No one told me that after college, I still had to put in work to get where I wanted to be. No one told me that after college, I wasn’t guaranteed a job in my field of choice. No one told me that after college, it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing. So believe me when I tell you, I’ve never felt more like a failure than when I graduated and spent a year working retail at H&M. Don’t get me wrong, H&M is an amazing company and I would recommend anyone to work there. Let’s be clear though, I graduated college with a lot of debt and I’m not even counting the years I have left to get my master’s or go to law school. Like most, if not all college students, working retail wasn’t exactly the next step that I had in mind. I put in four years of hard work, just to be shut down for almost every position I applied for. Although I had a decent job and made just enough to stay afloat, I started to fall into the “Post-Grad Depression” that everyone talks about. Let me tell you, it’s real and you’d better be prepared for it.
- Comparisons are your enemy! Not everyone goes through this phase after college. There are people out there who find a job immediately after or even a month before graduating. Don’t let that drag you down even further than where you are mentally. While it can be a disappointment, their path is not yours. Just because someone has a job lined up, doesn’t mean it’s their ultimate goal nor does that mean that they are even happy at their job. I knew people after college who got a job right away. Although I was slightly envious, I realized something; they hated their job and I loved mine at H&M. If that meant that I had to wait it out a little longer than expected then so be it. That dream job of yours is on the way. Be patient and be thankful for where you are in the now; regardless of where others may be. Their success doesn’t make you a failure.
- Build your resume while you wait! Part of the reason I couldn’t find a job right away was due to the fact that my resume wasn’t up to par. It wasn’t until after college that I started researching how to create the perfect resume and took the initiative to improve mine. Once I did that, I started to get interviews back to back. Although, I didn’t get offered any positions right away, getting invited to interviews was a start.
- Create your profile for job sites! My two personal favorites are LinkedIn and Indeed. I actually got hired in my career from using Indeed. Once you have the perfect resume, you just have to create an account, upload it, and fill in the missing pieces. It’s the same process with LinkedIn; although LinkedIn provides more resources for networking than Indeed does. Another thing that made me fall in love with these two sites are the filter options. I don’t know about you but, I absolutely hate job hunting. Especially when there’s so many options to choose from and you don’t know where to start. As a recent college graduate, the smartest thing to do is to filter down your search for what you are qualified for. For example, I would search Criminal Justice then filter the options to “full-time”, “entry level”, “willing to travel 50 miles from home”, etc. After learning how to do this, I found a job in less than a month.
- Consider relocating! Part of the reason why I moved to Atlanta was because there were no jobs in Michigan. At least, there weren’t any that I was interested in actually working at. I found myself applying for the least favorable Criminal Justice jobs just for the income. I did NOT go to college to work somewhere where I wouldn’t be happy. I had already anticipated that it would take me some time to gain experience for my dream job so I at least wanted a job that would be considered a stepping stone.
- No matter where you work, always network! Networking is about more than just talking to people in your career field. Networking is talking to anybody who can help you get ahead. I never thought I’d network at H&M but, I did. I’ve always been a hard worker no matter the job. When I left H&M, the store manager told me that I could always reach out to her if I needed a reference or a letter of recommendation which I’m definitely going to take advantage of as I start applying for my master’s and law school. The point is, anyone can help you get ahead in your career or even help you jump start it. A valuable lesson I learned in a research class is “START WHERE YOU ARE”. That’s where your biggest impact comes from.
Post-Grad Depression doesn’t have to last forever and it certainly doesn’t have to take over your mindset. With patience, dedication, and motivation, you’re bound to bring yourself out of it. The good thing is unlike other types of depression, Post-Grad is one hundred percent curable once you get out of the rut and take off into your career. So instead of sitting around and letting it control you, use the down time to form a plan and take action.
Congrats and good luck!