Graduation. For me, it was the initiation from being a dependent college student to becoming an adult. While I was in school, it seemed like it was always just around the corner, something that was going to happen in the future, but not something I needed to really worry about. Until, with a sudden realization, I was in my last semester. My application to graduate was in, class add/drop day was passed, and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. But even as I took my final classes, attended career fairs, and submitted applications to big-named companies in between classes and hanging out with friends, I didn’t grasp the reality of what graduation really meant.
Graduation crept up on me and soon I was taking final exams, buying my cap and gown, and complaining to my boyfriend about the long ceremony (I mean really, they expect you to sit for 3 hours in fold out chairs, only to get a handshake and a fake diploma from the university president who doesn’t even care you exist? Not my idea of a fun morning. I’d much rather be sleeping in.). Saturday morning came too soon. It was cold it was rainy. And something in my gut told me I wasn’t ready for this. I got up anyway and got dressed, then made my way over to the auditorium with the other graduates-to-be.
Once inside, I realized why I had felt like I wasn’t ready to graduate. In the lines upon lines of talking graduates, bedecked in black caps and gowns with medals, pins, or stoles for their appropriate majors and activities, I heard murmurs all around me about what the future held for my peers: “Where is your job?”, “How long do you have until your start”, “Your salary is how much?”. While I’m aware that not all the other graduates already had jobs, from my perspective, standing there listening to the congratulations, gloats, and moans that “I guess I have to be a grown-up now”, it seemed like I was the only one not moving on to bigger and better things. For those moving on to impressive, high-paying careers, graduation was a symbol of their successful education. For me, it was a gut-wrenching reminder that time was moving on, and I wasn’t ready.
While at the time I felt isolated – a lone failure in a sea of successful peers – I now know that many people, likely including many of those peers, were in the same position that I was. Talking to friends and family I discovered that it is the exception, not the rule, for new-graduates to have job offers before graduation.
Even still, there are things that I have had to learn as I have been at home looking for jobs. This is mainly what this blog is about – what I have learned, what advice I have taken and what I have decided isn’t for me, and (more or less) how to survive the harsh realities of being an unemployed adult. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
1) Living at home? Thank your parents. A LOT.
2) Make a schedule. It’s too easy to laze around and do nothing.
3) Don’t rely on an interview to turn into anything. If it does, great. But most likely it won’t. So keep job searching.
4) Projects are good for more than just eating time not spent applying to jobs. Hint: they’re interview gold.
5) Use the time to learn to be an adult. This includes learning to cook, clean, and organize your house, as well as learning about bills, taxes, and scary grown-up things.
6) The resume and cover letter is never complete. Keep updating it, keep perfecting it.
7) RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH companies and jobs prior to applying.
8) Not all advice is good advice. People are different, and not everything works for everyone. Do what works for you, and you only.
I’ll be writing future posts about these topics and many others. By doing this I hope that my experiences will inform anyone else in my place, but I also hope that it will help me to learn and grow through my own experiences. So, in the famous words of Edward Murrow, “Good night, and good luck.”