By Shannon Sweeny
If you have recently graduated college, the following scenario might sound familiar to you: Your friends have relocated to other parts of the country, whether temporary or permanent. You have moved back home or are staying in your college apartment. All your clubs, shows, games and assignments are over and you’re left feeling accomplished and yet useless.
In college we are so over-programmed, going to five classes, multiple student organizations, part-time jobs and social lives. For most people, post-grad life is the opposite of that: no clubs, no class and we can’t use the “I’m in college, it’s okay to be hung-over for multiple days” excuse anymore. Being an unemployed post-grad was the most stressful time of my life. Every day I questioned all the decisions I had made up until this point but, I thankfully I found a few ways to keep myself going. So keep in mind the following:
You are not useless: As much as you will think this on the days when you apply for 50 jobs that have nothing to do with what you studied, you must remember that you are smart. You graduated from college, you worked your butt off and you deserved that diploma. You were part of student organizations, worked ridiculous part-time jobs and miraculously figured out how to keep people you like around you. If you don’t believe you’re worth something, how do you expect anyone else to? Just keep plugging along.
Figure out what makes you happy: I learned fresh out of college when I moved back in my New Hampshire home that there are really only three things I need in my life to be happy: people I love, yoga/dance and a job that makes me feel accomplished. So I spent tons of time with my friends, went to dance and yoga class that I never had time to go to before and got a job waiting tables that I loved. In college you have a million things going on that you can never appreciate how simple happiness is. So dammit, be happy, decide to be happy and I promise you’ll see it’s not as tough as you think.
Only apply for jobs you actually want and think you’re qualified for: The worst feeling is showing up at an interview and having applied for 75 jobs, not really remembering which one this is. Many times we get so eager that we apply to every job that’s posted. If you don’t want the job, it will show and you won’t get it. Sure, you may not know exactly what you want to do with your life, but if you went to school for public relations and applied for a job to be a project manager at an electrical company, you may regret it.
This is the longest vacation of your life, appreciate it: This sounds ridiculous now but for the rest of your life you will work 50 weeks a year to get two weeks off. Post-grad unemployment, as stressful as it is, will be the longest vacation of your life. See your family members that you neglected through college; I know my Nana appreciated my unemployment more than anyone else and I appreciated all the lunch dates we shared together. I graduated in December so much of my life consisted of “The West Wing”, “Vampire Diaries” and yoga classes; but if you graduate in May by all means go to the beach, visit your friends who moved back to their beautiful hometowns as well. Just do it, don’t spend a month worrying about it, just go. Disclaimer: I wish someone had told me this because I would have gone on a lot more trips and spent fewer days being stressed out.
Put yourself in the right place at the right time: You have possibly moved back to suburbia, meaning you are outside the world that you want to be in. You are no longer running into marketing managers at the grocery store or waiting in line at Starbucks with someone who could hire you. Get yourself back in the city or whatever location you want to work in. I joined a dance company that rehearsed in Boston and commuted from New Hampshire there twice a week. It kept me in the world that I wanted to be in, it helped me meet people doing the things that I wanted to be doing and gave me great connections. So get yourself out there, what is there to lose?
Wake up: Just because you can sleep until 11 a.m. every day doesn’t mean you should. Waking up early makes your day longer and we all could use that! Also, it is better to send cover letters and resumes in the morning because people usually aren’t in meetings yet and getting yourself moving early will make you feel more productive. I’m not saying napping is out of the question, but limiting the lazy activities will make you feel a lot better, or at least it did for me.
This may seem like tough love but I sure wish someone had told me these simple things. Be happy, appreciate what you have and work your butt off for the next few months so you have the life you have always wanted. Even after all of this you will have your bad days, but you’ll make it, I promise.
Shannon is a recent graduate of Emerson College with a degree in Political Communications with minors in Gender Studies and Dance. She has passion for the arts, human rights, non-profit work and progressive thinking. She now resides in New Hampshire and hopes to soon move back to the city she loves, Boston.