As the euphoric feelings of graduation faded away, unemployment and the daunting fear of not finding a job hit me like an 18-wheeler. The search for a full time job is what originally brought me to blogging, hoping to connect with other scared college grads like myself. Being officially a year out since my own graduation and hectic job search has put a lot of perspective on the whole process. As I breathe a little easier (as does my bank account) here are some of the things I've learned and would like to share with recent college grads:
1. Feelings are okay. First off, don't feel bad if you're scared/nervous/anxious about what comes next. You will undoubtedly have friends that have it "all figured out" and they've already got admissions to their grad school or have had a full time job lined up since last year. Don't feel bad or guilty for not doing so, everyone sets their own pace. Allow yourself to feel however you feel about the new stage in your life and know that you don't have to put unnecessary pressure on yourself. How did I deal with my post grad unemployment? I forced my parents to get an adorable dog to follow me around 8 hours a day. And now he's my Mom's favorite child.
2. Take time. If you feel a little burnt out from school, take a small break before you start the job search. The summer after college may be your last legitimate summer before adult life and you WILL miss it. Take a graduation vacation or just veg on the couch for a bit, while you keep your eye open for jobs. There has to be a few shows you had been dying to watch in college that you never had the time for. Enjoy some time and pat yourself on the back for the accomplishment that is finishing school. I know a lot of people don't have this luxury but don't be afraid to take some time to yourself if you can.
3. Don't fight the facts, live with them. There's no doubt about it we live in tough times. Here are the facts: 1. Unemployment is high so jobs are relatively scarce. 2.College grads aren't getting the jobs they used to get. 3. The job market will be partial to experience and it may seem to you that you have little to none. All recent college grads can attest to this and stating these facts over and over don't make them any less true. But that doesn't mean you're not capable of getting a job, it means you have to work within your means. If that means working a less-than-glamorous job to gain experience for your next, do it. If the annual salary is going to a basically leave you nothing but food, take it with the hopes of moving upward. I'm not saying settle, I'm saying what everyone else is sayin, times are tough.
4. Use your resources. Before you even start looking for a job, get yourself prepared using the resources you have. If you are a Davis grad, the ICC is a great place to start and edit a resume or look for jobs. I didn't take myself off the Psych listserve at Davis and that's how I found my current job. Even if you don't attend Davis, I'm sure there are resources on campus to help you, it's just a matter of finding and using them. Also, use your connections through your family and friends, it's much easier to swing for a job if you have a personal connection to someone.
5. Narrow your focus. The #1 problem I know people have in job hunting is not having a target job or category. Although college was about picking a major and focusing on that, it doesn't mean we'll be lucky enough to find a job in that field. Even more so, just because you got a degree in a specific field doesn't mean you can't branch out into others. Overall, focus your job search. Searching for jobs in Econ could range from bank teller to IRS intern to any financial department within the state. Pick 3 jobs/titles you would be happy with and first search only for those 3 jobs/titles. That way, you can focus your resume and cover letter towards a specific field and make yourself a better applicant. Widen your focus after you've exhausted all the options in your previous search.
And take a deep breath, you're going to be fine.
Part II in the coming weeks!