When we’re in school we can’t wait to finish and graduate. We try to zip through our studies so we can enter the real world. During college, we are taught everything about what we’re studying, but what we aren’t taught is what will happen when we start applying for jobs after graduation. Movies, television, and even books have told us that once we graduate the job of our dreams is just going to fall into our laps and we’ll be good to go. Man, if only it was that easy.
We might have learned how to find x in college algebra, how to write the best persuasive essay, and even how to create a standout resume, but we were never really told what it would truly be like when we started applying for jobs freshly out of college. So, I’m going to do that for you right now. I’m going to tell you eight things that they didn’t tell you about applying for a job after graduation. I know what these things are now because I learned about them the hard way. I was taught them as I experienced them, and I want to help prepare you for them when they happen to come your way. As a way to help you start applying for jobs ahead of your graduation.
1. You’ll most likely be jobless for a few months
There are a select few students who are offered a job before they graduate because they start working with a company while they’re finishing up school. Whether or not they take that opportunity is totally up to that student. The majority of us though, aren’t given that opportunity. Sometimes we work at the campus bookstore or coffee shop because we need money quickly to help pay for tuition rather than trying to land that “adult job” while you’re in school. For those of you who don’t have a job lined up after graduation, there is a good chance that you’ll be jobless for a few months – especially if you quit that bookstore or coffee shop job. It’s scary to think about, but it might happen. Now that you know this, you can start applying for jobs before you graduate. Even if it isn’t that “adult dream job,” start applying for jobs so you don’t start your post-grad life jobless. And if you do, like I did, just keep sending out those applications. Something will come along eventually.
2. You might have to work at a job that doesn’t have anything to do with what you study for a while
While you continue to apply for your dream job there’s a good chance that you’ll have to work some jobs that have nothing to do with your career goals. This is okay because it’s providing you will an income and you don’t plan on being at the job forever. You can use the time at this starter job to vamp up your resume and continue applying for jobs that fit what you truly want to do. Continue to work on all your creative projects and try to get them out and seen so employers can see what you can do. Take this time to gain some experience and then get out there and keep reaching for that dream job. Again, it might take a little bit but that job you want will come. You just have to entertain some other ones first.
3. Internships are actually pretty important, paid or not
I know that sometimes we can be turned off by the word “internship,” especially if it has the word “unpaid” attached to it. We might think that internships aren’t worth the time because they aren’t paying jobs, but this is often not the case. Internships are all about providing you with the experience that other employers are looking for. Even though you might not be getting paid during your internship, they provide you with the opportunity to learn new skills and improve on the ones you already have. They also enable some of your work to make its way out into the world and get seen by other professionals and employers. You’ll gain knowledge from internships that jobs might think you already have so they won’t provide. And who knows? If you’re lucky, you can secure yourself one of those rare paid internships and get your foot in the door while earning a paycheck. Internships help boost your resume and are a good way to start while you continue applying for jobs that are paid and closer to where you want to end up.
4. It’s all about experience
As you’re applying for jobs you’ll discover that it is all about experience. Most companies want to hire people who have experience in the area that the job covers. And you’re going to ask, “well how do I get experience if I can’t get hired?” I’ve asked myself that a number of times. Experience comes from those other jobs that seem like they might not have fit into your career path at the moment and those unpaid internships. Every ounce of experience that you gain while you are applying for jobs that fit with your career goals is the experience that future employers are going to look at. They want you to have experience, so start gathering up all that experience while you continue the hunt for your dream job.
5. You might have to move
Sometimes applying for your dream job will require you to move; either to a new part of town or to a new city altogether. When you’re applying for jobs that you really want, sacrifices might have to be made and moving could be one of those sacrifices. I grew up in a small town in New Mexico, but I had the hopes of becoming an editor for a publisher. After applying for jobs in New Mexico, I learned that the publishing field was pretty much non-existent in that state. I then made the sacrifice to move to California where I would have a better chance of getting a publishing job. Back when I was in school, the thought of moving didn’t even occur to me. When you graduate, your dream job might be in a different state. You have to make the decision on whether or not you want to pursue it and move to that new state.
6. You’re going to get frustrated with how much applying you’ll do
You’re going to be applying for jobs for a while. You’re going to apply and apply until you finally get that “adult job” that you’ve always wanted and that might take years. And because of this, at times it’s going to get frustrating. You’ll get frustrated when you first start applying for jobs and you don’t get hired. You’ll get frustrated when you get stuck at your industry job because the other jobs you’re applying for aren’t hiring. You’ll get frustrated when hiring managers tell you that you don’t have the experience they’re looking for. It’s going to happen, applying for jobs is frustrating. But you can’t let it stop you from continuing to apply. Don’t let the frustration of rejection make you settle into a job that you don’t really want.
7. You might rethink your whole career path
We know that applying for jobs is going to be frustrating and that’s going to make us want to rethink our career decisions. If you are having a hard time getting hired by a job that is a part of your career path then there’s a good chance that you are going to rethink that path and may even consider changing it. Similar to thinking about changing or actually changing your major in college, you might think about changing your career path. This is fine because sometimes a change is just what you need to find a job. Just remember to change your mind because you truly want to and not just because the job hunt has gotten hard. Try not to let your frustrations convince you that you are on the wrong career path, but also keep your mind open to new options and opportunities if you think they are what’s best for you.
8. It’ll all be worth it when you land a gig you love
We all have to go through it, we all have to suffer through applying for jobs after graduation. And, yes, oftentimes it’s going to suck. It’s going to be frustrating, it’s going to make you want to pull your hair out, and it’s probably going to make you question what it is that you are doing with your life. But in the end, it is all going to be worth it. You are eventually going to get that job that you have dreamed about and love. All the stress that came from applying for jobs over the years is going to be wiped away when you land your “dream adult job.” Keep pushing and striving for that job, because now that you’ve read this list, you can fully prepare for the rollercoaster that may come as you work your way to it. You now have an idea of what might come post-graduation, but I think you’re up for the challenge.