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Student Blogger: The long-distance job hunt

February 24, 2011

Irina Dykhne

It’s the middle of February. Snow piles have turned to puddles, the sun stays out past 3 p.m., and if you strain your ears, you might even hear the chirp of a stray bird in the buzz of Chicago traffic.

To some, these are sure signs that spring is coming. To me, they are sure signs that I have less and less time to secure a job before Northwestern hands me my graduation cap and sends me out the door.  For personal and financial reasons, my goal is to move back to Los Angeles, so my job search for entry-level marketing positions has been largely long-distance. Any job search is tough, but the long-distance search is a whole different creature.

In marketing, most employers — particularly smaller companies — tend to fill positions on an as-needed basis rather than hiring a large “class.” This means organizations can’t wait for me to graduate, nor do they know whether they’ll have spots in a few months. Connecting face-to-face with employers has also been challenging since I haven’t been able to fly out to L.A. for interviews, and most hiring managers are uncomfortable with phone interviews. Although Skype interviews seem to be gaining popularity, it’s also not ideal.

Because of these challenges, I’ve largely focused on researching companies I want to contact once I’m permanently back in L.A.. I’ve also done informational interviews with marketing professionals to become more knowledgeable about the field and expand my network of contacts. In general, building my network of connections has been my top priority. People are very willing to help college students, so I’ve found LinkedIn and the Northwestern alumni network to be great resources for advice and suggestions.

Because keeping track of names, contacts, and applications while managing the stress of uncertainty can become overwhelming, I’ve become very conscientious about keeping all the information that I need organized and together in one place. Neurotic organization can actually be very intrinsically rewarding: it’s solid proof that I’m approaching my job search seriously and aggressively. Staying systematic and organized has also helped me maintain my focus and, most importantly, my optimism in the often stressful long-distance and long-term search.

Have you ever tried hunting for a job or internship from across the country? What were some of your strategies? Share them in the comments below.

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