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#124: Addie Sorrell – They didn’t tell me the job hunt would be the hardest part of my career

Addie Sorrell

“Don’t get someone’s hopes up by saying the chances look really good. I’ve heard this so many times, and it makes it all the more disappointing and confusing when you’re turned down.”
Addie Sorrell, Student, Humber College

In 2006, I dropped out of tourism and travel to pursue my dream: music. I specialized in Music Business and Engineering at Fanshawe College in London, Ont., and the program was structured so well that it seemed I wouldn’t have any trouble finding a job.

The initial search was hard, and it took me a couple months of applications and e-mails before I finally landed an internship at a small music label in Toronto. It was a three-month internship with a chance for more work, I was told. So I packed up and moved to Toronto.

I worked a minimum of three days a week with no pay – more if we were hosting shows. The job started as cleaning rehearsal rooms, as well as the staff kitchen and (blegh) bathrooms. In the office, I would send out e-mail blasts, print contracts, and increase our Google AdSense rating (i.e., spamming the internet).

Eventually I was asked to start doing some commission work, which included researching bands and video editing. However, this small amount of pay was only for work I was doing outside office hours. When I was at work, I was to be doing the aforementioned duties.

Exactly three months later, I mentioned the idea of full-time work. My boss gave me a blank look and said, “This wasn’t an internship; this is the job. We pay you commission – that’s more than we’d ever give an intern. But keep up the good work!”

Two weeks later, I quit. I had spent three months of my life living in Toronto with no money and, apparently, not even so much as getting my foot in the door. I decided that I would never simultaneously have a diploma and clean someone else’s bathroom.

This is when it got hard. I applied for every job I could possibly find: music, office, retail, sales. Anything that would pay my rent so that I wouldn’t have to move back in with my parents and away from Toronto.

I had three interviews with a major electronics retailer during their holiday season, and they wouldn’t even hire me. A friend gave me a glowing recommendation for a job at a bookstore where I was competing with one other applicant – nothing. A marketing company interviewed me to do in-aisle sampling – zip. This was rock bottom. Three months after quitting, I was back with my family.

I spent an entire year unemployed with very few interviews. I applied for jobs in every city, a minimum of three per day. You can do the math on how many jobs I must have applied for, and still no one called.

Not only was my college education useless, but it seems I was, too; jobs that usually hire high school kids wouldn’t hire a two-time college graduate. I was stuck. It was a long and depressing year, and it never got better until a particularly desperate night in June, when I bit the bullet and applied to college programs for advertising. School is the one thing I was never rejected from.

Where I am now

I just finished my first year of Advertising Media Sales at Humber College, with honours. I chose advertising because it can be applied to so many fields and seems to always be a necessity for every successful company. For the past few months, I have been applying for summer internships in advertising and marketing departments all over the city. While I am currently waiting on a promising verdict from one company, it seems not much has changed. I only had two related interviews out of my dozens of applications, and I’ve run out of job listings. The main problem right now is that agencies want a graduate – someone who will be of use for more than just four months. I suppose this will be good news for me a year from now.

My recommendations for employers, schools and career centres

I chose my current program because it had an internship (a real one in writing!), and I feel like this is something that most schools should include. At the very least, I think there should be some workshop at the end of the year about how to job hunt, and maybe even provide some connections or services to assist with it. No one has taught me how to job hunt since high school.

Employers, don’t get someone’s hopes up by saying how much you love this particular candidate or how the chances look really good. I’ve heard this so many times, and it makes it all the more disappointing and confusing when you’re turned down.

My recommendations for students

You probably think that being rejected for more jobs than you can count will mean that, later on, you can just shrug off a failed interview or two. The fact is, it gets harder every time I get an e-mail saying I didn’t get it. I know everyone is probably telling you to remain positive and, while I can’t say I’ve done the same, I encourage it. It really isn’t personal and generally you’re competing with 15 other people for one little job. The odds are never in your favour, but that doesn’t mean you can just stop. You will never get the job you don’t apply to, and you can never fear that rejection.

Most of all, if you’re in school, be prepared for the job hunt to be the hardest part of your career. Most programs don’t tell you what it’ll be like and it can be such a shock if you really had no idea about this dog-eat-dog world.

This #StudentVoice belongs to:

Addie Sorrell
Advertising Media Sales student
Humber College

Music Business and Engineering
Fanshawe College

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