Employer Branding

Are College Graduates in HR Setting Their Sights Too High?

I’m graduating from college in a month. The real world is approaching. I’m going to find an incredible entry-level HR career (not job, of course… jobs are for high schoolers and careers are for adults.) My college education in HR has prepared me for everything I will ever need to know about HR…. right?

Academic and corporate disconnect – you better believe it!

I quickly realized as I began interviewing for HR positions how scarce they are in an entry-level capacity with no graduate degree and no experience.

So, why did my business school tell me that HR was the major to be? Why did they say that in this day and age HR was adding value to an organization and I would be a valuable asset? That with all their connections, finding a job would not be a problem?

I believe there is a huge disconnect between what career centers and college professors in HR tell us and what the real HR industry is looking for and I want to figure out how to bridge that gap so more college graduates won’t be surprised by the trends that I saw.

“Why do you think you are perfect for this position?”

I consider myself an interview “master.” I was an HR intern this past summer in a small private aerospace company and conducted interviews for aerospace engineers, technicians, software developers, etc. I was a 20-year-old sorority girl from a small town but (somehow and miraculously) I gained the knowledge of what to look for in interviews, knowing what the “right” answer was for questions.

I developed job descriptions and created the probing questionnaires for our behavioral interviews and I learned the flip side of what I soon would be facing around graduation.

Since then, I have interviewed about 30 times… lots of the interviews have been out of my league (as in, 2-4 years of experience or 3-5 years of experience) but I was persistent enough so they gave me the opportunity to blab about my internship experience that would enable me to “add value” to their company.

If you want that job, do something about it!

I found quickly that if I didn’t want to go to grad school (student loans…that’s another blog post) and I didn’t want to be an administrative assistant, I was going to have to start making decisions that would set me apart from the rest. But people have been telling me that my whole life… what does that really mean?? Well, I wanted to land an interview with Time Inc.

So I perused on Google for Time Inc. employee emails (for example: first name dot last name at company email dot com) and then searched for the VP of HR, VP of Staffing, or VP of TA (I’ve started learning the lingo) on LinkedIn and then I emailed the contact asking for career advice. I landed a phone interview the next day.

I also created an HR twitter (@HRowlsnest) where I can join recruiting chats and retweet articles that I find valuable to HR professionals and entry-level HR college graduates like myself. I’ve connected my Twitter with my LinkedIn profile and I drive my friends NUTS with their home feed.

So, how can you help me?

I’ve read guest blog posts that talk up a good storm but I want to know how qualified and credible they are… Did that girl graduating in HR who talked about how she set herself apart in the job market have job offers? Did she become an HR rep for Apple? Did she accept a job to walk on water? And where the heck is her blog? Well, folks, I’m still unemployed. And I don’t have a blog.

Set goals for yourself that are attainable yet challenging:

But, I do have several job offers and they are NOT in the capacity I would have imagined. But I have opportunities that will eventually get me to where I want to go and that’s the biggest piece of advice I want college graduates to know—that nothing is beneath us. I won’t be an administrative assistant with a college degree in HR because I believe I’m worth more but I also won’t be a recruiter for Apple because I am just not qualified for that position yet.

I want college graduates to know that HR Assistants, Recruiting Coordinators, and HR Representative Roles are a great way to get our foot in the door and actually gain some experience (and realize how different our textbook knowledge is compared to the real world of HR.)

I wish our college professors and career advisors would have refrained from blowing up our heads so much. Yes, we should reach for the stars. But we also should reach for an attainable star that we can tangibly see ourselves grabbing hold of so we’re not wasting a recruiter’s time, or our own.

You must earn it first:

I’m graduating from college in a month. The real world is approaching. My goal is to become a sponge instead of a walking textbook full of crap that isn’t useful. And I hope for you fellow HR graduate peers—that’s your goal, too.

Related: How To Find Jobs for College Graduates.

Marley Huckabee is graduating from Baylor University in May with her degree in HR. She currently serves as President of the Baylor Association of HR and is the HR Intern in the Baylor Career Center. She also served as the HR Intern at SpaceX. Marley has an affinity for all things HR—from how to improve a resume to what to expect when you’re given the task of improving a PIP as an intern. You can reach her at:

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