There’s an expectation that if you’re talented or once you go away to college, and maybe even law or graduate school, after all that there’ll be a big, shiny new job crafted just for you waiting at the end of the tunnel. How can anybody ignore your delicate genius! That’s the narrative our parents tell us and it’s the narrative society stuffs in our brains, especially those of us who were the first people in our families to go to college. For us, college was our one and only chance to become upwardly mobile, to get bougie, to have opportunities that our parents and grandparents didn’t.
During those formative college years we were supposed to be serious and major in something practical and important sounding like Biochemistry or Engineering, learning the proper way to hold a wine glass in between problem sets. But college is all fun and red cups until that last year, where you face the reality of the job market, when you finally have a degree in hand — which, amazing by the way — but not a paycheck. And you know what that means: lots of freelancing and unpaid internships, no more sample sales, much more Ramen, and maybe even moving back in with your parents until you get things figured out.
Job hunting is an excruciating experience you have to get used to when you hit the real world because it’s all about dealing with rejection, and nobody likes that. You’ve done so well in college and out on the job market you suddenly and pretty harshly realize that actually there are a million qualified and even over-qualified people applying for all the same jobs as you. In a way, we’re all mislead because we’re taught to believe that schooling + being smart = automatic job. And that’s just not the case, if it ever was.
When you’re in the thick of job hunting season, talking with your Campus Career Center (the CCC), you’ve sent out like 500,000 applications and nobody seems interested. No call backs, just a constant stream of rejection emails or pitch black silence altogether. Or maybe you get an interview but don’t ever move beyond that stage. What gives?
To make matters worse, if that’s even the right way to talk about it, judging by Facebook it seems like your friends are all landing jobs at the leading firms and agencies or at cool start-ups and record labels in New York or L.A. or some place you really want to live. You genuinely feel happy for them, you really do, but you can’t help but wonder what you’re doing wrong, why things aren’t going so smoothly for you. Haven’t you done everything “right”?
Job hunting is a real test of confidence, not to mention ambition. It’s so easy to want to throw in the towel after so much rejection. You’re accustomed to getting amazing comments on your papers, to easily rising as the president of the Honors Literature Club where you organized guest lectures with famous writers. Confident, ambitious people make their dreams happen come hell or high water. Why? Because they never give up. Don’t fold to the bullying, mean girls power of rejection. Your day will come, if you let it.
You have to believe that you will earn the job you deserve. Always keep pushing to make yourself a better person, to stay relevant, to constantly improve your particular skill set. That all seems like pretty normal advice.
But sometimes, and actually more often than not, you have to create your own opportunities. Success comes easiest to people who do things on their own and create opportunities for themselves, because nobody can do you better than you can. We don’t always have to follow the standard path society wants us to take. Take a cue from all those crazily successful people out there who didn’t even go to college or people who immediately started working on bringing their awesome ideas into real life. Sometimes the uncharted path is way more exciting and fulfilling anyway.