Just Out Of College? Do This Within 30 Days

Why turning the interview tables can help you land that job

Thoughts And Ideas
6 min readFeb 8, 2020


Courtesy qerja.com

Okay, the bells have stopped ringing, mom and dad are back to work after coming to the graduation ceremony. Friends have parted— save for meetups every now and then and some Facebook shout outs. The old stomping grounds are now someone else’s — juniors, sophomores, and incoming freshmen. You are no longer there. It’s over. It’s done. What’s next? Work, right?

We all know. The old world that college shields you from now stares you right in the face, asking you what you will do. Some of your friends may have landed jobs already before graduation day, some are working their internships still — hoping they get hired on full-time — and some still may have family connections that opens doors. But you have none of that; you have to figure it out on your own. You have to find your own way. You don’t have much help. But before you despair, let me say this: there’s hope.

Here’s something to think about and take action on in the next 30 days. It’s a way to take things into your own hands and help yourself.

Now to get a job, you definitely have to send out resumes, or hand them out physically to HR departments, right? But what if you changed things a bit, and thought outside the box? What if you did the unconventional thing?

Out of work

A few years ago, I suddenly found myself out of work and had time on my hands. I was a little worried at the time. But I knew I had to do something. What exactly I didn’t know — just something. But walking home one day I thought of a way to put the next 30 days to work by starting a project that gives me a chance to learn as much about businesses as possible while also putting me in front of people who I could help, or could help me.

With that in mind, I took another look at the things I loved, liked, are good at, and built a project around it. I designed a project of interviewing small business owners in my local community of Austin, TX.

I did this over 30 days (21-days, if you count the days that I was out and meeting people), and interviewed 10 business owners about their journeys as business owners, what their challenges were, and what makes them unique. When I started I didn’t know anyone of the owners, so I simply walked in, introduced myself and the rationale behind my project — chronicling the stories of small business owners in Austin, TX, learning from them, and sharing it on my blog — and asked for possible interview times with the owner. After that, I followed up to confirm the times and did the interviews.

Sure, some of them turned me down, but isn’t that what life is all about? But I committed myself to record all of the interviews and writing an article on a simple blog about everything that I’m learning through the project and promoting the companies online.

During one of my interviews, one of the owners, Matt Lacy of Cafe Java, after seeing my initiative, perseverance, general people skills, and showing him how I was documenting everything I was doing online, offered me an application to work for him. At the time, I had already made up my mind to do something else, or I would have taken it. We are friendly with each other now — and he mentions my tenacity — and I currently have relationships with all the owners I spoke to, something I didn’t have 30 days before.

What if I sat at home and did nothing? What if I sent out resumes online instead and hoped someone responded? I would have missed out on that opportunity, I will not be working on my writing skills nor my people skill, and I would definitely not have the lessons, the story nor the relationships I have now. And to help everyone involved and to share the lessons I picked up, I put it all in a book and published it. Another notch, something I never thought of when I started.

David Rogier

Alright, you may know him, or not. But David Rogier shared a story of how he found himself in your position sometime back too. Here’s how he handled it. David used an interview project to search for a job with a company he admired. Here it is in his own words:

After graduate school, I wanted to work in Product Management. I was super impressed by Evernote. I decided to show them what I could do. I focused on the new user onboarding experience. I interviewed 23 users about it, came up with a few ideas and wrote 10 slides about it. I emailed those to the CEO. He emailed me back in 30 mins and asked me to come in.

And he did this not once. At another time, he wanted to work for IDEO, and used it again:

Before I applied to IDEO (the revolutionary product design consultancy), I asked a former IDEO employee (the wonderful Emily Ma) what IDEO would perceive as my biggest weakness. Her answer: are you actually creative? I didn’t have a portfolio and I came from supply chain. Instead of filling out their application, I decided to make a book. I spent 10 hours in 4 different airport baggage claims, interviewed 23 people and put together a book on Snapfish about how I would improve baggage claims (the book). I got the internship.

Paper Vs. Action

Sure, I’m not saying this is a surefire way to land a job — anything can happen and situations could be different — but it’s a win-win on all fronts, and it’s a better way to introduce yourself to the company. Times are different now, and you have to be creative. And for you, you also get to show initiative and desire, while growing and challenging yourself at the same time. You never lose with initiative, growth, and experience.

And for a company, if you were the company owner or the recruitment manager and you had to make a choice between two people for a job, will you hire the person who just sent in a resume or the one who has shown initiative by going out there to add value to your company?

Some steps on how-to

How to do this? Make a list of companies or people that inspire you, that you’d like to really work for or learn from. After making that list, narrow it down to a top 3 or 5. With this top 3, figure out what they really do, and what some of their challenges are. Your job now is to figure out a way to show them how you can help them and then contact them to show it.

Or, if you’d rather interview business owners or other professionals to create contacts and relationships while showing what you can do, here’s a cheat sheet for you to start with. It simply organizes your game-plan for you and puts in the details you need.

(Note: All the names and numbers are not real — they are simply for demo purposes.)

Yet feel free to innovate on how you think you can best show initiative and value — many ways to skin a cat, right?

So again, congratulations on graduating — many, for poor reasons, don’t finish — and though you may not have much in terms of connections or job offers right now ( trust me, I have been there), the power to do something about it is always in your hands — you are one initiative away from making things better.

Ala, Maya Angelou, when nothing works, work.

Kingston Temanu, author of Get To Know Your Backyard Opportunity and the free eBook Start With A Story



Thoughts And Ideas

Founder @kilimanjaro, author of 2 books, and video game design/ programming instructor. Connect with/message me on twitter @kttemanu