A post grad’s guide to figuring it all out (sort of)

For the record, I have to say I attempted to write this as a facebook status, but fb decided to “quit unexpectedly” and it was all deleted. I almost threw my computer. Anyway…let’s get to this guide…

I quit my job at Habitat for Humanity. I quit for a number of reasons…check that post out here. I’m writing this now to explain how weird life is and how 1. Risk is important in the process of growth and learning and 2. You don’t know what you don’t know until it’s put in front of your face and then you’re like well sh*t. I wish I would’ve known that a bajillion years ago…and I’m here to see if I can help decrease that from happening…because I learned some stuff I never would’ve learned simply by taking a risk and being confident in my abilities. Let’s get started:

Okay, so quitting Habitat forced me to dive head first back into the “I need to find a job before I become broke, homeless and run out of coconut oil” game. This allowed me to apply for my dream design job with Gensler, one of the largest Architecture/Design firms in the world. They have a Design Strategist program for college graduates that they open for applicants every January and I knew it was the perfect job for me. It was my 2nd time applying. The first was last year and I had gotten one interview. That was a good accomplishment, however of course it wasn’t enough. I wanted the job. So here I was applying again. I revised my (epic 10 page) application. I threw modesty out the window and spoke about how much I’ve grown as a designer this past year. (I really had grown a lot). I added pictures of my heavy involvement in community/public interest design, spoke about how meticulous, confident, charismatic and self motivated I was as a young designer. I was determined and just knew I was going to get the job this time around. February 6th rolls around and I roll over in bed to check my email. (that’s the first thing everybody does these days when they wake up, right?) and I see the email. I pop up faster than a kid who’s alarm clock didn’t go off. With these emails you can tell if it’s good or bad just by reading the first sentence. It wasn’t good. I sat there staring at the screen. I sat there in exasperated, morose, distraught, sadness. And the day went on. The next day also came and I was so hyped and mad about not even getting 1 interview I decided to email the director of the program. I graciously asked him to reconsider his decision or offer some guidance on how I should move forward in terms of reaching my goals. Then, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up I forget about it. A week later I’m about to enter the war zone that is Atlanta traffic and I get a phone call. “Hi, It’s Ferris from Gensler. Is Kimberly available?” I switch lanes and park my car on the side of the ENTRANCE of the freeway with a quickness. I sit there and we have a 25 minute conversation as huge, loud trucks thunder by my tiny cerulean car. This is what I got out of the conversation:

Hiring Managers will find ANYTHING to rule out a candidate. Not because they’re mean (they are mean) but because it makes choosing someone easier on their end. 300 applicants for 12 jobs. You try and weed through it all. You’d rule someone out on forgetting a period in their last sentence too. (He also said my file was blurry, which didn’t show up on my computer. But as a designer we must be nit picky. Next time I will view my app from different mediums)

Hiring Managers are biased. He said my formatting could’ve been more elegant/sophisticated. (I wouldn’t use those two adjectives to describe myself so why would I make my application that way?) He also said that my greatest strength was that my application showed my personality well. (which do you want? Personality or elegance? hmm..)

(told me not to repeat this, but it’s gold so I must…he can deny it if he wants) I was told that my application being so heavily involved in community design and volunteer work didn’t allow me to appear fit for the job. I was told corporate design would probably crush my spirit. (hmm…)

I was told my application showed I had a designer mindset…not a strategic one (aren’t designers good strategizers? And isn’t the position supposed to help me become a better strategizer?)

Sometimes you just aren’t going to be hired for the job. No matter how much you think you’d be a good fit.

Ok so to break it down even more here’s what I’ve learned so far in my job search journey:

  1. It’s important to really figure out what you want/need in a job before jumping in and applying just because their job description sounds good. During this process I’ve figured out that I need these things in my future salary paying job:

  • Guidance/Mentorship

  • Like Minded Individuals

  • Significant Financial Gain

  • Room for Development and Advancement

(another post about this to come soon)

2. Sometimes you really aren’t a good fit. So move on to the next opportunity.

3. Sometimes the man just wants to keep you down and you need to fight for what you want! (You be the judge

4. Don’t always take no for an answer. It’s OKAY to ask questions!

5. Be confident in your abilities!! Even if you think you’re a novice.

6. Advice for the women: You don’t have to be nice. You don’t have to giggle and demean your abilities to please your boss. You can be kind, but stern. Let them know you mean business.

7. Older people are quick to tell you how much your college education doesn’t mean much these days. Stand your ground and be ready to rebuttal and show them you deserve the job regardless of their bias. Or just agree. Sometimes people just want to hear themselves talk. Lol

8. CONNECTIONS ARE EVERYTHING. If you want to work at Mcdonalds, but don’t know the manager you’re practically giving your dream job away. MAKE AN EFFORT to get to know who’s where you want to be. Establish relationships and connections. SHOW UP. LISTEN.

9. Dress nice and smell good. You’ll go into any interview feeling 10x more confident..

Last but not least…

this is why you don’t know what you didn’t know and how you can avoid obstacles in the long run….


FIND A MENTOR. (they be knowin stuff man!!!)

STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. (talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. On a personal and business level. (See no. 8)

TAKE RISKS. (I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face, be confident in your abilities!!!!! You have no idea what the return on the investment of your risk will bring into your life)

DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL. It’s inevitable. We’re human. All you have to do to justify failure is to LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES.


No, I did not get my dream design job (yet), but because I stood my ground, maintained confidence and pushed forward regardless of the outcome, I’m destined to win this battle. Things aren’t perfect, but I’m still learning. That’s all I have for now. More to come in the future about how I got a couple design jobs to fall in my lap because I chose to do the things i just noted.

If you have questions feel free to hit me up!

FB: https://www.facebook.com/kimberlyrwilli/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimberlyrwill/ Email: kimberlyrwilli@gmail.com

#college #job #postgrad #life #lifethings #design

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