By Diane Hess
I’m a college senior and just had my first interview. My interviewer asked me to call back in two weeks. He knows that I will not graduate for another month, and he said he is not in a rush since I have not graduated yet. Is this good or bad? Also, does one bad answer overshadow all of your good ones?
Answer: Your question reminds me of a scene from the movie Swingers. The lead character, played by Vince Vaughn, turns to a friend and says: “You know, I used to wait two days to call anybody, but now it’s like everyone in town waits two days. So I think three days is kind of money.”
One of the many frustrating things about a job search — and I have been in your shoes — is that it is always a bigger deal to you than it is to anyone else. Nobody ever seems to respond quickly enough or with enough enthusiasm.
But rest assured. At this stage, no news is good news, says Rose Kopec, associate director of the career center at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Take it as a good sign that your interviewer asked you to contact him, she says.
Others agree. “It is often standard procedure for an employer to ask you to get back in touch with him or her in two weeks,” says Gwendolyn Joyce Tyler, director of career services at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. “Moreover, the company is looking to fill the job with the best candidate and may run the risk of losing him or her if it decides to wait too long.”
As for your second question, one muffed answer in an interview — especially if the others are good — is not a big deal. “If you realize during the interview that you missed something, be sure to ask for an opportunity to correct yourself or answer more thoroughly,” says Ms. Tyler. “And remember to back up your statements with concrete examples.”
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance a week ago. I was a math tutor for a year and worked for the chairperson of the finance department at the University of Texas at Tyler for a year. I’m thinking of taking the Chartered Financial Analyst exam in June. Do you have any suggestions about what careers I could pursue with my little job experience if I pass the CFA exam? I’m 24 years old.
– Anne Palmer, Tyler, Texas
Anne: The CFA certification is a good idea if you are interested in a job in financial management. But it also will require a great deal of time and preparation.
The exam, which is given in three parts, covers accounting, economics, securities analysis, financial markets and instruments, corporate finance, asset valuation and portfolio management.
While work experience is not required to take the exam, you will need four years of work experience to become certified.
A quarter of CFA graduates are employed by the mutual-fund industry, according to Robert Johnson, managing director of the CFA Institute. The rest have jobs at major banks, consultant firms, foundations, endowments, pension funds, private-equity firms and hedge funds.
“The CFA program prepares people to think analytically,” says Mr. Johnson. “There are sundry employment opportunities out there.”
Are there any search firms that work with new college graduates? I am interested in the magazine field and have had four internships at well-known titles in New York City.
— Julie Carter, New London, Conn.
Julie: An important rule in journalism is to know your source. It appears that you may be overlooking some very useful ones, namely the people for whom you worked during your internships.
In exchange for the jobs that you performed at these places, it is not too much to ask for some of their time. “Get back in touch with these people, and ask them for a couple of minutes,” says Laurel Touby, founder of a career and community Web site for media professionals.
One way to reconnect, Ms. Touby suggests, is to write a letter explaining that you would like to discuss a magazine career. “Make the conversation about them at the beginning, and ask how they got their foot in the door,” she says. Once you have their attention, solicit some advice for yourself — either over the phone or better yet in person.
You might ask if there is anyone else to whom they can introduce you. Before you finish the conversation, be sure to let them know that you plan to follow up with an update on your search. “These connections are the foundation of your future,” says Ms. Touby. “And they are better and more valuable than any headhunter.”
While there are niche search firms that specialize in the media industry, these firms typically work with only experienced professionals rather than entry-level candidates. You might try contacting some of the bigger staffing firms, but be prepared to find out that magazines aren’t a focus for them. “We have definitely placed people in the past in publishing,” says Lisa Tagliapietra, a spokeswoman for Manpower Inc., a large employment services firm. “It is something we can do, but it’s not a huge part of our business.”