I graduated in May of 2010 from a small private university in Southwest Florida. What met me as I walked off the stage in my cap and gown was a terrible job market and a slew of anxiety attacks. I didn’t know what I wanted and everything I’d been told – you know, going to college will get you a good job – seemed to be crumbling before my eyes.
I ended up being unemployed for six months before I landed my first real world job. Has it been a glamorous ride to financial freedom and career bliss since then? Absolutely not. But there are several things I have learned along the way. Things I wish I would have known the day I graduated.
1. Freelancing is an option.
In the time that I was unemployed I started looking into creating my own source of income. I’d always wanted to be a writer so my mission was to figure out how to get paid for it. It started off slow – in fact, I made five bucks the first month I tried freelance writing full time – but with time it has grown into a great source of extra income. My freelancing and blogging endeavors are also responsible for me getting a job as an English instructor and then as a Personnel Administrator at an employment agency.
Take a look at what skills you have and see how you can make them marketable to other people. You’d be surprised the kinds of services people are willing to pay for. You can also put it on your resume as a form of experience if you ever decide to get a traditional job.
2. Don’t listen to the news.
Turning off the news station is probably the first thing I should have done after graduating. In case you haven’t noticed, our news sources are pretty sensationalized. Need an example? When the markets are down it’s all they can talk about – thus causing investors to get scared and create a sell-off. On the other hand, when the markets are doing decently well they barely mention it.
In short, listening to the news will scare the pants off of you more than anything. If you really need to know the headlines of the day ask around. There’s no need to brood over bad news that will kill your spirits and keep you from reaching your full potential.
3. You don’t have to do something related to your degree
A college degree isn’t necessarily career training. As a result, tons of people end up working a field they never even studied. For instance, I work within the recruiting industry even though a degree in a field that I completed online. I didn’t study human resources, I merely showed an interest in recruiting and career consulting through my writing. Employers want to see that you have a drive to succeed at anything you put your mind to. For example, if you graduated with a degree in Organizational Development and Leadership, you can still be considered a valuable asset to the industry. Companies are looking for innovative employees who can bring something to the table. Whether it be reconstructing the way you organize how you recruit someone to becoming a manager, a degree that you completed online or at a local campus will give you the edge you need to land a fulfilling job.
In short, don’t think that you are confined to a certain career path because of what you studied. Sometimes you need to think outside of the box in order to find your path.
Graduating doesn’t have to be scary. Are times tough right now? Yes. But times have been tough before. Let us remember that we’re not the first generation to hit a rough patch and we certainly won’t be the last. With a little intuition and creativity we can work our way through this.
Amanda is a personnel administrator for a Miami-based employment agency and a freelance writer. When she is not helping recruiters or writing for clients, she runs Grad Meets World, a popular Gen Y blog where she discusses health, career, personal finance, entrepreneurship, and more. She is also the author of the highly anticipated ebook Grad Meets World: The First Year Out of College.