Stefan Walz (’16) shares his lessons on how to job search and have fun

I came out of school with a career doing exactly what I set my heart on and that is something for which I am grateful. I am the Videographer/Multimedia Producer for GoTriangle, the local transit company for the triangle area of North Carolina. I make promotional video content that encourages people to take a new mode of transportation such as the bus, vanpools, carpools, biking, or walking.  I work with a great team that allows for a lot of creative collaboration and simultaneous freedoms and I love every aspect of my job. However, looking back, I wish I had approached the job search differently.

In May 2016, I graduated from UNCA with a degree in New Media and concentrations in video art and interactive web/design. I was still recovering from my last semester of college and attempting to grasp the fact that after 18 years of education, I was finally done with that chapter of my life.  I made an agreement with myself upon graduating that I could slack off and just have fun for a few months. Throughout the summer following graduation, I went on adventures to new and old places, visiting  friends and having a blast. I had completely pushed the idea of looking for jobs or writing applications to the side.  This was a mistake.

I realize now that it is possible to have fun while simultaneously writing cover letters, completing applications, and actively job searching.  During my trips, I could have easily looked at job sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Beyond or requested informational interviews with people in my field. I vastly recommend that you engage in informational interviews because you can learn a great deal by asking questions and gaining insights about your career options and your future that you wouldn’t normally think of.  It also gives you great practice and confidence in an interview setting, making it that much easier when you are finally called in for a real job interview.

Informational interviewing also improves your network of contacts exponentially.  Every time you connect with a new person, you have the possibility of getting connected with their contacts and it grows from there.  You never know; it may lead to an eventual job offer or nice referral. I connected with and am still in contact with five people I met during informational interviews.  One of them even allowed me to shadow them on a video shoot and was incredibly encouraging in the process leading up to me getting my job.

My advice to students still in college; please, please build up your resume.  Most jobs have a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree in the field of interest.  It is your job as a college student to pursue internships or have an impressive portfolio made to showcase that you are above and beyond the competition.  It will give you great insights into what you will expect in the job field and looks so much better to employers come application time.