It’s tough. No, it’s not tough. It freakin’ sucks sometimes. It’s hard to watch the rest of your friends pack their bags, move to cities across the country, and begin their young adult lives. But know one thing: you are not a failure.
2011 marked one of the toughest for college grads. Nearly 53.6 percent, or more than half, of all college graduates with bachelor’s degrees did not have jobs or were underemployed, working at a little bit above minimum wage, data from U.S. Department of Labor and Census Bureau revealed. If you’re unemployed and looking, know that you are not alone. Getting a job will take some persistence, but don’t forget to see the value in time off.
Soul-searching: You’ve been working hard for the past four years. For some of us, a victory lap was needed. Did you ever stop to think that it might be time to just take a freakin’ break? The real world is full of its antics, it’s ups and downs, and having the opportunity to bask in your youth for some time can be helpful in figuring out what it is you want to do for the rest of your life. Use this time as an opportunity to try out different jobs and research careers. Not only will you find your passion but you’ll also realize inner qualities about yourself that you never got to discover while you were busy rushing off to the library in college.
Save $$$ – You may not be able to bring everyone you meet at the bar home, but if your parents are beckoning you to stay with them while you job-search don’t think it’s a bad offer. In your first few years (before you turn 25) you will have the opportunity to live rent-free and maybe bill free if your parents are keen on it. Get a part-time job and save up your cash while you continue to apply for your first career opportunity. You’ll thank them in the future for the time they let you rest at no cost while you got back on your feet.
Get Entrepreneurial: It’s cliché, but true. If no one is opening the door then make one yourself. Interest in entrepreneurship has grown amongst young adults within the past five years as less and less recent graduates find jobs. If you’re able to save money by not paying unnecessary jobs consider opening a small-business or launching a start-up. Although entrepreneurship is risky, don’t be held back by the fear of failure. It could be a truly rewarding experience.
See the World: Unless you envision yourself becoming a Foreign Service officer or an international businessman, you may never have the opportunity to travel as much as you want until you’re older. So take advantage of travel opportunities like Fulbright Scholarships, international graduate schools, or internships abroad. Although it may seem like it, the world doesn’t revolve around America. There is more to it and you should go see it. Traveling is one of the best ways to experience things you’ve never seen before and learn something new about yourself.
Meet New People: Check out the networks you had in college and start meeting people. Use your time off to get informational interviews. You still have the glory and rave of being a recent graduate where everyone is ready to congratulate and you and ask what your plans on. Don’t be afraid to let folks know that you’re looking for a job. Whether it’s the little girl’s mom that you babysit for or a reunion with your high school counselor, make sure you communicate that you’re still looking for a job opportunity. You never know whom they know and what they can do for you.
Hit The Books: Many of us just want to stave off the horrors of adulthood or the economic criss and adding higher education to your list of to-dos could be a plausible option. Just make sure you think through this very carefully because going to grad school is not cheap! Higher education is a big commitment (that will usually come out of your pocket or your company’s if they let you) so make sure you know what programs you’re interested in it. Whatever you do, don’t rush back to school just because you have “nothing else to do”. Make sure in your heart of hearts you know where you are headed and you’re willing to spend the money to get there. If grad school is within your future goals use your time-off to study for the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT. You have enough time to do well so use it carefully and get your best score.