Growing up, I was always the student with the perfectly sharpened pencils, color-coded folders, and gold stars at the top of every assignment. I had a sense of self discipline and a Type A disposition that made my parents jobs quite easy. As time passed, my conquest for gold stars morphed into the unwavering desire to get into a top tier university. Hell, I started touring college campuses my sophomore year of high school; I was THAT excited at the prospect of higher education, independence, and the success I assumed would follow the carefully curated young adult life I was set to fulfill. But college was tough. Internships were tough. The collegiate experience was nowhere near as cut and dry as I envisioned it would be, and my passions often changed more frequently than my mood would. That’s not to say that I let my stress cloud my judgment; I completed multiple internships and graduated without a problem. The only hurdle left to tackle was finding someone to hire me.
While walking beside some of my closest friends the day of my university commencement in May, an occasion that should have been the proudest moment of my life thus far, I was overwhelmed with fear and disappointment. I had not yet secured a full time job offer, something I was certain would not evade me given the years upon years of “preparation” I had put in. The eery chords of Pomp and Circumstance played on, and I was left to face the reality of my graduation day. Every commencement speaker says, “when I was sitting where you are, I had no idea what I wanted to do!” But they are often incredibly wealthy and successful individuals who fail to truly understand the differences in the job market that Millennials now face.
It is difficult to feel completely satisfied at such an occasion when the future is so utterly unknown. I recently signed a lease to remain in DC, at least for another 9 months, and all I could picture was sitting isolated and jobless in my apartment, needing yet additional emotional and financial support from my (ROCKSTAR) parents. After a quick and subtle pity party, I realized that feeling disappointed and helpless would do absolutely nothing to change my current unemployment. It would take diligence, creativity, and steadfast confidence in order to overcome this hurdle.
Though I am still in the midst of the job process, I do have suggestions to any peers or fellow college graduates who might be in the same situation. Firstly, have patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and often these complicated HR departments have a better insight on who would best fit a position than we are led to believe. Secondly, talk to EVERYBODY. That kid you interned with who works at Google now? Text him. Your Aunt’s friend who works in marketing at Tesla? Initiate a LinkedIn conversation. Also, maintaining a daily routine is key. I love sleeping in, ordering off of Postmates, and watching reruns of Below Deck Mediterranean more than the next gal, but routine elicits productivity, which is key during a time of uncertainty.
Lastly, please be kind with yourself. You just spent (probably) 4 years working for a piece of paper that says you did something REALLY important; take a moment to breathe and reevaluate your passions and longterm career goals. Even in the past month, my careers aspirations have slightly changed and are far more reflective of my interests and strengths. Post-grad life is difficult to navigate no matter the circumstances, but positivity and diligence is paramount. Hopefully I will be reporting soon with news of a job offer; but until then, I’m going to enjoy being a 22 year old woman in DC. I have my entire life to sit behind a desk.