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The Best Way For New Grads to Find a Job

Jackie Montag is five months into her dream job and without hesitation says “I love what I do”. She is a business development manager for a tech company in Waterloo, Ontario. She’s also a recent grad and went through a lot of confusion, rejection and struggle to get where she is today. She wanted to share her story to give hope, inspiration and practical advice to other new grads who are searching for their first job.

Who Knows You
Jackie found her current job through connections; the job was not publicly listed. Through an introduction, she met with the company owner, who was thinking about adding a business development manager to the team. After a good conversation between the two, and seeing there might be a fit with the company, Jackie job shadowed. She was then hired. 

Because of Jackie’s love for business and helping people – as well as clearly knowing what she did and didn’t want with her first job, she’s been very happy that it has been a match. She’s got growth opportunities with this company and is a good fit for what the company needs from a business development person.

Choosing a Path
Jackie took a year off after high school because she wasn’t really sure what she wanted to do. During that time she worked in sales for an HAVAC (air filter system) supplier. The next year she went back to school and took a one-year business foundation course. She didn’t click with the program and was unsure of what to do next. She then enrolled in a one-year human foundations course and loved it. Through that she decided to pursue Social Work since she really enjoyed meeting and helping people.

She moved away from her hometown of Waterloo, Ontario to Toronto to pursue the 2-year full-time social work program at George Brown College. She felt pretty scared about moving to a new city where she wouldn’t know anyone. But because of her outgoing personality, she was able to meet people, make friends and settle in quickly. She decided on the co-op program and found a good placement. However, she wasn’t hired on at the end of the term because the company she worked with didn’t have budget for more staff. Disappointed with her own situation, she watched as many of her friends in her program get hired and wondered what to do next. Upon graduation she decided to move right back home to Waterloo.

The Job Search 
Jackie moved away from Toronto the very next day after graduation. She was back home in Waterloo and started her job search. She was handing out resumes and going on interviews but wasn’t landing any jobs. This went on for about 4 months, which, and as anyone who has searched for a job can tell you, four months of job searching feels like forever. She took a full-time job at a book distributor just to feel like she was contributing to the world. She was there for six months and spent her after-work hours scanning online job sites and sending out resumes. As luck would have it – she was laid off at the end of six months. She remembers her boss telling her “Working here is shielding you from the job opportunities you really want to pursue. Go for it!”

Jackie got out into job-hunting mode with a new perspective, more energy and landed the Mad Hatter position – her current job, which she loves.

Practical Advice for Grads 
Looking back on her experience Jackie would have done things differently. Despite being a real people person, she forgot to build and use her network for her job search. She’s offering these suggestions for new grads and wants to stress that even if you don’t think you have an extensive network you can always start to build one today. Some of her tips for new grads are:

  • Never give up: it may be a long job search, don’t stop looking
  • Keep in touch: all your classmates, teachers, professors, coaches know you and they may know someone who is looking for your exact skills to fill a role. Be sure everyone knows what you’re looking for, and also be sure you know what your classmates are looking for. It pays to be a helpful resource to others while you’re searching for your ideal job.
  • Research: know where you want to work and why, know how your skills can help that organization grow.
  • Everyone can help: Jackie started talking to her parents’ friends about her job search and found them to be supportive. Each person who knows you is part of your network – a network isn’t just the people you know from the work world. Open your eyes and you will realize you have a larger, more helpful network than you think.
  • Be open to opportunities: Jackie would be the first to tell you she didn’t go to school to be a business development manager. However through her experience in sales, her natural outgoing personality and her love and concern for helping people, it turned out to be an ideal next step for her. 

Jackie is open to hearing from other new grads about their job search. Contact her at Jackie [at]

[Jennifer Kelly runs New Initiatives Marketing, a marketing services company focused exclusively on the effective implementation and execution of marketing strategy, particularly brand new strategies. Learn more at  Jen can be reached at and on Twitter @jenkellyjen]