Students get into college, navigate the financial aid system, succeed in all of their classes, graduate, and expect to get a good job. Unfortunately, recently graduated students may have to take any job they can get while they pursue their dream of the “ideal” job.
Foster Care to Success alumna Francesca Weems knows from first-hand experience the challenges and rewards of the job search. She recently got a full-time position as a Sports Anchor/Reporter at Mississippi News Now (WLBT) in Jackson. This job is the result of a lengthy process that started during her sophomore year at the University of California-Berkeley. “My track and field coach got me in touch with people at ESPN. They were hosting a game and I helped out for that game. That opened up a bunch of doors! Half the battle in any business is who you know, not necessarily what you know. Going to school and getting good grades is very important, but it’s also about building relationships with the people around you. That’s eventually how you will get your job and that’s what I’ve learned completely first hand.”
After finishing her BA in Mass Communication, Francesca continued onto grad school and got a Master’s in education with the help of Foster Care to Success. She describes her reasons for getting this degree, “I knew that I wanted to be on air and I knew in reality that it was a very competitive field. I needed a back-up plan. Education in my opinion was perfect. It would still allow me to communicate with people and I thought I would teach mass communication in some format, should television not work out.”
Like all job seekers, Francesca faced her challenging periods. “There were definitely some hard times, because when I finished and got my Master’s, I was having problems finding education jobs and jobs on air. They weren’t hiring teachers. I sent out my reel to a bunch of people. Hundreds of stations and they also weren’t hiring. For about five months, I didn’t have a job. I got a little discouraged then slowly stuff started to pick up. I got a job at Comcast SportsNet.” Francesca’s path in television came through.
Tips from Francesca’s Job Search
- “I have had mentors in television for the past seven years, which have been critical in getting me to where I am today. Mentors understand the obstacles you face in careers because they have gone through them as well. They can help you navigate the job market and help you avoid the same pitfalls they encountered.”
- Go to conferences. Conferences can be especially useful if you fit into a specific group within a large industry. Francesca attended the conference for the National Association of Black Journalists. Many companies want to hire underrepresented groups. Conferences can open doors and help people create connections.
- Keep looking! “A lot of us don’t have the luxury of having a lot of money in savings. Cast a wide net, take that first job that comes along, and continue to search for the job in the field you want.”
- Follow your dreams. At least trying to make your dreams a reality is an essential part of living a life without regrets.