I was born and raised in a small town, but I always dreamt of moving to a big city to work with high profile clients. After graduating from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in advertising, I was equipped with everything I needed to know. I perfected my resume, received letters of recommendation, and racked up internship experience.
So how did I get here, working as a marketing coordinator in the same small town that I grew up?
I graduated from UF, moved out of my college apartment, put my possessions in storage, and I traveled out of Florida for a while. While traveling, I discovered which parts of advertising I found appealing and which ones I did not want to do for a living at all. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I received a phone call from a prestigious ad agency in Atlanta, Georgia asking me to interview with them. The company offered me the job without even glancing at my resume, and it was that pivotal moment where I decided whether I wanted to stay in my hometown of Gainesville, Florida. Through that experience, here’s my takeaway.
The Interview Process
Before you even finish your last final, the job hunt begins. Some graduates are overwhelmed and continue into graduate school, knowing that they need to further their education or delay real life for a few more years. Many decide that now is the time to put their diploma to work, considering it took four hectic, long, and sleepless years to get to where they are. Other grads move out of their college apartments and into their parents’ basements while they start their careers because entry-level salaries can be low, and the hours exhausting.
A handful of graduates told me that their job hunt was just as grueling as the years spent obtaining their diploma. It’s important to stay positive and prove to yourself and your future employer that you are ready and qualified. Every student knows how to prepare those cookie cutter answers to the general interview questions. Despite how irrelevant they may feel, you should use that opportunity to come up with a really poignant answer that can showcase the type of person you are and symbolize your work ethic.
From experience, if the interviewer only asks you general questions or doesn’t have an interest in reading your resume, the company probably won’t have interest in what you can bring to the table. Evaluate and listen to your gut.
marketing photo shoot for Trimark Properties
Finding the “Dream Job”
Everyone’s definition of a dream job is different, and rightly so. Some people prefer crunching numbers or directing a new commercial shoot, while some prefer working in a large group collaboratively or alone wearing headphones zoning in on the project at hand. You have to ask yourself what you really want out of a job. Before landing my job as marketing coordinator at in Gainesville, my friends and family would ask, “so, what’s your dream job?” Not unlike an interview question, I should’ve had something ready, but fell short of an answer. I don’t think anyone truly knows the answer to this question until they are out there figuring it out. With each day that you work, I believe you find a clearer vision of where you want to go in the workplace. Stay on track and be mindful.
After my interview with Trimark Properties, I had a clearer vision about where I could go while marketing luxury Gainesville apartments in my small town. I enjoy reaching out to students, giving them advice on dorms or apartments near UF, and any other life advice, remembering that I was in their shoes at one point, too.
I’m Glad I turned Down My First Job Offer
After turning down the job in Georgia, I applied for a marketing position–a field I had little experience in. I landed the job and went full force into my work. Every day is completely different and I wear many hats at the company. Some days I’m managing social media content or creating virtual tours of new floor plans, other days I’m working on the website redesign or sitting in on photo shoots for apartments near sorority row (as seen above).
Growing up in a small town is completely different than going to college in that small town, and even more different when you’re working in that same small town. I found that working for a small business, your voice is heard, and the environment is warm and friendly. In the end, you may know which direction you’re heading toward, but oftentimes you can tailspin and find yourself exactly where you didn’t think you wanted to be. Keep on trying different outlets and moving forward. Don’t forget, it’s all about perspective in the end.
Kate Kowalczk graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in advertising. She found her first job at in Gainesville, Florida, where she works as a marketing coordinator.