The Paradox of Entry-Level Positions

The Baffling Experience of Finding that First Post- Grad Job

noun: paradox;

1. a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.

  • a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities(Google Define).

This sums up my experience with applying for entry-level positions and internships. After many rejections, the conclusion I have come to time and time again is “senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.” I am often left baffled as I get interviews and positive feedback from the positions for which I apply, but the dreaded day always seems to come when I get that e-mail that says some variation of the following:”Ultimately, I need to go with someone who has a bit more experience.”

What is contradictory about this whole process is: What does “more experience” even mean for an entry-level position? Another semester long internship, 3-5 years, a nobel prize? What is it and where can I get it? I am always left with the question: “How do I get more experience if you won’t let me?”

It is not as if I am sitting around, doing nothing; I am out in the world- volunteering at multiple not-for-profits, meeting with people in-person and online, and expanding my network daily. I am gaining experience. #postgradhustle

I also am not applying mindlessly and frantically to as many jobs as possible! Instead, I hand pick each job or internship I apply to with a lot of thought and care; I tailor each application I send out to the specific job description for which I am applying.

What is even more contradictory is that many of the rejection letters I have received start off by praising me, my ideas, or my work volunteering at the company, and then tell me that I don’t have the experience they are looking for. This is confusing & frustrating, because if they really liked me as much as they claim to, I feel they would have hired me by now. #toohardtoget


Internship Rejection Letters:

  • “It was so great to meet you last week! I loved hearing your ideas on….”
  • “I really enjoyed speaking with you about the position and thought you had some really good ideas in your homework, but…”

This one takes the cake:

Entry-Level Position Rejection Letter:

  • “I loved hearing about your past experience as well as the hopes you have for the impact that you will have in the future, and think you are going to do some great things both professionally and personally. I wanted to reach out to let you know that we are going to be moving forward with other candidates for the position. While we love the work you’ve done with us in the past, we do feel like we will need someone in this position that has [more experience]”

I want to encourage those currently hiring to take risks, take that leap- nothing and no one is ever perfectly ready. I understand hiring managers and companies want a proven track-record, but even that can prove to be an ineffective and unreliable means of projecting one’s future success. You could end up hiring someone with an amazing track-record, and three months down the line, said person does not work out or worse yet, is letting everyone else on the team down. So, what are you waiting for? Hire that fresh college graduate who is full of energy, innovative ideas, and still maintains an idealistic view of the world!

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