KAUSHAL VADDIRAJ – Look At The Big Picture

Kaushal, based in San Francisco, works as an Analyst at NERA Economic Consulting. His story reminds us of one important thing: When it comes to job search, don’t put too much pressure on yourself!

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I find it difficult to say that my time finding a job was extremely hard. Sure, I must have written over a hundred cover letters and filled out twice as many applications, but ultimately it was all done with reasonable comfort sitting in my room. I must have attended a dozen career fairs and another half a dozen industry conferences to network, but these were hard work in the utmost comfort. However, as I sit down to think about each of the experiences that went into the collective effort for me to land a job, from rewriting cover letters and resumes, to the networking sessions, to the barrage of rejection letters, I am partly amazed I didn’t have a mental breakdown. Indeed, what many people on a daily basis go through in this job search process can be demoralizing, and self-esteem shattering.

So, to the question, how did I land a job? Honestly, I am still grappling with the fact that I will be starting my job soon and so I haven’t spent much time analyzing the “why me?” question. I doubt I can shed light on some new mantra that will land anyone a job. Also, since I have only ever got one job offer, I consider myself more experienced at handling rejections. To that extent, I will share what helped me handle the rejections.

  1. Part of what made this phase that much easier for me to go through was the company of a close group of friends and the constant support of my family. Don’t hesitate to rely on friends and family for moral support.
  2. Don’t over analyze things. Move on. (This is definitely much easier said or written than done, so a conscious effort must be made) Much time is wasted in thinking a lot about why one wasn’t selected. Sure some self-introspection helps, but over-doing it gets one depressed and that isn’t the frame of mind conducive to good applications.
  3. Look at the big picture. And again it is very easy to say it, but looking beyond this temporary phase of your life allows you to get the processes right. For example, if your short-term goal is to get a job, don’t be blinded to your long-term prospects in desperation.

I have been in the US for close to six years now, and for a large part of it I have known that getting a job out of my area of interests would not keep me happy for long. At the end of my undergraduate studies in Florida, I had a couple of offers for jobs in sales that I knew I would not be happy doing. Thankfully, I had alternatives and one of the better decisions I have made in my life was jumping for my graduate studies in economics. I was able to better hone my skills and work under some incredible professors and with excellent peers.

A mentor I was fortunate to be assigned to in my freshman year in college, told me that while it matters what institution you are part of, it matters much more what you make of it. I have since then utilized whatever opportunities were available to me to travel, meet new people and take up leadership roles. My chance for an internship last summer at a data analytics firm came through a connection I made as a Resident Assistant (a position many of my friends thought was taking away from my social life) during my undergrad years. That internship provided me with the opportunity to develop hard skills that I was able to utilize in projects at school and consequently helped land my current job at an economic consulting firm.

Similarly, I made every effort to travel on scholarships and grants. I don’t know if they had any direct impact on landing a job, but having some interesting experiences outside of the norm helps with the conversations(especially if you’re not one who enjoys small talk). It also helped going to industry conferences such as the NABE (National Association for Business Economics) Annual Meeting and the NABE Policy Conference, not only to build a network but to help me understand how these professional think.

To conclude, I don’t think I did anything special to land a job. I was lucky to a certain extent and am grateful for all the help I could get. However, it did boil down to being consistent and persistent with the applications in addition to being honest to oneself.

I wish everyone still looking the best of luck and hope that this temporary lull in your career will not dampen your spirits.

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