 2008, but no matter. So, not only is the lesson to start early, but also to be ready for a marathon. State by state, speech by speech, the candidates race to the first Tuesday in November for what will be their destiny: winning or losing.

Third, don’t lose the faith. Take into consideration how nobody wants to vote for a candidate who becomes a negative Nancy. Although Hillary Clinton let loose some tears before the New Hampshire primary to win it, she did not end up with the ticket to the big dance. In fact, part of the reason that so many people are not fond of politicians is because they have to be constantly on their game – ready for any photo, any question, anything that might open any door to get just one step ahead.

Yes, a campaign is competitive and grueling, but that is the attitude and approach those on the brink of the real-world or a summer internship need to have. Be a candidate looking to win. And if you lose, run for something new. And resolve to win it the next time.

So, love the pre-dive jitters as much as you can. Smile through it. Ignore nay-sayers and negative thoughts. It’s what all winning candidates do.

Want more career advice from Her Campus? Check out these other helpul articles:

  1. Resume Don’ts for College Students
  2. What to Wear and What to Bring to and Interview
  3. The BEST Cover Letter Ever: How to Write It and Write It RIGHT
  4. How to Get the Perfect Recommendation Letter
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