How COVID-19 Affected My Post-Grad Job Search
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How COVID-19 Affected My Post-Grad Job Search

A video on COVID-19 and how it has affected my life as a post-grad on the job hunt has been very requested, so here we are. 

Timeline

On March 13, I flew out to Texas. At this point, everyone thought the COVID virus was a joke and rumors were circulating…until it became a reality and hit the U.S. On March 15th, I went to the Kendra Scott flagship store in Austin and they closed down on March 16th, not to open again for months. I am grateful I got to see the KS flagship store because KS is what sparked my interest in Austin, Texas. Remember that this was the start of everything, before wearing masks everywhere was a thing, right when “crap hit the fan.” At this point, everything was still weird and surreal. 

On March 16th, I went to Magnolia Silos in Waco, the day they closed early and shut down due to COVID. If the dates varied at all, I wouldn’t have been able to see the Silos or the KS flagship store, so I’m very grateful that I got to see what I did. We were finishing up the evening in Waco, about to drive back to Dallas, when we got the email that senior year was canceled and we weren’t going back to school…that was a lot to process. I think this is really when the panic set in for me. It wasn’t until I got back to Atlanta and couldn’t leave my house that it all became a reality. 

We moved our flight back to Atlanta up two days as soon as we got back to Dallas on the night of March 16th. Thus, we flew home two days early because we feared that domestic flights were going to be banned. Also, it was hard to have fun when we found out school was canceled. On the morning of March 17, we went to Fort Worth before flying home—and everything was closed. I will link both of the Texas vlogs here— 1 and 2

When we flew over Atlanta, I was in shock. The city was a ghost town, unlike anything I’d ever seen. Before the Texas trip, I hadn’t been on a plane in three years and we planned the Texas trip months in advance. That night I had a mental breakdown and applied to over 200 jobs with the Easy Apply feature on LinkedIn. I had my first job interview on March 19th for a sales position and was hired on March 24th. Our start date for training got pushed back for months due to COVID. 

The week after Texas, I was supposed to fly to New York City (I’ve never been) but obviously COVID canceled that. On March 23rd, I had to go to my psychiatrist appointment virtually—not a fan. COVID worsened my anxiety and took a huge toll on my mental health. I was having about two mental breakdowns a week during quarantine, and now I may have one every few months. I was running twice a day to cope, and my mental health really hadn’t been that bad since high school—before I got treated in college.

On April 14th, I walked to a coffee shop to get iced coffee to-go and I remember this being a huge deal because I hadn’t been allowed to go anywhere or see anyone. On April 20th, I decided to move to Birmingham for Southern Living and to live with my best friend (since third grade), Taylor. Somewhere between March and May, ALL of the eight post-grad internships I was in the final stages of interviewing for got canceled because of COVID. These internships were with huge companies, where that is often the only way “in.” In most cases, you have to fight for PR and creative jobs. I had worked for this all of college, so this was a slap in a face.  

On May 16th, I went to Birmingham for the weekend and signed a lease to move there. In May, Birmingham was under a mask ordinance, and it has now been extended to October, so things are not looking good folks. On May 19th, I went to Chattanooga for a day trip and that was the first time I had been out for “fun” in months. On June 4th, I got a cocktail with Stephen at a rooftop bar in downtown Woodstock, and there were protesters for the civil rights movements below us. Amidst my mental breakdowns and a global pandemic, riots and protests were added to the mix.

On June 13th, I went to Charleston, South Carolina for a few days with my friend Ashlyn and the protests were still going on. Between March and July, I had four or five Charleston trips planned—before I moved out of Statesboro, Georgia. It was also ruled that we weren’t going to have a graduation ceremony at Georgia Southern around this time. I was sad because I didn’t get to say good-bye to my favorite professors and thank them. I really don’t like to talk about all of this because it upsets me…thus why it has taken me so long to make this video. 

On July 18th, I went back to Charleston for my birthday and about 10 of my favorite local businesses closed for good because of COVID—which was very sad. I moved to Birmingham on July 25th. 

Kendra Scott

I have been a fan of Kendra Scott since they opened their first Georgia store at Lenox Mall in Atlanta in 2014. I was ecstatic to shop in-store and because I no longer had to order online. All of my jewelry is from KS, and I will always support Kendra. It’s my dream to work in social media at the KS corporate office in Austin, Texas because I admire Kendra’s heart for cancer research. The company gives back to several cancer research organizations.

