Post Grad Life: What NOT to do When Unemployed

As the ‘first day of school’ Facebook statuses roll in, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic. Sure it’s only been a month and half since my college graduation, but being still unemployed, this time has felt like an entirely new stage in my life. I’ve made a lot of mistakes during this uncertain time between the handing of a degree to obsessively checking my email for people who may have offered me a job. So here’s what I learned you should NOT do during this emotional roller coaster of a ride called post grad life.

1. Complain

It’s so easy and tempting. Being unemployed has made me feel a bit purposeless and lost. I’ve had these grandeur dreams of “real life” since high school and now that it’s not what I envisioned I can’t help but feel completely disappointed in myself and often too high expectations of my life. However, going to others to simply complain about your problems will not cure you of your worries. It will simply magnify it. It will also make others not want to be around you anymore. Of course, sharing your feelings with close family and friends is a healthy and cathartic process. But if complaints are the first and last thing on your lips in all of your conversations it will limit you from looking toward a solution. Complaining simply makes you stay in your problems.

2. Apply for Anything and Everything

Trust me it is just not a good idea. Once I was unemployed for a good chunk of time (in my melodramatic mind like three weeks) I started applying to all jobs that had just the tiniest bit of relation to what I really wanted to do. That leads to an interview and if you’re lucky or somewhat unlucky enough to make it to the next step ultimately you’ll have to turn it down. First, because you won’t enjoy it and second, because you’ll have no idea how to do the job. So do not start pressing the submit button for your resume to everything you see. That just leads you on an unnecessary path and wasted time spent pursuing what your really want.

3. Think You Are Too Good for a Job

The exact opposite of #2 holds truth as well. The sad and disillusioning reality is that you are 99.99% likely to not get your dream job straight out of college. In fact, you will probably not even get a job that is mid-level to that dream. Your best bet is in entry-level positions in your field but even those can require the maddening 2-3 years of experience. “It says entry-level! Come on!” I know right! It’s quite ridiculous, this job market. Now I am not saying you have to settle but lowering your expectations if you’re like me is a good idea. Just remember that you’ll get to your dream job some day, but you have to pay your dues first. Money is money and if all you have now are boredom filled days and rejections it may be time to apply for lower level positions.

4. Show Up to an Interview WITHOUT Doing Your Research

This is a huge no-no. I’ve been in the awkward situation, more than once, of not doing my homework about a position. Then when you go through an interview realizing you have absolutely no interest in the job you have to tell them at the end or passive aggressively through email like me afterwards. Do your research! It will save you the car ride there and back and also a lot of-again disappointment.

5. Give Up On Your Hobbies

Being unemployed will offer you a lot of free time. When that happens we will often find our rescue in Hulu or Netflix. However, after watching six seasons of Friends I’ve realized man, that was a lot of wasted time. Being unemployed and having free time gives you a chance to be productive. Rather than staring at a screen do the things you are passionate about even if you are not getting paid for it. Perfect your skills, learn the guitar, paint a picture. Pursue your passions, create something, help someone, and do something to make someone else smile. That is time not wasted.

6. Give Up On Your Friendships

This is a really tough one. Whether your the first of your friends to graduate or the last, it can be hard to feel like you’ve lost all your friends to separate cities and jobs. It’s true that you won’t speak to most of them. But you have the power to choose who you want to keep in your life. Starting fresh alone can be hard but with some support, even across state borders, can give you the strength to keep moving. So choose those friends wisely and make an effort to keep them in your life.

7. Listen to What Everyone Else Says You Should Do

I’ve had to deal with people, strangers, and close one’s who have advised me to pick a different major, pick a different career path, and look into finding different jobs since college started. Those voices haven’t ended since graduation, in fact they have increased with unemployment. It can feel very hurtful even if they are giving logical advice in their mind. However, if you have a dream you have to protect it and not let it wither away even if the situation now seems a bit dim and doubtful. If you know exactly what you want to do with your life, if you passionately have a dream, then you have to work even harder to make that dream a reality even when everyone else says don’t do it. Just because you may be unemployed now or found a job that isn’t exactly what you wanted or expected doesn’t mean you have to stop pursuing your dream. Find a way for yourself and follow it. Period.

8. Put Your Life On Hold

Do not waste your time with all of this free time. No more sleeping in and waking up to a P.M. sort of life. Just because your days and nights are free doesn’t mean you should be. Keep on searching for jobs even if it may be below your pay grade or even if it may be a bit above your level of experience. Follow your dreams now on your own terms, since when you do get a job those terms will be somebody else’s. Stop waiting for people to hand you your dream. I’ve realized that most of young life if about waiting for people to hand you things- a diploma, a degree, a job. Now that you are “free” make the most out of your freedom. If you can’t find the perfect job for you then create it yourself. Work hard and get used to always working hard for what you really want. Because no one will be handing you things anymore, so stop waiting for a hand out and do what you’ve been dreaming of now.

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