I graduated from a fancy liberal arts college with a group of very smart people.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that a large portion of them are now working at bars, restaurants, or as entry-level employees and as interns in fields they don’t have their degrees in.
There’s nothing wrong with those jobs, but they’re certainly not what people pay for when they go to school to earn a degree. I don’t think that money was wasted, though.
Colleges and universities promise that if we pay them a lot of money, the American dream will instantly be ours.
They promise that with a prestigious degree we can choose our own paths. They promise that experienced professionals will want to hire us. The truth is it’s not so easy, and while there’s a lot of supply, there’s less demand.
All of those depressing words said, I’m urging you not to get discouraged, but instead to stay positive. This is actually something most people feel and go through, and I promise it’s not the end of the road.
If you find yourself jobless with a degree, read this as an encouragement letter from someone who has been there and has begun to come out of it, as well as someone who’s watched others break their way out of similar stagnancy to succeed.
Of course, take everything with a grain of salt, but this is what I’ve found thus far.
You’re Not the First to Experience This
I know there’s that one kid from your class who got a really great job across the country at some big shot firm and is now raking in $50K a year because he probably knew the right person.
Good for that kid.
Sincerely, he’s lucky to have such an awesome opportunity so early on. But he’s not you, and his case isn’t the case for even the most successful people.
You are no less qualified for not being in a similar situation, and that person is not necessarily more qualified. Most people I know took about half a year (minimum) to get on track for a career. Some are still trying, and they’re not failures for doing so.
You Don’t Have to Do This Alone
So much of success is a result of who you know, and you may just not know the right people yet.
Go set yourself up, keep meeting people, keep applying for jobs, and most of all keep your eyes open and your head up. You’re not the first person who’s gone through this and you certainly won’t be the last.
Keep on keeping on. Stay positive.
As well, there’s definitely value to having friends who are working jobs out of college. Networking is crucial to establishing yourself in a career, and your friends are an excellent network resource.
“It’s not who you are, it’s who you know,” as the saying goes.
Not that you can’t succeed on your own, but your chances are way better with the right people surrounding and supporting you. You should ask around – see if a friend can put in a good word for you or at least find out for you if their bosses are hiring.
I landed my job two and a half years ago because of a friend and a college roommate. My friend messaged me one day and told me to send my resume to a hiring e-mail address, and shortly after my former roommate visited his boss’s office and recommended my name out of the resume pile on his desk.
In short, my personal and professional connections landed me my first job, because although I was qualified, so were many others.
After you do find a job (fingers crossed!), you should be open to doing the same for people who the same boat you’re in right now.
In turn from my friends helping me land a job, I’ve tried to pass the word on toother friends because I know what it’s like to be working at Subway with a bachelor’s degree in business. It sucks, and if there’s any way I can help people in the situation I was in, I will.
I hope you do the same.
There is more to Life than your Career
Ultimately, a career does not necessarily guarantee happiness.
Some people, after experiencing a good amount of time in their careers, take sabbaticals to work in non-profit organizations or charities. Of course, a career can bring a lot of meaning to your life, but it’s not the ultimate measure of your purpose.
So don’t be looking at this situation as any measure of self worth, because it’s simply a small facet of what you’re here for.
Learn to appreciate the little things.
Maybe even use the time you have on your hands to explore the world around you a little bit. Make some art, go for walks, enjoy your city. Better yourself. Stay positive and enjoy life for the beautiful thing that it is.
But don’t misunderstand me.
You don’t have to be content with less than you deserve – in fact, you shouldn’t be content with less than you deserve. Go after what you want, no questions. But your joy shouldn’t rest so heavily on whatever career you find yourself in or how much money you make.
That’s a fading happiness and a bad recipe for contentment. Joy starts with a perspective, so don’t miss out on the good things by over-emphasizing the negative ones in your head.
You Still Have Time
It’s not over ‘til it’s over. Don’t give up on getting ahead. People who stop walking toward what they want rarely get what they want once they turn their backs on it. You have all the time in the world as long as you’re still breathing.
So make adjustments to your lifestyle, meet more people, re-position yourself for the better – be aware of what you need to do.
But don’t ever stop trying. Stay positive.
You have that degree, now you just need to find a place to use it, and I guarantee that somewhere out there, someone needs you to use it and will pay you accordingly.
Don’t believe me? Think I’m wrong? Are you still looking for a job? What was your post-college job hunt experience? Let me know via Twitter @Robolitious.
This is a guest post by Robert Lanterman, a freelance writer who wants to encourage those new to the job market.