I love KS jewelry because it’s timeless and there’s something to suit everyone’s individual style. I love the way Kendra has built her company and her emphasis on giving back and “doing good.” The KS business model amazes me, as I have done a lot of research on their business structure. It started as a school report, and then I wrote a few case studies for the heck of it…

Kendra Scott lost her stepfather, Rob, to cancer around the time she opened her first business, The Hat Box. The Hat Box was a Hat Store designed to provide unique hats for women losing their hair due to their battle with cancer. Rob was able to see The Hat Box right before he passed and managed to say, “you do good,” showing Kendra that he was proud. “You do good” is the pillar of the KS brand. 

Kendra also lost one of her close friends to great cancer. I lost two of my close friends to cancer, once when I was five and again when I was 13. There are certain aspects of Kendra’s story that match up to my own story. Kendra is one of my biggest role models. I’ve been entrepreneurial with one side hustle after another since the day I popped out of the womb. YouTube really launched my social media career, which I started in ninth grade. Anyways, my ultimate dream job is to work in social media for KS.

Back in October, I went to an event at the KS Avalon store in Atlanta to meet Kendra, and I skipped all of my classes and drove 3.5 hours—I was not missing this. Kendra couldn’t make it because of a family emergency, but I did get to meet her right hand staff—key connections. While at this event, I met the staff and store manager and decided to work at KS Avalon as a sales associate for the holidays. I said I would never go back to retail, but KS is a different story and changed my mind. I loved it so much that I transferred to the Savannah store when I went back to school in January and worked there until COVID left me furloughed. 

I applied for the KS summer internship for the summer of 2019, and again in the summer of 2020. I got SO close this summer, but didn’t get the internship—they were canceled anyways due to COVID. Y’all…I wrote a 15—page report backed by research and really went all out, I tried. I found out I didn’t get it the first week of March and was pretty beat up about it, but kept going on the job hunt. 

THEN…Kendra was supposed to come to the Savannah store for a Kendra Gives Back event in April but it was canceled due to COVID. Then, I had a corporate office tour schedule at the KS Headquarters in Austin, Texas, but it was canceled due to COVID. I have gotten so close to meeting Kendra on so many occasions this past year, it really was an odd senior year—but my luck. I might move out to Austin, Texas in a year depending how my career is going in Birmingham.

Working in Social Media

If you want to work in social media, then take a lower paying role if you have to, while starting out. It’s better to do this and work your way up, rather than doing something you don’t enjoy. Eventually, you will have built your experience and worked your way up to your ideal salary. 

My dream job is to work in social media or copywriting for Kendra Scott or Southern Living, that’s really what I poured my heart into over this past year. 

Job Hunt

Since March, I have had over 150 interviews, after my other arrangements were canceled. On June 22nd, I accepted a position as a recruiter. I went to Birmingham a month before I moved there for a week for training—and the company didn’t cover my hotel nor travel expenses. I was paid $12 an hour for 24 hours of training, which didn’t even cover my hotel bill. This was the first red flag…then, I was told I was going to get full-time remote work for four weeks (160 hours of work), and I was given 40 hours of work total over a four-week period. I was told that I would start work the Monday after I moved in…until the Sunday after I moved in when I was asked to start Thursday because they were “busy.” We originally agreed on $12 an hour, and then I was told I’d be getting $200 per week, thus I quit. I quit my job on July 30th. 

Finally, on August 3rd, I had an interview with a local home store for a social media coordinator role, and this was a godsend. I accepted the position on August 10th—and yes I make more than $12 an hour, amen. I began my job search in August 2019 and had several leads until COVID, but you know how that went. After 365 days of searching, I am grateful to say I work two jobs—a part-time role and a full-time role that I love. 

On August 7th, I interviewed for a communications specialist role at a large corporate company and I “officially” start on September 7th. I work 60 hours a week in addition to my other side hustles. It’s a lot, but I like to be busy, especially during this time. 

Since posting this video, I started a full-time position with Shipt as a communications specialist. The culture at Shipt is unlike any corporate culture I’ve ever experienced and I aspire to work my way up to their content team. At this point in time, I don’t see myself leaving Birmingham after my lease is up in a year. I truly do love Birmingham!

xx, Daria

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