Post-Graduation in a Pandemic: How to Launch Your Career in Philly

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Miranda Raughley is an Application Support Analyst at Office Practicum, a software company based in Fort Washington, PA, dedicated to connecting pediatricians with their patients to foster best practices and healthier lives. Miranda landed her job with Office Practicum post-graduation (in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic!), with the aid of Campus Philly’s Job Board—where new jobs are posted weekly.

Hear more about how Miranda used the Campus Philly Job Board to her advantage, and how YOU can do the same!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your major at Arcadia? How has your academic career prepared you for the professional world?

I chose to pursue a Computer Science degree at Arcadia. My academic career allowed me to explore all of the avenues where I could apply computer science. When I first started out, I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. After four years of dipping my toes in a wide range of classes, from website design to bioinformatics, I found what I really cared about. This helped me narrow down my job search and find a job where I could apply these new skills in a way that interested me the most.

What was it like to graduate in the midst of a pandemic and apply for jobs while remote?

Graduating and job-searching in the midst of a pandemic was everything but traditional. Graduating felt, somehow, both lackluster and very personal. I felt as if things suddenly came to an end without any closure. We all left for spring break expecting to return, and then we never had in-person classes again, which meant not returning to campus for many of us. Despite the disappointment, it felt very memorable. The first class to not graduate in-person is certainly going to go down in the history books!

Job-searching was the rollercoaster that followed. At the beginning of COVID, it was very promising—job fairs, interviews, and info sessions were all put online; it seemed like a seamless transition. It was almost easier to apply to plenty of jobs and schedule multiple interviews in one day—I didn’t even have to leave my apartment!

At first, I was encouraged by this, but as the pandemic progressed, things were prioritized differently. Companies were focusing on getting through the unpredictability of the pandemic, so it seemed like everything else was put on pause. This resulted in a lot of dead ends. I was often told that the interview/onboarding process would resume when “things got back to normal” or “when COVID is over.” For many companies, that meant not hearing from them again; for others, it meant them closing new positions entirely. It was really hard to find a team and grow with them when they were just trying to survive through unprecedented times. 

How did you learn about Campus Philly’s Job Board? 

I found out about Campus Philly’s Job Board through one of Campus Philly’s online job fairs. I really encourage others to use this Job Board because it proved to be very useful in narrowing down and filtering the exact careers I was interested in, that were also in my area! With all jobs being posted online this year, the rest of the internet was an endless, messy sea of job postings.

I would find myself having to pick and choose through many different job sites to find more specific careers. Half the time when I finally found one, it was somewhere hours away, which would require a big move—something also made more difficult by the pandemic. Campus Philly’s Job Board is a great tool for anyone who wants to really narrow down your search to the area and your particular interests!

Tell us about your career path leading up to Office Practicum. Do you have any advice for current seniors as they begin their job search this spring?

I worked a great deal of odds-and-ends jobs throughout my career, ranging from a barista in a local coffee shop to a scuba diver for an environmental project! I really enjoyed exploring all of the different settings and perspectives in the workplace, and it helped me understand my identity as a professional.

As I approached senior year, I began to get very worried that I would not find a career within computer science because I had not done internships or any jobs related to the field. I would avoid applying for them because I feared it was “too late” and everyone else was far ahead of me in the game. I would tell current seniors that it is never too late to apply and seek the job you want, even if it feels like you are behind. Every experience you have is applicable to you as a professional—you just have to understand how to apply it and present it to the employers who interest you!

What’s it like to be onboarded during COVID? Any advice for working remotely and getting to know your team remotely?

Being onboarded during COVID was actually really fun, which I did not expect. I never thought my first day of work at a software company would be in my PJs in my living room.  I was very lucky to join a team of people who were creative and dedicated to finding ways to welcome newcomers onto the team. We take advantage of webcam meetings, online group messaging, and just about every electronic resource available.

My best advice would be to ask as many questions as possible and watch how the employees interact with one another. It helps you learn who to direct questions to and where to ask them, whether it be an email or a quick message!

What excites you about your role? Tell us about your day-to-day life at Office Practicum.

My team is what really excites me about my role. Even though I am new to the team, I really feel like we are all experiencing something for the first time together. I am adjusting to the new job and everyone else is adjusting to the new online setting, which really helps take the pressure off. It’s very exciting to learn this new way of working together, and it makes adjusting to the role a lot easier. Everyone takes up the responsibility of making this work, which has really shown me how great of a team this is.

A day-to-day experience at Office Practicum starts with logging into all of the communication apps and software tools. I typically take calls and connect to pediatric offices’ computers to help them troubleshoot our software. If I’m not doing that, I am looking deeper into problems I was not able to solve on the phone. It is still a daily lesson on the inner workings of Office Practicum’s software, and I learn more with every client’s question!

What makes you want to grow your professional network and career in the Greater Philadelphia Region?

Philadelphia is where I found my home. When I left home, I moved to Philadelphia without knowing a single soul in a city of millions, yet I felt instantly accepted. Philadelphia is a city comprised of people from all over, starting out fresh, just like I did. I take a lot of pride growing as an independent person in Philadelphia because I found it is truly the City of Brotherly Love, which was evident the moment I got here. The connections to the community are what keep me here in Philadelphia, because I want to contribute and grow with the city that took me in without hesitation!

Any last words of advice? Please feel free to share!

My advice would be to try everything and anything Philadelphia has to offer. Philly is a city of both variety and unity, as all perspectives are welcomed and explored, so there is a community for almost anything imaginable. Commit to the things you find you love here and try something else if you don’t; you will never run out of options. Overall, explore Philadelphia in every meaning of the word: the people, the places, the food, the art—you will never be bored!

Want to learn more about Office Practicum? They’re hiring! Check out the job description for OP’s Application Support Analyst opening here, and apply today.

Plus, head over to Campus Philly’s Job Board weekly for NEW and OPEN job positions! 

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