Beginning a job search may feel daunting, whether it’s the first time for a recent college graduate or a mid-career transition for a more experienced professional. Once you’ve begun the process and narrowed down your search to a target profession or company, you’re likely to ask, “How do I get my 'in'?”

Conversations with University of Northern Colorado alumni Liz Ota Cheng '02 and Ryan Galitz '07 help answer that question for anyone beginning their search, moving to a new community, or who may be exploring a new career path.

Liz is a human resources professional working in Honolulu, HI. Her HR experience has touched numerous industries ranging from insurance, hospitality and now engineering and construction management. Hawaii is home to more than 1,000 UNC alumni, due in large part to the longstanding recruitment pipeline of Hawaii high school students who attend UNC then return home to begin their careers. But even with local and family ties, finding your “in” especially during a challenging labor market takes time and effort.

Most professions, including HR, offer an association or membership organization. Often these organizations are national, and some may even have on-campus ties to current student groups. Liz encourages recent graduates to start with the local affiliated chapter or club of your respective organization.

Through a quick Google, LinkedIn or Facebook search, you are likely to find an organization or association aligned to your profession or professional interests. And many of these organizations are heavily oriented toward networking through events, conferences and meetings.

While in-person events are less common during the pandemic, you should search for virtual and online networking opportunities. Virtual networking events are becoming more common and provide an easy introduction to professional circuits and networks in your area. It is likely that the local chapter of your professional association is offering virtual programs, and some may even be tailored to recent graduations and young professionals.

💡 TIP: Don’t see an upcoming virtual event listed for the organization? Reach out to the association contact, ask about upcoming networking opportunities and take the initiative help plan event if one is not schedule. Google Meet, Facebook Rooms and Zoom are among the software programs that offer free options perfect to help you host a virtual meet-up or networking event.

Ryan, like Liz, came to UNC from out of state. A self-described introvert and corporate recruiter came to UNC from Portland, OR knowing what he wanted to do or having personal connections. Ryan encourages recent graduates to “get in where you fit in” because he knows that the first career step is not final step and unlikely to be a candidate’s dream job right out of college.

And while taking that first step may seem hard, the same hustle that UNC students like Ryan use to get through college, can help in starting a career. “The hard times, no matter how difficult, will always give you something to learn.”

💡 Tip: Treat UNC as the starting point in building your professional network. Your UNC classmates, faculty and staff are all connections that you take with you when you graduate. Now add in alumni who are willing to help you begin your career and it’s clear that your network has far more reach than the borders of campus. Learn how to use, leverage and put this network to work through alumni ondemand virtual events.

And while putting in the hard work and seeking organizational connections are important steps in the process to getting your “in,” both Liz and Ryan stress patience and persistence.

“Don’t get discouraged, it will always take time [to find a job],” says Liz. “Stay positive and be focused. Use this time to prepare and practice interviewing and volunteering.”

“There’s good news and there is bad news,” says Ryan. “The good news is that there’s a way out of this. The bad news is that it’s straight on through.”

But don’t worry or get overwhelmed. You are not alone in this process. UNC recent graduates have the benefit of the Center for Career Readiness, where they can discuss career exploration and plans with a professional career counselor. Recent graduates retain full access to the center’s services for three years following graduation. And alumni who graduated more than three years ago, have the support of the UNC Office of Alumni Relations who can advise and facilitate connections to other alumni professionals, including those who successfully transitioned careers later in life. Visit alumni.unco.edu/careers for information and resources to support your job search.

Current Opportunities

Ryan Galitz is the Director of Talent Acquisition with global technology company Intrado. The company has openings available for entry-level and experienced professionals, with several positions located at the company's Longmont, CO offices.

Visit www.intrado.com/careers for a current listing opportunities.

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