You know the feeling: That nerve-racking moment when you realize graduation is slowly creeping up and you can’t seem to get a call back from any of the companies you’ve applied to. All of your friends are constantly talking about interviews and offers they’ve received, your extended family keeps nagging you regarding what you’re doing after graduation, and no matter how many jobs you apply to, you can’t even land an interview.
While professors, friends and family may make you feel pressured to have a job lined up right after you graduate, there are many ways you can take something perceived as negative and turn it into something positive.
1. Take time to unwind
For starters, take a moment to stop and breathe. Even better, go look at yourself in the mirror and give yourself a compliment. Next, make a list of all the things you’d rather do than sit at a desk in a stuffy office in the middle of July.
Having “me” time is essential to every woman, especially after an undoubtedly busy college career. If you don’t have a job after graduation, take this time to relax and focus on you. Yes, it might be a little disheartening knowing you aren’t employed, but it could also be your last summer to have fun with your friends and family before you have to work a 9-to-5 job, five days a week, for the rest of your life. Start checking things off of your bucket list, and be sure to take risks and enjoy yourself. Maybe treat yourself to a spa day; a mani/pedi or massage may help relieve the stress that built up during your job search. You could also go on vacation. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive; take a drive with a few friends or family members to a beach nearby for a few days or visit a place you’ve always wanted to see. Also, appreciate the fact that you won’t be setting your alarm for 6 a.m. every morning… yet. That, alone, seems like a vacation to us!
2. Set goals
Just because you aren’t working a full-time job by June doesn’t mean you have to give up! Keep looking, but don’t feel bad if you don’t hear back right away.
Try setting a more realistic goal for yourself. Maybe you want to be employed by September, or even January. Strive to reach your goals, because let’s face it, nothing feels better than meeting a deadline!
Next, try following up with a few companies you truly have your eye on, or go on LinkedIn and see if any of your connections might know someone from the company. Finding a job through your existing network makes the search a lot easier. So reach out to your network, and then reach out to their network!
3. Take on new opportunities
While waiting for a good job opportunity to come your way, you could take an internship position to help expand your skill set, even if it’s unpaid. This will bring you one step closer to your dream job. Diana DiNapoli, a 2014 university graduate, decided to take on an internship when she didn’t immediately land a full-time job at the end of her time in college. “As frustrated as was I when I didn't land a full-time job after graduation, I decided to work as an intern. This allowed me to add another experience to my resume and gave me an edge when I went on interviews,” she says. “In my interview for my current job, it showed how dedicated I was to the field by sacrificing my ‘last’ summer and using it to build my resume. I didn't have to tell my current company how dedicated I was; my resume spoke for itself. Currently, I work full time at a company I love and I firmly believe my summer internship helped me get there.” Even if your dream job is in NYC and you live miles away, you can always apply for a remote internship. Such an opportunity will allow you to gain the skills you need, while also being extremely flexible.
Though not necessarily a part of your original plan, it’s nevertheless important to be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. If you’re a PR major, for example, your first position doesn’t need to be as an account coordinator at a PR firm. You could get a job as an administrative assistant just to get your foot in the door. Then, once you’re there, do your best to go above and beyond what is expected of you. Your supervisor will notice, and you’ll start rising up that ladder.
Finally, be open to any job prospects that may come your way. Rowan University Professor Cristin Farney recommends saying yes to all opportunities and to keep your mind open in order to get your supervisor to notice you. “Don’t be afraid to try new things, professionally or personally,” she says. “It is the only way you’ll grow.”
4. Learn something new
Most importantly, keep learning, no matter what. Even if you aren’t working, keep your brain busy by taking an online course in something that you’ve always wanted to learn more about, whether it’s directly related to your career path or not. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to build a website or improve your cooking skills. Well, now is the time!
Just remember, you have the rest of your life to work. This isn’t to say you should push off working until you’re 40 years old, but remember, being unemployed in your twenties is totally okay.