I just graduated! Actually, I graduated back in August (Like I said I would in my graduation post here). It’s been over a month now and I will be honest, life after graduating is not what I thought it would be, while also exactly like I thought it would be.
I used to be scared of life after graduating from university, then I was excited for it as it got closer. Now I’m feeling a little lukewarm about graduating. I’m excited that I don’t have to go back to school this fall and that I can now start working full time, make money, start a career, and still have more free time than I did before. I’m disappointed that most of the things on that list are contingent on one thing: finding a career.
I’ve been struggling to find a job. I have been seriously applying for jobs since June, I have a spread sheet to keep track of them all (at least one submitted job application a week, often two or three). To date, I have had one interview and no offers. I have received so many rejections its disheartening. I’m discouraged, I wasn’t ready for this. I wasn’t ready for life after university.
What I wasn’t ready for after graduation
Being “unemployed” in spite of having a job
I have a part-time job right now. It’s the same one I had while I was in school, it’s not sustainable long term financially (limited to 20 hours a week), and it genuinely feels like I am unemployed right now. I don’t have financial freedom because of how limiting this position is, I have outgrown the job, and I find myself frustrated with my situation. It’s genuinely like being unemployed (which I have been).
Not knowing what to do with myself
I went from having two jobs and being a full time student to having one part time job. I have so much free time that I have no idea what to do with myself. I can only do so much job searching and applying a day before my brain gives up on me. I have no idea what to do with my free time and finding hobbies that aren’t financially draining has also been a challenge. I can only go on so many walks a day, bake so much bread, write so many words and so on. Not knowing what to do with the day is really not a terrible problem to have, but not having anything to do has a tendency to make you feel trapped.
Rethinking what I want out of life and my future
Right now, I’m really having to take a step back and learn what it is I want to do with my future and reassess where my skills are applicable and what is realistic for me. I went from not wanting to be a copywriter to applying to copywriter positions. I went from not wanting to work in marketing to applying to a lot of marketing positions. I have realized a lot of my skills are applicable to marketing positions and that I was previously limiting my job search writing and public relations positions. I also have had to get flexible, I have found myself applying for positions that aren’t directly related to my degree at all, but my skills apply. I wasn’t ready to reassess my skills and knowledge, but I’m glad I am.
The constant disappointment of rejection emails or even worse, silence
I was not ready for so many rejections. I am confident in my skills, experiences, and abilities but every rejection is a little chip in my confidence. I fill it in quickly, I don’t have the liberty to be insecure right now. With that said, it still hurts every time I get a rejection notice. I briefly wonder what was wrong with my application. Was I too ambitious for the position? Is it my geographic location? Is it my presentation of my self or skills? There are so many things I ask myself daily and I wasn’t ready for this type of introspection.
What I am doing after graduation
Like I said earlier, I have so much more time now that I don’t (or didn’t) know what to do with it. Other than applying for jobs, revising my resume over and over again, and thinking bout my future, there are still a lot of hours in the day for activities.
I have been writing a lot more
Which is something I have always wanted to do. I have always wanted time to write. I have primarily been writing blog posts, cover letters, and resumes, which is a good start. Soon I will pick up one of my works in progress and finish it. I have a few books I have planned that I want to start and finish and now is the best time to do that. I have been spending a lot of time planning characters, plot lines, stories, and settings.
I’m continuing my education
I’m learning more about blogging, content, and content marketing right now. I have been reading other bloggers’ content, looking at how they market their content, and reading and watching content on blogging. My plan with this blog was never for it to be a career, but right now it’s what I have been spending the most time on so I might as well learn how to do it right.
I’m doing things I love that didn’t have time to do before
I stopped reading for fun because I just did’t have the time. I would squeeze in a book every now and then but I wasn’t reading as much as I used to or wanted to. Now I have all the time to read for fun. I don’t have to time when I start a book based on when it’s due at the library and when I have time.
I’m cooking more now and learning new recipes. I used to call it good with sandwiches, salads, cereals, and rotisserie chicken because I didn’t have time to follow a new recipe or experiment with food and flavors. I have time now to look for new recipes to try and then actually make them. I am eating better, more mindfully, and experimentally. I am excited about food and my options now.
I’m also spending more time in the morning on getting ready. I can now wear heels and slacks and dress how I want without feeling like I’m distancing myself from my classmates and peers. I can also spend time with accessorizing, Something I have never done before. I do love jewelry. I used to think I hated jewelry because I never took the time to explore and experiment with it. Now I know I love jewelry that is dainty, floral, natural looking, and simple. The jewelry in my collection didn’t really reflect this, which is why I never wore it. Now I know what I like and want to wear. Having the time to do this really helped me figure that out.
Taking time to take stock of my skills
and how I am presenting them to potential employers. I have been taking the time to think about who I am and what I can do, then applying that to which jobs I search and apply for. I also use this introspection to remind myself that my skills and values are important. I needed to take the time to reassure myself that in spite of all the rejections, I am valuable and my skills are valuable. I’m also taking action and making sure that I am saying this about myself in the materials I submit with my job applications. I wanted to make sure I was saying this in my resumes and cover letters. I wanted to make sure that my digital portfolio said this about me. We all need to do this and figure out what it is we want our work to say about us and then make it so.
While there were things I wasn’t prepared for after graduating college, its not all that bad. While I would severely benefit from a full time job or another part time job (Heyyo Starbucks, please get back to me!), I am taking the free time I have now to learn about myself and do things I haven’t done in a while. It’s only been a month since I formally finished college, but I feel like it’s been a lot longer than that. In spite of it all, there are always going to be things we aren’t prepared for in life, we just need to learn how to adapt and move on in the best ways we can, learn more about ourselves, and take action when it’s needed.