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Creative job search tactics pay off for alum

"Shot Clock Violation" co-hosts Graham McCullough and Carly Aplin

"Shot Clock Violation" co-hosts Graham McCullough and Carly Aplin

Recent graduates looking for work should take a page from Graham McCullough's cover letter.

He landed a coveted spot on the Minnesota Timberwolves sales team and an internship at Fame ad agency in Minneapolis, thanks to his salesmanship of his best asset - himself.

He wasn't sure what he wanted to do upon graduating with a degree in communications in 2013. When a job opened up on the Timberwolves sales staff, he figured he had nothing to lose. The application required a 90-second "elevator speech" video, so he recruited his fellow alum and creative partner Pat Fisher to put together a slick professional video that blew away the competition. He got the job.

Selling season tickets and memberships was interesting work, but McCullough wanted to get back into video production, something that he had enjoyed at St. Scholastica. He and Fisher had often collaborated on skits and projects, and his favorite courses were video production with Rob Larson, assistant professor of Communication and Media Studies, and film studies with Nathan Carroll, associate professor of Department of Communication, Theatre, and Art.

He applied for a production associate position with the broadcast team. He ended up producing and hosting "Shot Clock Violation," a show on

"I started writing the show, and realized that maybe production and holding a camera isn't what I wanted to do with my career. Writing and coming up with content is what I want to do. I started thinking, ‘How could I harness that desire to work creatively into a sustainable career?'"

He made a list of the top 25 ad agencies in Minneapolis, and painstakingly wrote a cover letter for each one, whether they had posted job openings or not. He took the time to describe himself and his experience, also listing what he liked about that agency's work.

The strategy paid off because McCullough did the agencies' work for them.

"It's so much work for a company to post a job opening," he said. "My email was in their inbox at the perfect time. I was lucky, but I also cast a large net."

He's enjoying a paid internship at Fame as an assisting account supervisor, working with major clients including Time Warner Cable.

What advice would he give to recent graduates looking for work?

"Don't give up! You can do this," McCullough said. "Looking for a job is a full-time job."