How to Prepare for your First "Career Specific" Job After Graduation
Ebonie is a freelance writer, journalist and communications specialist. She is a creative thinker with a keen eye for detail. She specializes in developing strong brand voice and can adapt content with ease. Her freelance work has appeared in a variety of lifestyle and news publications, including Elle Canada and FLARE.
Q: Tell us about yourself and how you ended up in journalism?
I’ve always known that I was good at writing. It was something that came easily to me and that I loved to do. I would sit at a desk all night and cry about math homework, but I could whip up an essay in like thirty minutes. Also growing up, whenever we would watch the news as a family, I would study the news anchors. I wished I could be like them. So, I decided to make a career out of it. I graduated last year from Carleton’s journalism program so I’m just at the beginning of my career and hoping for the best!
Q: What was the most significant thing you have done for your career advancement so far?
The best thing I did to advance my career was internships! In my third year of university I did an internship at Elle Canada, a fashion magazine and in fourth year I did and internship at Stiff, a communications agency. In both, I made so many valuable connections and also gained industry insight that I still use today. And, the internship that I completed in fourth year actually turned into a full-time job right after I graduated which was an absolute dream come true!
Q: What have been some insecurities or fears you faced coming out of university and into the “real world” and how did you overcome them?
I think everyone, including myself, struggles with lack of confidence sometimes. Honestly, I left school feeling super discouraged. I didn’t love the way classes were taught and I didn’t think I was a good writer. These insecurities definitely manifested themselves at my job too. At the beginning, I was so quiet at work because I had convinced myself that I was too inexperienced to be valuable. I didn’t think I had anything useful to say. As I started to become more comfortable with my colleagues and at work in general, these fears started to naturally dissipate. After a bit of time, I realized that my ideas were valid and that I had something to bring to the table. I’m still not confident all the time, but I definitely feel better than I did at the beginning. I had to remind myself that I got my job for a reason, that I’m smart and I have good ideas otherwise, I wouldn’t have been hired.
Q: What is your number one advice to landing your first “career specific” job after university?
I was super blessed to not really have to job hunt to land my first “career specific” job. Like I said, my second internship led to a job offer right after I graduated! But, in order to get my internships, I had to have a great resume that really stood out. My biggest piece of advice would be to invest time and energy into a stunning resume. It may be tedious, but It’s really going to help you out in the long-term. And don’t be afraid to deviate from convention. Use your resume to demonstrate your personality, interests and strengths. For example if you’re a creative, show that through designs and layouts. If you’re a good writer, show them by telling your life as a story that an employer will want to read. And always, always, always make sure there’s no spelling mistakes!
Q: What is your biggest advice for new graduates and international students?
Get LinkedIn—it’s so simple but it’s true! Even if you don’t have a lot of career experience, it’s a useful tool for networking. Beyond networking, LinkedIn also helps you to learn a lot about career and workplace culture. Reading posts and following certain accounts allows you to understand the vernacular of corporate culture which can be really intimidating to navigate if you have no previous experience. And of course, there’s a job search function on LinkedIn which saves a lot of time and energy when job hunting.
Q: In an article you wrote for Flare magazine around racism in the workplace you said "I'm a Black woman at the start of my career in media and I feel like giving up".
What is your advice for black women building a career in Canada?
Do not be ashamed of yourself and do not feel any pressure to change yourself to fit in! The right workplace will celebrate you for who you are. Also, connect and network with other Black women. In my experience, most Black women will go out of their way to support other POCs and to give advice on how they have succeeded thus far.