I graduated Georgetown University as an English major with no job.

Spoiler alert: I’m doing just fine.

I have a creative job at Framebridge, an online custom framing startup, doing work I care about and doing it well. But the road to get there wasn’t easy; it took lots of emails to strangers, resume rewrites, early-morning coffee meetings and late-night reflections.

Still, even when the process felt frustratingly lonely, I was far from alone. My friends and classmates went through it with me as we proofread applications and shared job postings. My professors, mentors and former managers shared their advice and their networks. Writing an endless stream of cover letters was draining, and I felt like an imposter trying to sneak into the world of work. Only when I adapted an extroverted style to my job search approach did I feel I was making progress.

Senior year, I dutifully went to career fairs, networking events, info sessions and practice interviews. None of the opportunities felt quite right. By spring, it seemed every other person I talked to had a job lined up in finance or consulting, or was heading off to a professional graduate program. While I envied their apparent self-assurance, I’ve since learned there are many other paths to success, financial independence and meaningful work.

As I searched for jobs, I gravitated to approaches and opportunities that felt familiar. Even as I attempted to follow my passions toward a fulfilling career, I was limited by what I didn’t know. I realized I needed to talk to people — lots of people.

Enter the informational interview. These casual conversations are an invaluable way to learn about someone’s work and explore new industries. My senior year, I talked to publishers, corporate trainers, activists, entrepreneurs, consultants, journalists, marketers and doctors. Though awkward at first, I grew to love these conversations with fascinating people.

Talking with strangers is a skill you can learn, and it’s one of the easiest ways to get a foot in the door. If you find the courage to bring your authentic self to these conversations, networking becomes much more rewarding and personally fulfilling. Many people love sharing their work with students and are willing to help how they can.

My current job grew out of a conversation at an alumni dinner. The role didn’t exist when I initially inquired about the company, but when a job opening popped up the day before graduation it felt custom-made for me. I graduated without a job, and two weeks later I was hired.

I’m still at Framebridge, and my work is exciting and challenging. In a year, I’ve built a whole new set of skills from basic coding to video production, worked with an incredible team, and learned more than I could have imagined. But even after landing a dream job, the hard work of the job search doesn’t really end. There will be many more decisions to navigate, and the way you approach your search can help inform how you handle transitions to come.

So, here’s my advice to you: Check in with yourself about how you’re feeling throughout the job search. If a job description or interview doesn’t leave you feeling excited for the opportunity, hold out for one that does. There are many ways to financially support yourself while you continue looking. If after your long search, you find that your first job isn’t everything you’ve ever wanted, be kind to yourself. You are not defined by a title or a paycheck.

This first year after college is the freshman year of the rest of your life. I urge you to give yourself permission to explore, make mistakes and be vulnerable. Recognize that self-care is more than a face mask and a glass of wine: It’s taking the time to create a space where you can feel and reflect without judgment. Finding your place in the world is no small task, and it will constantly evolve as you grow and change. Just remember that there are people at Georgetown to help you along the way.

If you need someone to talk to during your job search, I highly recommend taking the course “Story-Knowing and Storytelling,” reaching out to your career counselor in the Cawley Career Center, or even just creating a space to talk with your friends. As for me, cold emails are always welcome. You can reach me at [email protected].

Caroline Albers graduated from the College in 2017. This Viewpoint is the second installment of From Hoyas to Hired.

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