To all of you who graduated and have a secure job (with benefits!), congrats!
Bonus points to you if you graduated with a major that didn’t necessarily promise a steady income and have a secure job — who said the engineers and the premed students were the only ones with promising futures?
You worked hard during undergrad to turn that internship into your dream job, or you slept with the right person/people to get to where you’re at today. Either way, you all are truly the stars of our generation; you are the young adults that my mom would probably be proud of.
However, to those of us who weren’t so fortunate to land a job or even a paid internship remotely close to the career that we want to head towards:
life sucks, huh?
After we grasp that cold fringe between our fingertips and move that tassel over to the left side, what’s next? Are we moving back home with our parent(s)? Is it time to turn our part time retail/serving job into a full time career as we struggle to pay for rent? Are we going to actually consider MORE SCHOOLING and apply to grad school to buy ourselves more time before having to enter the real world aka having to repay all of the loans we’ve taken out?
We all have our own goals, our own motivations, and our own levels of pride. Being unemployed after graduation, contrary to the disappointed lectures brought to you by your parents, is not the end of the world. Whether you’re unemployed for a few months or even a year, you can get through it.
There’s a silver lining to which I deem unemployment — or what I like to call, “funemployment” — acceptable.
There’s a difference between being lazy + unemployed versus being unemployed not necessarily by choice; there are a lot less jobs available with our fluctuating economy and the rise of technology. Before reading any further, if you are a post-graduate who is unemployed and sad but also has just been partying it up in your own pity (and in other places as well), take this piece of advice instead of continuing to read on: send out some damn resumes and get rejected before you start complaining.
I graduated last spring with an English major and a Film TV minor. I interned every summer at various companies, from working in e-commerce fashion companies to marketing and researching at a large company in Korea. I was part of a campus organization for four years and volunteered at summer camp for youth in LAUSD. I was an active writer for various blogs and publications, and, most importantly, I had like over 1k followers on Instagram.
Talk about a stacked resume.
They called my name, I walked across the stage, shook the hand of a professor whom I’d never taken class from, smiled for the photo, and went back to my seat. I went through the motions of graduation, but apparently that moment was defining: it was the beginning of my adult life.
I didn’t have a job lined up, and I didn’t know what direction I really wanted to go in. I’m sort of a “jack of some trades, master of like two of them maybe,” and all I knew was that I wanted to write and have an important voice and an opinion worthy of reading. But everyone wants to be a damn blogger these days; everyone’s lives are just so f*cking interesting that our narcissistic generation wants to document it and somehow get famous for it.
We’re blindly ambitious but no one really wants to learn how to read Braille.
I moved back home because I’m not the type of person who likes to live sporadically — I was never that independent to begin with. I told myself that I was saving money on rent and would find a job first, and then move back out to LA to start my life again. I set a deadline for myself that in two months, I would have a job and move back out there.
Two months and hundreds of resumes later, I was still wasting $4 a day at Starbucks (though I’m basically set on my gold member status til like 2020).
I was starting to fall into a mild depression — why did no one want to hire me? My resume is stacked, I have a pretty great personality that translates in my cover letters (I’m a writer, damn it), and I put 200% into everything I do.
Fall turned into winter, and my friends were getting promoted while I was contemplating on becoming a club promotor to make money.
I stopped applying for jobs around the time that my sister decided to share her Netflix account with me, to which I started and finished Gilmore Girls (twice), How I Met Your Mother, Friends (5+ times), Melissa and Joey, Gossip Girl, Parks & Recreation, and so many more — each series finished within a week.
One night, I had an epiphany that I needed to get my sh*t together, and began feverishly sending out resumes at 2am. I got a call the next day from a Cosmo magazine, offering me my dream job as a freelance writer, and I could stay in California. I had benefits and a salary that could buy too many pairs Jeffrey Campbells, and I can truly attribute this success to just realizing that I needed to get up and do something.
Just kidding. Let’s be real — that type of thing happens rarely, ok?
I ended up secretly applying to grad school because I honestly wanted to see if I could get in (I like competing with myself). One day, I got a letter saying I actually got in. Weird.
After a lot of contemplation/arguments with my mom on whether it was even necessary or if I was just doing this to put off being an adult, I ended up accepting my offer to get my masters in education to become a high school English teacher. My plan, though, is to get this degree now and teach a little later in life, because I currently look like a high school student at age 23. However, it felt good to at least be doing something intellectually stimulating.
From there, I started to push myself again. I began producing more content for all of the blogs I wrote for, I decided to try and be one of those #fitspo girls and got a gym membership, and I found more freelance working opportunities. I knew that I was working on my own life and moving at my own pace, and once I understood that, I was able to understand how to move forward.
Winter turned to spring, my friends were reviewing their current jobs and their next steps, and I was taking currently taking steps towards my idea of success.
Now, I’m ghost writing for a few things, in school as a full-time student, and am about to make the move out to LA in a few weeks to start a big girl job.
I’ve also lost a solid 8 pounds thanks to my attempts at becoming a sexy #fitspiration girl, hooray!
So, my funemployed post-grad, what am I trying to tell you?
You are truly the only person that can pick yourself up and start again when you’re feeling like you’re going to just be unemployed forever. Just in case you need some guidance on how to avoid falling into a slump, here are my personal tips that I’ve picked up along the way:
Don’t compare your successes (or lack thereof) with the successes of others.
Why the hell should you be defined by what your best friend is doing? If anything, use his/her success as motivation, but never use it as an excuse to put yourself down.
We all move at our own pace — just make sure you’re moving.
My theory on feeling sorry for yourself is that you can only complain if you are actively trying. It’s like complaining about Obama being president when you didn’t even take the time to go vote. If you don’t actively participate, you don’t get to participate at all.
Send out your resumes constantly.
Go through those Glass Doors, Link In with some people — heck, even get on Craig’s list.
Keep busy while your life/future is under construction.
Join a gym, pick up a new hobby, learn how to knit, TRAVEL. Trust me, you’re not going to have this type of free time for a long.. LONG time.
Regulate how much fun you can have.
Just because you’re funemployed does NOT mean you should be caught at every bar, every concert, and every music event. Most people go out as a break from their hectic work lives, and they deserve it! I’m not saying you don’t deserve it, but try to regulate your activities so that you’re not just spending money drinking and partying every night because you’re funemployed. Instead, try to regulate yourself and implement a reward system: you can go out to that music festival in August if you send out 30 resumes a week until the event. You’re creating your own incentive and ultimately helping yourself.
There are a lot of factors that work against you when you’re unemployed and fresh out of college. You go through a lot of moments of inadequacy, and you begin to slow down, even stop at some points. However, as long as you’re staying active, there’s no stopping you. Stay hungry.
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