I won’t lie. The post-grad job hunt was brutal. It took me 6 months to land a job. Here’s what I learned in that time, and how it can help you.
Everyone has a different journey through college. I spent my first three years planning to attend medical school. I did the whole pre-med shebang, and suddenly realized that I didn’t want to go to med school. Flash forward through a senior year of crazed exploring and I’ve graduated. College was great, but it left me sitting at home, with a biology degree and no job.
Going from the schedule-packed life of a college student to that of a job-searching grad isn’t easy. After the initial week of freedom, the days began to melt together. It’s been over a year since my own graduation, and this is how I spent my time in the post-grad job hunt tunnel.
These are the 5 Things I Learned From My Post-Grad Job Hunt
1. Don’t compare yourself to your peers, but DO check out what they’re up to.
I’m not going to lie. It was hard sitting at my parents’ house and watching almost all my friends start their jobs or begin grad school. I was happy for them, but I couldn’t help but wonder, why isn’t that me?
Every post I’ve read about the post-grad job hunt told me to stop comparing myself to others. BUT, you should definitely check out what your peers are doing.
Networking is important when it comes to job hunting.
Start with your friends and classmates. What roles are they in? What companies are they working for? Reach out to them.
If you apply to a company, it’s helpful to know someone who has already gone through the application process and might be able to put in a good word for you.
Still, it’s important to remember that how someone else lives their life isn’t going to affect how your own will turn out.
Everyone has their own journey. Some of your peers might switch careers. Others might stay in the same role for over a decade. Instead of berating yourself for not having a job while your friends have gotten their offers, take the time to reflect on yourself and your interests.
What matters to you? What are you passionate about? What are some skills that you can bring to the table?
The great thing is–you’re not necessarily locked in. You can be anything.
Feel free to check out my other post about how I got my job at a Big Tech company with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
2. Work on a personal project.
The job hunt can feel endless. It’s like running through a tunnel, but the light on the other end of it sometimes disappears. Often, I wondered if it would ever end. I’m telling you now that it will end.
It’s important to spend time away from job applications. Start a personal project. It can be anything! Building a table, working out more, learning a new instrument, or hey–starting a blog!
I painted and wrote stories. It’s not much, but these projects helped me take a mental and physical break from that gaping hole of my future.
If you’re able to find a personal project that you can add to your resume, even better! If you don’t, that’s okay too!
The most important thing is that you get a full mental break from the job hunt.
3. Create a schedule.
When the schedule-packed college days come to a screeching halt, the post-grad days can often melt together. Perhaps for the first time in your life, you don’t have to do anything. You could apply to jobs, or you could not. Simple as that.
This is why it’s important to have a schedule. It will get you out of bed with a purpose, and it will also prevent you from spending 15 hours a day submitting job apps.
If you happen to fall out of your schedule on some days, that’s okay. We’re all human.
A schedule is meant to help you, not tie you down.
I used Google Calendar to mark times for waking/sleeping, working out, applying to jobs, and working on my personal projects. Each morning, I wrote a list of small goals I wanted to complete. It could be: apply to 5 jobs, feed my dog, etc. It really helps to be able to check something off at the end of the day.
You can set aside time for whatever matters to you.
4. Learn something new.
You now have free time that you probably won’t be able to get until you retire. Make good use of it! You can take this time to learn something you’ve never had the chance to learn.
Ever wanted to learn how to use Photoshop? Or play the piano? Or make a YouTube video? Now’s the time!
I downloaded the free trials for Adobe Photoshop and Final Cut Pro, and taught myself how to use those tools. The great thing about this is that you can then add these skills to your resume.
[Related: 5 Ways To Make Your Resume Stand Out]
5. Shift your perspective.
You’re not locked in to a job. From this moment on, you can be anything. You can be anyone.
This is can be difficult, but try to have the mindset of, “Hey, I’m not locked in to a job, and I can do anything” rather than falling into the pit of comparing yourself to others.
Between frantically applying for jobs, I studied for the LSAT, started a small publishing company on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, made one video for my now-dead YouTube channel, and interviewed applicants for my university. There’s a little bit of everything in there, because I was still figuring it all out.
I learned that I’m definitely not going to be a YouTuber anytime soon, but that I enjoy the LSAT more than the MCAT. From my random adventures with Photoshop and my publishing company, I gained skills that I’ve been able to apply with my current job.
Here’s the thing–I’m still figuring it out!
Go out there–or dive into your laptop–and take on the world. It’s big and scary, yes, but you can really do anything right now.