A Grad Student’s Guide to Getting a Job–Part 1: Stuff
by Sarah G. Sunu -- February 15th, 2014

A big part of why many of us wound up here at the Nic School is because we wanted a job, and grad school was what we needed to get us there. Some of us realized that we needed different skills to do what we wanted to do, some of us needed a few more letters after our names to get a foot in the door, and some of us were hoping to wait out the scary job market. And of course, there’s always D.) all of the above.

But, ultimately we can’t stay in school forever and will eventually need something to pay the bills with (the barter system doesn’t seem to cut it these days). Graduation is just around the corner, and “So, what are you doing next?” is the question we hear most. I can’t tell you yet what I’m doing next, because I don’t know, but here’s what I’m doing to get ready for what I’m doing next. I hope it’s helpful, and gives you some ideas!


1. Business Cards

shellI have business cards that I designed myself. They turned out nicely, if I do say so, and have a couple of extras that I thought I’d share with you: the address of my personal website (more on this shortly), a QR code that leads to my website for smart phone QR apps, and a piece of artwork that I drew on the back. I’m hoping the artwork will set me apart a little and help people remember me, and that it’s attractive enough that even if people don’t remember me, they’ll hang on to it—after all, no one wants to think of their business card going into the recycling!

That being said, think long and hard about what image you’re trying to project if you design your own card. My first design included an attempt to create a personal logo, and it was very abstract and confusing. It was supposed to be a pen with a drop of ink, and the globe suspended in the drop; I was trying to express that I’m interested in visual art and mapping, but people thought I was coating the world in oil, or maybe injecting it with something—apparently the pen looked a little like a syringe. So that went out the window in favor of the shell!

Tip from friends: If you’re making a personal business card, make sure that the contact info you put on it will remain relevant for as long as you plan to hand them out–some schools will close your student email account after graduation, so you might want to create a personal professional one that will last as long as you want it to.

2. Personal Website

A good friend of mine highly recommended that I create a personal website to curate my projects and online persona (and suggested the QR code on my business card). It took a while to get the site to the point where I was happy with it, but I do think it’s a really good idea, particularly if you do visual things (for me, photography and illustration) and have professional pieces that are hosted online (this blog; articles I’ve written for the Nic School).


It’s a convenient way for people to get more information about you. Do practice web safety though, and be aware of the information you’re putting out there!

You can check out my website here: http://sarahgsunu.com/

3. Clothes

I just bought my first suit, with two pieces that match and everything! It’s washable wool, which means I don’t have to worry about dry cleaning (both the cost and chemicals). “Dress for Success” and “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” are both common phrases now, but I like to go with what my dad has always told me, “Dress like your boss and you’ll never be under-dressed” (the entertainment industry may be an exception to this).

What are your top tips?


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