Beating the New Grad Blues
Whether you framed it and hung it on your wall or have it collecting dust in your closet, your university degree or college diploma is yours. It’s there, and it’s never going away. September is here, and it’s likely the first September since you were three years old where you have no idea what’s in store and you have nowhere in particular to go. That feeling can be unsettling. Many new grads feel sad, confused, anxious, and overwhelmed the fall following their commencement. And headlines about youth unemployment rates don’t help. But there are plenty of reasons to feel excited about this time in your life.
Youth unemployment in perspective
Headlines in major publications over the last couple of years have bemoaned the Millennial plight to find meaningful work after graduation. Heck, at Adecco, we’ve written about it ourselves a few times. Currently, the youth unemployment rate in Canada continues to sit at just under 14% – and that’s despite the dramatic job losses reported for July 2013. While this rate is about double the general unemployment and is of some concern for the economy, it’s important to remember that newspaper and magazine headlines are written to attract attention. In fact, many critics of such publications point to the fact that the youth unemployment rate in Canada was higher during the recessions of the early 1980s and early 1990s. They also point out that, when it comes to youth employment, Canada is one of the best places in the Western World to be. Greece, for instance, hit a record youth unemployment rate this summer of 65%. While these points might be of little consolation when you’re a Millennial struggling to find work, remember that perspective is everything. There is work for you here. Economies change and sometimes it’s a matter of adjusting your expectations and being patient.
New grad jobs: Some advice
While it’s not true of everyone, it is true that some new grads expect too much right out of school when it comes to how quickly they’ll be hired, at what rank they’ll start, and how much money they’ll earn. Most new grad jobs out there are entry level, regardless of industry or education, and that means entry-level money. There are a few things to accept regarding all new grad jobs:
Job searches can take a while
Even in the best of economic times, it can take several months to be hired. That’s why it’s best to start applying several months before graduation.
You can gain experience through contract and volunteer work
Apply to whatever you feel you’re qualified to do, but also register with employment agencies because you never know what they might have and where it might lead – even if what they find you is temporary. Agencies can also help improve your resume, hone your interview skills, and set you down the right career path. Volunteering is another option. It should be relatively easy to do, and it’s a great way to strengthen your resume, make connections, and show that you’re a hard worker with conviction.
You’ll have to pay your dues
Your dream job may take several steps – and years – to get to. You may even wake up one day to find that the dream job you wanted isn’t your dream job anymore. Remember that life is full of both disillusionment and discovery.
More tips for adjusting to life after school
There’s more to life than work, just as there’s a lot more advice you take beyond resume writing and job interview tips. To ease your transition from post-secondary life, do the following. They’re good for you work life, and every other aspect of it.
School just ended. While it’s important to find a job, it’s also important to let the change sink in. Don’t feel as though you need to change every aspect about your life as quickly as possible. Hang out with the friends that are near you, and stay in touch with those who are far away – the internet and social media have made this easier than ever before. Continue to enjoy yourself and ponder what you really want to do.
Get used to uncertainty
Courses and co-ops have strict schedules, but jobs can change at any time for any reason – for reasons in your control or beyond it. Find a balance between having goals and going with the flow. As mentioned, you never know what you will or won’t enjoy until you do it.
Be fiscally responsible
This goes for partying and especially for paying down student loans if you have them. Stick to a budget and, when it comes to those loans, pay them down as much and as quickly as you can. Grace periods don’t last forever and, if you can, start paying down your loan before it ends to reduce the principal.
It’s easy, especially when you’re job hunting, to become nocturnal. But you’re not an owl, so sleeping in too much, or not getting enough sleep because you have a job but were out partying the night before, can throw off your entire system, affecting your proofreading abilities, interviewing skills, and job performance. Go to bed at the same time every night to get up at the same time every morning.