Credit: Maya Derrick (above)

Suffering job rejection can be disheartening at the best of times, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. But it is how you react to setbacks which will determine the direction of your career. 

Remain ambitious and always apply for positions no matter how unsure you are of getting it, says Maya Derrick, a recent multimedia journalism graduate from Bournemouth University. 

This mentality has helped her land her first job as a junior reporter for the Herts Advertiser, a weekly newspaper based in the city of St Albans. She covers stories within her local patch in the Hertfordshire area and beyond. spoke to Derrick about her experience of applying for jobs post-university and to get her best advice for other graduates in the job hunt.

Push through the rejection 

Unfortunately, rejection is part and parcel of applying for jobs and Derrick faced her fair share of unsuccessful applications. But it only spurred her on to come back stronger, as she found motivation in tweaking the process until her break came.

"It was obviously still disheartening when you were effectively ghosted by prospective employers, or received the rejection email you were dreading," she says. 

"But whether it was giving myself a pep talk or making some small changes to my CV and covering letter, I felt even more ready with every application."

Advice for applying

Self-confidence is everything, she advises, adding that there is nothing wrong with being ambitious and going for jobs that you may lack the necessary experience for. 

"Flip it around and show your potential employer what you can bring to the table."

This is not just about listing your achievements on your CV. Get your personality across in the application and make the best possible first impression during the interview process.

Be extra-curricular

Derrick did two weeks experience at Archant’s Comet and Royston Crow titles on their news desk, and a further fortnight with Hertfordshire Life magazine, by the time she graduated. Having those contacts meant she was best placed to apply for the job when it came up.

But experience also counts for a lot, and she was involved with the student radio station while at university. During her time there, she had tried her hand at being a radio presenter and the specialist content manager.

She says that even though it is a different medium, employers can see that she spent her time at university doing more than coursework.

Network, network, network

"There’s no such thing as a weak connection," says Derrick.

They say it is a small world. In journalism, quite often a connection you made years ago can help lead you to a job opportunity. Be sure to leverage all the contacts that you made during your time at university, and be ready to make new ones.

"There's never any harm to connecting with an editor of a publication you aspire to write for, or calling up a radio station you’d like to produce bulletins for," she said. 

"However well acquainted you are, or however tenuously it may help you with a job prospect in the future, you never know what’s around the corner, and how they can help you and vice versa."

What should current students take from all of this? That to stand the best chance of securing work post-university, doing the bare minimum is not enough.

Take any opportunities that come your way, make connections wherever possible and above all, do not give up when you get knocked back. That dream job may only be one application away.  

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