Remember to look past the job titles when applying for jobs after college
November 18, 2017
I got somewhat of a reality check about two weeks ago.
For the past few months, I’ve been attending networking event after networking event through multiple colleges and organizations, just to be proactive and get my name out there as a journalist.
While I am appreciative of these opportunities that Penn State provides, and am actually a fan of networking and connecting with other people, there is a problem with the way we tend to perceive the exchanges that take place.
It is our culture that when a student networks with professionals in the career they are aspiring for, the student idolizes that individual as the end goal — that individual becomes the definition of what it looks like to be successful in that particular field.
So if you meet the CEO of that company you could always see yourself working for, or the Editor-in-Chief of the publication you’ve always wanted to write for, consider this: people are more than their titles. And, sometimes, they are unfortunately even less than their titles.
About a month ago, I went to a conference where I got paired up with a mentor. At that conference, my mentor asked me about my aspirations, and I told him I would love to eventually work for National Public Radio.
He was nice enough to give me an email introduction to a contact he had at NPR so I could reach out and get my name known by at least one person who might see my application one day.
So, as soon as I got home from this conference, I wrote up an email to my mentor’s contact at NPR. I sent my resume and wrote about how much I admire NPR as well as all of my experience with podcasting, all in an attempt to build myself up to this man as a worthy candidate for NPR employment.
I heard back from him in a couple of days with a standard email saying to apply to the NPR internship, which I promptly told him I would definitely be doing.
Two week ago, I got an email from my mentor with a link to a news article saying NPR's Senior Vice President for News, Michael Oreskes, had been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace.
My mentor apologized for providing me with Oreskes’ contact information, and said had he known of the allegations, he would not have put me in touch with the man.
As I read my mentor’s email, chills went down my spine. It was in that moment that I realized a title like “Vice President for News” means nothing.
A job title doesn’t tell you if that person is a moral individual, or if they treat their employees well or if they’re working just as hard as, if not even harder than, everyone else on their team.
When we as students are trying to sell ourselves to the people in these companies with these big name titles, we have to remember there is a person behind that title. A person capable of amazing things, but also possibly a person capable of terrible things, and their title doesn’t tell us which one that individual has been up to.
Working for NPR is still my dream job — Oreskes by no means represents the whole company.
But I am going into the job search with a more clarified goal of what I’m looking for: not just the job title I want, but the work environment and the kind of people I want to be around.
The interview isn’t just for the employer to decide whether or not to hire us. It’s our chance to see if we like the way the business is being run for the job we’re applying to work for.
I’m not in any way, shape or form blaming the employees working under Oreskes for anything — there was no way they could’ve known beforehand what was going to happen to them in the workplace.
What I am saying though, for college students on the job hunt right now, is to remember to be observant. It’s okay to be selective about your workplace environment, because you’re going to be spending a lot of your time there.
So, remember to look past the job titles and the company’s description on their website, because there’s much more to understanding a person and a company. Don’t only get the best job for you, but the best work environment for you as well.