Our second spotlight comes from a student who has been out of school almost one year. Hopefully her story will help you understand what you can expect to go through immediately after graduation. And I’m sure she’d be happy to help refer you to someone who can help you LOOK the part of a well dressed professional!!
Stephanie Kovacs, UCF 13’, Bachelor’s in Business Management-HR Track
As I started my college career I really did not know what I wanted to do. I went to Valencia College where I was able to take different electives to explore all my options. After graduating with my associate degree, I transferred to UCF where I majored in Management with an emphasis in HR. Human Resources has a lot of different aspects and I really did not know which one I wanted to get into, but the College of Business had a variety of classes that I could take to explore my options and interests.
During my first semester at UCF I joined the Women’s Rowing team. I HIGHLY recommend getting involved while you are in college because you end up gaining a lot more out of it than what you expect; meeting new people, gaining different skills, and dong something extra. This helps you STAND OUT from the crowd. Believe it or not, because I joined the rowing team it helped me get to where I am today….an HR Administrator at Bloomingdales. There were three main things that I did that contributed to get me where I am today: networking, studying, and getting involved.
I guess one can say I have the worst luck, but one day that all changed. In November 2012 I was on a flight to New York and my flight was delayed. Frustrated as can be, I finally boarded the flight and the gentlemen sitting next to me offered to let me switch seats with his wife who was sitting in first class. At that time, I thought that was the best thing that could have happened to turn my crappy day around! After we landed, the gentlemen I had been conversing with during the whole flight told me he was the General Manager of North America for GE Transportation. On the spot he offered me an internship for the upcoming summer. That summer I worked for GE as an HR Intern working closely with two of their HR Managers. At this point I realized I needed more than one internship…I finally understood that if I wanted to get into the job market right after college, I would need experience in my field to help me stand out from the hundreds of other students that would be graduating.
Returning to UCF for my remaining 3 semesters, my Rowing coach told me about a position in the HR department for UCF Athletics. I volunteered with them until I graduated, and even though I had two internships under my belt, I still had no job offers. I was quite frustrated and did not understand why. Before I left UCF my manager Brian Reed, HRM of UCF Athletics, introduced me to Lonny Butcher from the College of Business offices. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to volunteer for Lonny at a couple of HR events where I was able to network and meet many HRM’s currently in the market. I reached out to one in particular through LinkedIn and even though he did not have a position I was interested in at the time I did ask him to keep me in his professional network.
I was actively job seeking on job boards and attending job fairs where I met several employers and had many leads. But I found what helped the most was networking! I accepted a position as an HR Coordinator specializing in Benefits. After working in that position for several months, I received an opportunity I could not pass up. I got a call from my LinkedIn contact, Michael Steinberg the HRM I met seven months ago at an event I helped Lonny with; and here I am today in my current role with Bloomingdales. I plan on gaining as much experience as I can in my current role and obtaining a higher level position in the next couple years. I also intend to get my PHR and/or obtaining my Master’s degree. Getting my Bachelor’s degree and gaining some experience while I was in college has help to build a strong foundation for my future. But I cannot stress enough how important it is to have experience in your field.
If you take anything away from my story, take away this: you will never know who you’re going to meet or when. Always be professional and presentable because at the end of the day hard work and consistency will pay off. Even if you have to do an internship that is unpaid, any experience will help you in your career. Always remember to learn as much as you can in any experience. That first job might not be the most pleasant or what you were expecting, but it is a start and you can use it as your benchmark to figure out what direction you want your career to go. I believe everything happens for reason, but you still have control over your career whether you think so or not!!