Why I love the job hunting process and why you should too…

Sipping my first mixed drink in the USA, devouring one of the best views in the world and feeling on top of the world — somewhat literally as I was sitting in ‘Windows on the World’ restaurant on top of the north tower of the World Trade Center, and thinking confidently…
“What kind of life do I want to create for myself?”
I don’t know if the naive confidence came from spending a few hours in NYC or my upbringing, but that night, I felt a sense of belonging that gave me the confidence to believe that I could create the life I wanted.
This was August of 2001, just a few weeks before our world changed forever. I didn’t know my courage to create the life I desired would be challenged soon.
I started my Master’s degree at Syracuse University just a few weeks before 9/11. Within a year, the regular job opportunities began vanishing.
Our seniors at school delayed their graduation as on-campus job offers were reduced from almost five to zero. By the time I was nearing graduation, the gloom and doom of this situation could be seen and heard throughout campus.
During this time, my professor Dr. Arvas suggested I apply for the Ph.D. program in antenna design. I was flattered, but I was very eager to gain some work experience and an opportunity to use my design skills.
He pointed out that it will be tough to get a job given the job market. I still don’t know what came over me at that moment, but the words that came out of my mouth were, “ Don’t worry, Dr. Arvas. Not only will I find a job, but I will also be offered multiple jobs, and I will choose the one I like.”
He looked surprised initially, but soon I saw the look of a proud teacher on his face. He wished me ‘good luck’ and challenged me to do it before the application deadline for the Ph.D. program.
Having someone I respect so much believe in me meant a lot, and I will always be grateful to him.
Within six weeks, I had three job interviews and two job offers. And the best part is these jobs were created for me! Here’s how I did it…
First, I changed my environment. I took ‘dress for the job you want’ to a whole new level. I graduated, quit my part-time student job, and moved to NYC with my childhood friend and her roommates. I paid half her monthly rent to keep me accountable and surrounded myself with people who already had jobs. I treated my job hunt like how they treated their jobs. I would job search only during office hours and would take evenings and weekends off. This was very important to maintaining my well-being during this process.
So how does a fresh grad secure a job in a market where experienced engineers are being laid off every day? Given my skillsets and personality, what kind of job should I apply to? These were the questions I had, and no one around me knew the answers. So I decided to ask the people in the industry.
Instead of looking for companies with job openings, I began searching for companies that made exciting products that I wanted to work on. I looked up the company phone number and called them directly.
I would ask to speak to the director of engineering or the engineering manager, saying I needed career advice or had questions about their product design. Surprisingly, I would get connected to them directly.
I was genuinely curious about what job options are available for an Antenna design engineer. They would spend time explaining my choices and the career path each would lead to and share the story about their journey giving me precious career advice on what not to do! I would end the call by thanking them profusely for taking the time to help me, and they, in turn, asked me for my resume! Some would mention they don’t have an opening but will surely pass my resume to some of their friends in the industry.

Many complimented me on my courage to call directly, some advised me to stick to looking for a design job and not take up a test job, and some others said I have a great future because this exhibited my problem-solving skills. Overall, I was blown away by people’s generosity and encouragement, something I have made my mission to pass forward.

Soon I got two job offers, and I still do not know who forwarded my resume and recommended me to these companies. But I could choose a job I wanted in a market where I was told there are no jobs!
This experience dictated how I found all my future jobs, worked with global teams and met some of the fascinating people in the industry.
You learn a lot about the people you will work with and your future work/life balance even before accepting a job offer. This is very important for your well-being and your future career opportunities. You can choose the kind of work/life balance you want to create for yourself.
So what are you curious about?
Do you feel stuck in your career?
What kind of work/life balance do you want to create for yourself?
If you are going to think about it, I challenge you to think big. It all begins with a dream…

P.S. I did get a couple of NOs, but it was from less than 10% of the people I reached. It didn’t stop me. After all, NO stands for Next One. Keep going, my friend.

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