I graduated in 2006 from the Applied Communication Program at Camosun College in Victoria, B.C. It is a two-year program focusing on graphic design, journalism, broadcast radio, television and photography.
During my program, it seems so cliché to say that I worked hard, but I worked harder than I ever have before because I knew that once I left school with my two-year diploma, I’d probably have to be twice as employable as the graduate who held a degree.
My strategy from the first day of school was to focus on a marketing career. So even though I didn’t take a marketing program, all of the skills I was learning were directly applicable to any job within the marketing realm.
My passion has always been writing, but I did not want to specialize in anything and potentially pigeon-hole myself before I even landed my first job. So by opening up my skill-set I felt like I could fit into whatever position was needed within a large marketing department, or I could be the go-to person within a smaller company.
Like most students, once I graduated, I had a huge pile of student loan and credit card debt to deal with. I knew I needed to get a job and eliminate my debt as fast as possible, so I kept my ear to the ground and started networking like crazy.
One day, I got word from a friend that there was an unadvertised opening for an entry-level clerk position within the provincial government. I wasn’t interested in being a clerk, but I decided to apply for the job anyway in order to practice my interview skills.
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It turns out they were actually looking for someone with my kind of marketing skills — they just didn’t have the budget to have the position classified as anything higher than a clerk. It was the break that I had been waiting for. I snapped up the job on the spot and started the very next week.
It was also around that time that I started blogging online. I created my website, Give Me Back My Five Bucks (givemebackmyfivebucks.com), as a way to hold myself accountable for my debt, and to give myself an outlet for writing. It was because of my blog that I was able to eliminate all of my debt within 12 months.
Even though I only have a two-year diploma, I feel like I have been relatively successful in the last five years. I don’t have any remarkable skills, a huge network of influencers, or a lot of education to back me up but I’ve been able to succeed because of my hard work, determination, and the ability to create opportunities for myself.
When you are fresh out of school, all you need to focus on is getting your foot in the door. Normally, entry-level positions are not glamorous. In fact, it might not look anything like the dream job you’ve been imagining — but that’s OK! We all have to start somewhere. Do a good job with every task you are assigned, work hard, and be proactive in asking for more responsibility.
Where Krystal is now
I am currently living in Vancouver and working full-time in marketing for Mustang Survival Corporation – a company that manufactures and designs life jackets and cold water survival gear. I am also a freelance personal finance writer. I write a column called 20-something & Change at Moneyville.ca (a subsidiary of the Toronto Star), contribute weekly to Canadian Living and write on my own website, Give Me Back My Five Bucks.