Finding that first real job

Published 9:36 am Friday, August 7, 2015

My name is Rebecca Chappell and I just graduated from Longwood University with a degree in English. I am from Carrollton, Virginia, and am now the newest staff writer for The Tidewater News.

We’ve all heard that cliché about success in life these days; “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.”

After graduating from college this past May and having to find my first real job — one of the most stressful situations ever — I am sad to say that most of the time that cliché ends up being true.

I applied for countless jobs and unless I knew someone in the company or had a friend of a friend that knew someone in the company, getting an interview was almost impossible. These days, applications are almost strictly online, so that face-to-face first impression that is so important to someone from a small town like me is thrown out the window.

After applying online, you typically receive that general e-mail, “We have received your application. A large number of applicants have applied for this position. If we review your information and feel that you are one of the top qualified applicants, we will notify you within two weeks.”

Being tossed into a playing field like that is difficult to say the least, and also down right depressing. Add in the fact that almost every employer wants someone that has been out of school for a while, I found myself asking the question, “How am I supposed to get my first job if nobody will give me a chance?”

After applying to hundreds of jobs and encountering a few disappointing interviews that just didn’t have a right fit on either side, I decided to try something different; email companies, regardless if they had an open position or not. I started emailing some newspapers around the area, because writing is something I love. Some never emailed me back and one emailed me and said they never hire people fresh out of college with no newspaper experience, regardless of the fact that I had a ton of writing experience.

Luckily, I got a reply to one of my emails from The Tidewater News and publisher Tony Clark, who wanted to meet with me. We had a first interview and it went great, and then we had a second interview and it went even better. I got a job offer, and even though I had never worked for a newspaper before, they were going to take a chance on me because they could tell that I had a great skill in writing. The funny thing is this newspaper hadn’t even posted that they had an open position. I just took a chance and emailed them.

It was fate.

I am really looking forward to this job, reporting on Franklin, Virginia, and learning from all my coworkers. I love the fact I got a job that is not only local to me, but is also in a small town. The Tidewater News took a chance on me, and so to all the other new graduates out there or soon-to-be graduates, someone will take a chance on you too.

REBECCA CHAPPELL is a staff writer at The Tidewater News. She can be contacted at 562-3187 or