As you inched towards the end of college the questions started.
Are you excited? What are your plans? Any job offers? I don’t know about you but I stood there with a forced smile holding back the urge to punch them in the mouth to stop the next form of interrogation from beginning (okay maybe not grandma. We’ll forgive her, but everyone else is fair game). The anxiety builds up, tears might start to gather in your eyes, and you may even feel yourself begin to hyperventilate. Why? Because you have no idea where you’re going and, after all this time, no idea what you want to do. I have a secret that no adult will tell you… THAT IS OKAY.
They say college is the best four years of your life. While I definitely agree, I’ve come to realize with time that post-graduation isn’t as bad as the reputation it has. Let’s not get me wrong here… Do I wish I still had a student ID with what felt like unlimited dollars to use at the cafeteria? Yes. Do I love having to wake up to an alarm every morning? No shot. Am I still missing living within an earshot of all my best friends? 100%. But this time (aka “post-grad”) is the time to do what you want, figure out what you like and to not play it safe. This is the time where you have absolutely no one and nothing holding you back. Go out there and get the life, the career, the job that you want… not the job that you need. Not the job your parents want you to get. Not the job that pays the most. The job you genuinely want.
Now is the only time you can create dreams and create goals with absolutely zero baggage. This is your window to achieve these aspirations so I’m going to tell you six pieces of job searching advice that I wish I had known straight out of college.
Don’t be afraid to brag.
Be proud of what you have done. If you’re anything like the people I graduated with, you’re capable of great things. Clean that resume up and do not hesitate to brag about your successes. Your resume is the single sheet of paper selling you to potential employers. If you aren’t going to state what you excel in or what you have accomplished, no one else will.
Put in your full effort.
It’s annoying. It’s draining. And god damn is it hard. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there and so have many other people, but it’s doable. I’ve redone my resume countless times and have 100+ versions of my cover letter saved in my documents. Employers are going to notice a difference between your generic resume and the resume you worked on specifically for them. Take the time to do it.
Don’t bind yourself to qualifications.
Doesn’t it seem like every job you look at needs 3-5 years of experience? Where are you supposed to get that if every entry-level job requires it? Let me let you in on another little secret… A job posting does not describe a real person. It’s like that list in your head of every characteristic you’d like in your significant other. Does that person exist? Not a chance. It’s a dream employee. I’m not pressuring you to apply for CEO positions fresh off the graduation stage, but I am urging you to apply for positions you are confident that you’d excel in and enjoy despite what the qualifications say. Never taking chances because you don’t precisely fit a list of qualifications is an awful way to live.
You will get denied.
My first job denial was heart wrenching. I had a pit in my stomach thinking was this worth it? Did I just spend over $200,000 on three degrees to scoop ice cream? WHAT IF NO ONE HIRES ME? Not to worry; I got very used to the big fat rejections after awhile and even learned a lot about the job search process and myself. All I can tell you is the blows get softer and always remind yourself that everything happens for a reason.
Know your worth.
About ten denials later, I got offered a job. While I was beyond excited and ready to accept on the spot, I sat back and looked at it. They wanted me to be available 24/7 while paying me less than my tenth grade summer job. I realized that my knowledge, my education, my skills and myself were worth more than that – and you are too. Don’t let big companies take advantage of you as a new graduate. Disparity has the ability to land you in a position where you hate your job. Stick up for yourself and know the job you want and deserve.
Enjoy what you do.
You get to live this life once. You can sit there and think that you need the huge salary for that high-end technology or those fast cars, but I’m going to tell you that I’m incredibly content driving my 1998 Buick Century because my quality of life at my job is incredible. One third of your life is spent at work; be sure you’re waking up and going to a place you enjoy. Ensure you feel comfortable with the people you are working with. You will more than likely spend more time with them than your family… While the incredibly high salary or the extensive vacation time would be amazing, you do not need them if you have a job that you do not feel the need to escape. Always remember that.
NOW GO OUT THERE. Whether you are job searching or reading this realizing you’re miserable at your current job – find the job that you genuinely love. Get the job that you enjoy and make your life happen because right now, at this moment in life, nothing standing in your way.