Recent graduate advocates persistence when job hunting


Matthew Baker graduated from Francis Marion University in 2009 and now works as an audio visual coordinator at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology.

Lindsay Buchanan, Senior Writer

It may have taken a couple of years and a lot of hard work, but Matthew Baker finally landed his dream job after graduating from Francis Marion in May of 2009 with a double major in mass communication and theatre.

When Baker graduated, America and the world were facing a gigantic financial crisis. Uncertainty about the economy had employers scared to take on new hires or make any big decisions. Although the country is still seeing negative impacts to what is now termed “The Great Recession,” Matthew said the atmosphere in 2009 was a little more nerve wracking.

“I think the economy was a lot worse when I graduated than now,” Baker said. “The uncertainty definitely played a big part in not being able to find a job in my major.”

During a two-year stint as the assistant manager at a local GameStop store, a videogame retailer that requires employees to meet quotas, Matthew continued to send out one resume after another to jobs more suited to his degree.

When he was finally hired for his current position as the audio visual coordinator at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SIMT) located behind Florence-Darlington Technical College, it was in large part due to Matthew’s persistence and refusal to take no for an answer.

“I actually interviewed for an admissions and financial aid job at (Florence-Darlington) Tech, but didn’t get it,” Baker said. “I was really frustrated and felt let down. I was so ready to get out of retail and use my degree. I found out about this job and it was more suited to my skills. I applied two or three times and finally got it.”

Baker has been in his current position for four months. According to Baker, even though he went through some really tough times working at a job he did not enjoy and even became unemployed for a few months, finally landing a job in his chosen career path was worth the wait.

“I hated sales and retail, but it all worked out in the end,” Baker said. “I’m like a kid in a toy store. I’ve got all these gadgets; my job’s constantly changing. It’s a job I would do without them paying me. The company paying me is a bonus.”

Baker’s background in theatre and communications both play a big role in helping with the types of productions that he now helps coordinate.

SIMT serves as a competitor in the Florence region to the Civic Center when it comes to holding and producing large scale meetings, conferences and events. The state of the art building provides a place for Matthew to meet presidents and chief executive officers of major industries throughout the Pee Dee who choose SIMT to serve as their conference or event location.

As the audio visual coordinator, Baker assists with all of the technical aspects of events, including booking events, setting up microphones, outdoor and indoor electrical signs, videotaping, lighting and audio panels, and laptops and projectors, just to name a few. Another exciting aspect of SIMT is its ability to present three-dimensional virtual reality models of products to customers and their guests.

According to Baker, students learn a great deal during their time at university, but the real learning comes into play while performing work in a hands-on fashion.

“Every student needs to get an internship or volunteer experience to be prepared for what you want to do,” Baker said. “I didn’t do that, and it really hurt me when I went to find a job.”

When asked what advice he would give to upcoming graduates, Baker said the most important thing is to not allow frustration over finding a job overcome everything else. He said the frustration graduates feel may allow them to give up and settle for something outside of their degree.

“Don’t give up when you’re applying for jobs,” Baker said. “You will be told no very frequently. Be persistent when the door is shut in your face. It worked in my case.”

Matthew’s persistence paid off with a job that can sometimes have strange hours, but has big rewards in granting him the ability to do what he enjoys most while at the same time building up his resume.

“I do want to get my master’s in computer science or mass communication,” Baker said. “I could see myself being a professor someday down the road.”

Although Baker plans to pursue further education in the future, for now he said he just feels happy to have a job doing something he loves.