With the fall semester starting back up for college students, new-grads can find themselves with unfamiliar feelings because this is a sign that college is truly over (unless you are heading to grad school). It’s weird, not going to lie! When I graduated back in December, I didn’t have 3 months in between school being out and starting back up to soak in what it feels to be a new grad and it hit hard! I felt out of place because for the first time in 17 years, I wasn’t going back to classes after Christmas and I felt empty! Growing up with school being my main priority, I was faced with having to learn what my new reality would be outside of college. Thankfully, I had an internship to fall back on, so my routine was somewhat the same until summer started.
Graduating is such a high and you feel like you are on top of the world and finally, have conquered 4 (or 3 ½) years of college. For those who do not have a job lined up, your journey is just beginning. I thought that graduating from college would be a completely different reality and I’m not quite sure why this isn’t a narrative that is more talked about. Post-grad life is rough and post-grad depression is REAL! No one talks about the countless months spent job searching, the feeling of competing against hundreds of new grads who are in the same position that you are for one opening at a highly respected company, or how it feels when you actually land an interview, make it to the final round, and then get told that you need more experience and a masters degree in order to be the “best” fit for the role. I thought that I had navigated college perfectly by being in countless clubs and organizations, multiple internships with highly respected organizations, and a professional network with people who have successfully climbed the corporate ladder in my industry. I graduated college with no full-time job offers and even after applying to over 360 jobs, 7 months post-grad I was left empty-handed. I could have given up but I had worked too hard for this to be the end. Here are 5 tips that have helped me to get through life after college!
Apply to jobs actively!
Unfortunately, not everyone is able to land a full-time job right after graduation, including me. You need to be proactive in looking for jobs that are hiring in your area. Make sure you are submitting a resume and cover letter that relate to the position that you are applying for. This can be extremely time-consuming personalizing each application, but it will truly go the extra mile when hiring managers are looking over the application and they see that you didn’t just give a generic resume/cover letter. One thing that I liked to do was searching for the exact job position on LinkedIn to try and find the person who is or was working in the position that you are applying for. More often than not, the description for the job that they have on their profile will somewhat differ or be personalized to what they actually do so this can give you more insight into what they are looking for. I would suggest sending a follow-up email at least 1 week after submitting your application to let them know that you truly are interested in interviewing for that position. It is also important to use the professional network that you have to see if there is anyone who can reach out directly to the hiring manager. Lastly, make sure that you aren’t extremely focused on getting a job in your industry/what you majored in. The reality is that not everyone is able to get a job in their major straight out of college, no matter how much relevant experience you may have.
Looking back, I wish I would have saved the money that I had made from my last internship/when I was fully employed because unemployment is rough and you really don’t want to have to rely on credit cards. Only spend money on true necessities that you need such as personal care, groceries, gas, and bills. The other things that you desire to spend your money on can come after you have a full-time job and sustainable income! Although you have a 6-month grace period for student loans (mine for sure flew by), you never want to miss a payment. Having money saved so that you can pay a couple months after your grace period is crucial (but hopefully you will find a job before that)! You should also consider getting a part-time job or at least have something that is bringing you some kind of income to supplement for the months that you are looking for a job.
Build a routine for yourself.
I think my situation is a little different because I had an internship up until 5 months after graduation which held me back from fully pursuing finding a full-time job, so I feel like I was behind the curve in the hiring cycle especially after graduating in the winter and starting to look for jobs when all the spring graduates were fresh out of graduation. Because of this, I have pretty much spent my entire summer at home (I work part-time for a stay-at-home position) and it has really been an adjustment! Going from working every day, to not having any real reason to leave the house, I have had to make sure to set a routine for myself that I actively follow every day. If you have just graduated, it can be hard going from the set routine that you had at school to being done with school for good! You should have a routine for yourself that you stick with every day such as going to sleep and waking up at the same time, going to the gym, getting stuff done around the house, etc. Make sure that you are keeping yourself busy and active! I’ve learned that when I don’t stick to my routine, I (sometimes) stay up all night watching Netflix and end up sleeping all day/not getting anything done! This is ok sometimes but having a consistent daily routine is important.
Continue to pursue your dreams.
Never forget what your end goal is. It’s ok if you aren’t able to get a job in the industry that you want straight out of college, and if you do, you might even feel like you’ve entered the wrong career path and end up not liking it. You are so young and have your life ahead of you, and whatever job you get is never permanent! Always keep your eyes focused on what you want to end up achieving and try and write down the steps you need to take in order to do so. I read somewhere that your career is a marathon, not a sprint and sometimes (always in my opinion) slow and steady wins the race. Take whatever position you can and do your absolute best by giving it your all. This will set you up for success in the long run by building great work habits and connecting with others in places you never thought you could relate to. I know that one of the trends for the new year is to make a vision board, but I suggest making a vision board after graduation! Visualize what you want to do and how you can navigate the corporate world when starting off as a fresh, young college graduate. Also, try and define success for yourself and what it means to you.
My last tip is to make sure that you surround yourself with a strong group of people to support you through post-grad life. It certainly is not easy and nothing can prepare you for it. There are going to be highs and lows and it’s important to have people that are going to be cheering you on every step of the way.
Till next time!