Every time June comes around, I’m reminded of when I graduated from college six years ago (holy sh*t). Like many recent grads, I did not have a job lined up after graduation and I remember how intensely this affected my emotions, my confidence, and my opinion of myself. Looking back, I realize just how unnecessarily hard I was on myself and I’m sure there are plenty of you recent grads doing the same thing. So before you become overwhelmed by negative thoughts, read this!
First of all, you should know you’re normal. This year, 21% of graduates had jobs lined up before graduation, and last year it was only 12%. So just know that even though it may feel like you’re the only one without a job, you are SO not alone. In fact, the vast majority (79%) of your piers are in the exact same situation.
This does not mean you are less adequate.
Until now, you’ve always had grades to evaluate your abilities. And now that you don’t have a job, you may be interpreting that as getting an “F”. Let me just tell you — now is the time to clear your head of this mentality. This is not how life works. Getting a job is MUCH more complicated than getting an “A” on a test. There are so many more factors involved, like what the company happens to need at the time, if they even looked at your resume, what they’re spending their budget on, if the person hiring is insanely busy that they took the recommendation of a friend to get it over with, etc. etc. etc.
So if you are starting to question your abilities or your intelligence during this time, take a step back and remember that your job status does not define you. The reason you don’t have a job yet is NOT because you don’t deserve one or aren’t good enough to get one, it’s because you simply haven’t found the one, and the right opportunity just hasn’t found you yet.
Don’t try to make this first job your dream job.
I also remembering putting SO much pressure on what this first job meant. I thought I needed to know what I wanted to do with my career before I even started it, and that this first job was going to affect the entire trajectory of my career. While in some cases that may be true, for the most part, especially in today’s world, you can and will shift your career as time goes on. This first job is just that — your FIRST job. It’s where you will start to learn an industry in which you may or may not grow interest. This first job will NOT be your dream job and you won’t love everything about it. In fact, you may end up hating it. But that’s okay — that’s how you learn what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.
So if you’re being extremely picky about where you apply and what you accept, remember that this is just the first small stepping stone of your career. Whether this ends up being a great job or not, you will get something out of it and that’s what really matters.
Use this time to learn.
Let’s face it, you can’t spend your entire day applying for jobs. Be committed and do your best, but don’t drive yourself crazy. Use this down time to learn about an industry you’re interested in and experience it in any way that you can. You don’t need to work in an industry to learn about it! Go out there and experience it. If you’re interested becoming a writer, then write. If you think you want to do graphic design, then get create designs in your own time. Be proactive and go experience whatever it is that interests you — nothing’s stopping you!
Any other advice for our recent grads??