October 24, 2011
As college came to a blurry close, I noticed that everyone around me seemed to be garnering employment like it was easy money. People began mentioning their plans to work at Merrill, or Bain, or Delloitte or some other one-name company whose actual purpose I only pretended to understand--while I was still un-gainfully un-employed. “Oh you’ll find something,” everyone would say, “you’re going to be a college graduate!” However, graduation day came and went and I was still scanning Monster.com daily for any job that paid over minimum wage; wondering if there was a way to sell one’s degree for food/shelter that wasn’t provided by my mother.
After a few sad weeks of unemployed wallowing and intense Craigslist Job Hunting, I realized something. Many of my friends had jumped at jobs they didn’t necessarily want, simply because they feared no other opportunity would come their way. My unemployed ass had the time and luxury to figure out what I really wanted to do. I could be an entry-level-anything! A public relations assistant, a fashion-merchandising assistant, a healthcare consulting assistant. The world was my entry-level oyster! This, however, did not change the fact that I couldn’t find a job, was living on mama’s dime and sleeping in the same room where I’d previously been visited by the Tooth Fairy. So I decided to do something.
I filled my schedule with activities that would not only distract me, but would also make me a better candidate for whatever fabulous job I’d nab in the future. I got an internship and a part-time job, beginning what I liked to call my “post-grad two-step.” When my great-Aunt Ethel asked what I was doing with my life, I didn’t have to tell her I was sitting at my computer waiting for the Employment Fairy to sprinkle me with magic job dust. I was working! 2 jobs! In fact, I was busier than some of my friends with 9-to-5s! In the same way that the procurement of one man will make you more desirable to rest of the male species, the procurement of one job will make you infinitely more attractive to the rest of the job market.
Six months into my post-grad hustle, I was offered a job at a company that I love. I wouldn’t have given up those months of soul-searching, career-obsessing and job-stalking for anything - they allowed me to get my priorities in order.
So my advice to you? Keep your head up. Keep busy. Do all of the things you said you would “when you had time.” What about that short story you’d been meaning to write or the oil painting you’d always wanted to make? Start on it. Volunteer for a charity or organization that you’re passionate about. Give back. The free time that you’re being afforded as you search for the perfect job shouldn’t be seen as lost time. It’s a time to find yourself. Look at it as a blessing, because before you know it, you will have been working for 20 years, deep in a career you love, wishing you had a chance to rest, relax and regroup.