The rush of hearing your name called at college graduation is unlike anything you’ll ever experience. All the years of tests, reports, and late night studying sessions have led to that one moment. You should enjoy every second of walking across the stage and finally receiving your diploma - you’ve got the whole world in front of you!
Moving from college into the real world is a big transition. Not everything is going to work out as planned and as a recent grad, you’ll most likely face some challenges. Here are top the five struggles you might face and some tips on how to overcome them.
1. The Dreaded Job Hunt
You’ve turned the tassel, celebrated making it through college, and now it’s time to job hunt.
Job hunting can be a long and frustrating process. You can spend eight hours a day applying for jobs and never hear anything back. Or you may get the dreaded mass email that says something along the lines of, “we appreciate you applying, but unfortunately we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate.” Everyone’s been there!
A lot of recent grads who have jobs are actually underemployed. There’s nothing wrong with working a job that doesn’t require a degree. At least you’ll gain some experience and put a bit of cash in your pocket. However, being underemployed can leave you feeling empty and frustrated.
How to Get a Job
It can be tempting to sit at your computer all day blasting out resumes and cover letters to every position you find. But in reality, it’s the not the most effective way to job search and won’t get you very far. Instead, find around four jobs a day to apply to and customize your resume and cover letter to each one. Find keywords in the job description to include in your resume and address your cover letter to the hiring manager.
When job searching, your most powerful tool is going to be your network. Most jobs are actually found through networking and recommendations. Your network is going to include your alumni network, family, friends, coworkers, and your connections on LinkedIn. Reach out to anyone in your career field that is willing to talk to you. You never know where it might lead.
Most importantly - don’t give up. Rejection emails might keep coming in and the job you want may turn you down, but that’s no reason to stop. Visualize where you see yourself going and keep on moving forward. You’re not the first recent college graduate struggling through the job search and you won’t be the last.
2. You Need Experience, but Have No Experience
As you start looking through job announcements, you’ll undoubtedly come across entry-level positions that require previous professional experience. It’s hard realizing that the college degree you worked years to get, isn’t enough. In today’s world, you need more than a degree to even be considered for an interview, and lack of experience can negatively impact these chances.
Maybe you’ve had a few part-time jobs in the past, but that isn’t the type of real working experience employers are looking for. They want to see the 9 to 5 kind of experience. We understand the struggle to find this as the last few years college is a full-time job, and with your busy class schedule, you may not have had the time to get the type of experience you need.
How to Find Experience
Experiences will vary -- you could take additional classes or volunteer -- but these types of experiences are not exactly what employers are now looking for.
Employers want to see college graduates with internship experience. Internships are the best experience because they give you the chance to work on projects and see firsthand how things are done in your profession. Internships are your way of not only gaining the experience employers are looking for, but also allow you to try working in a career field before committing to it for the long term.
An international internship gives you even more invaluable experience and sets you apart from your peers. 1% of recent college graduates have international work experience. By going abroad, not only do you learn about your chosen career field, you also learn a lot about yourself.
“This has taught me that i can do anything that I put my mind to regardless of the circumstances,” said Barcelona intern Ryan Roberts.
Plus, college graduates with international internship experience on their resume have been proven to get hired faster. Global Experiences alumni get hired 3x faster and earn 30% more than their peers.
3. Watching Everyone Around you Succeed
Your life right after college graduation is a strange and often confusing time. Friends and peers will go in different directions and take different paths. People will get married, buy a house, land a job, or just seem to have the perfect life especially all over social media. You may not have any of those things.
It’s natural for feelings of jealousy and frustration. Seeing everyone else (seeming) to flourish can make you feel like you’re not succeeding. But, this isn’t the time to get down on yourself. You’re young and even though you still have a lot uncertainty in your life, there are still endless opportunities to find your own success.
How to Find your Own Success
Life isn’t a straight line and most importantly, it’s not a competition. Don’t judge or compare your life to someone else’s.
Social media can be deceiving. Statuses and tweets are not reality, and behind those quick updates, you can never really know what’s going on. Behind those smiling photos on the beach, or statues about getting engaged, there’s someone that feels just as lost and confused as you do.
Take a step back, logoff, and relax. Just because you don’t have some of the things people around you may have doesn’t mean that you aren’t successful and you shouldn’t feel any pressure to have all those things right away. Your definition of success doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be the same as everyone else’s.
4. Living at Home Again
For most people, college is their first chance at real independence. You get your own space, your own apartment, and finally get to break free. But after those bliss-filled-college-years, you may be forced to move back home due to finances or struggling to find a job.
Let’s be honest, no one is excited about moving back in with their parents. But, it’s nothing to be ashamed of! Nearly 24 million 18-to-34-year-olds are living at home.
The town you grew up in might remind you of those awkward adolescent years that most of us don’t want to relive. Moving back home makes it feel like you’re living in the years of curfews and rules all over again. A strange thing happens where home doesn’t really feel like “home” anymore. Instead, it starts to feel like a housing situation that you’ll do anything to crawl your way out of. But moving back home doesn’t have to .feel like taking a giant step backwards.
How to Make the Best out of Moving Back
After four or more years of college, there’s no way you are the same person you were when you graduated high school. You know that, but your parents probably don’t realize how much you’ve changed.
Sit down with your parents and have a conversation early on about expectations. You’re young and going to want to live your life, but at the same time, you need to respect that it is your parent’s house.
The main benefit of moving home (probably the last time in your life) is that you’ll have is the ability to save money. Your parents might let you live rent free, so even if you’re underemployed or only working part-time, you’ll have the chance to save. Just make sure to set a budget for yourself and know exactly how much you’re bringing in.
It is important to have a plan, set a budget, and think about when and where you want to live long-term. Sitting around all day feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to get you out of your parents’ house. Write down your goals and set a timeline for yourself is a great way to stay motivated and soon you’ll be out on your own!
5. Managing Expectations
We can all dream. We want to work for large corporations and be the boss, but as a recent college graduate, you can’t be demanding right off the bat, even though it’s possible it’s not very realistic.
Of course it would be nice that with a college degree and some experience, you’d be able to land your dream job right away. Recent grads who do land the dream job right after college are the exception, not the rule. That doesn’t mean the job you’ve always wanted and a cool apartment in the city aren’t attainable, but they probably aren’t going to be waiting for you right after graduation.
How to Manage Expectations
Just like life, your career path isn’t going to be a straight line. There are going to be a lot of ups and downs that will shape you as a person and your career. It’s a tough thing to want so much, but seems so far.
Tip: We all have to start somewhere, and sometimes, somewhere near the bottom.
With the first job right out of college, some of the tasks you do may not be ones you’re passionate about and the pay might be a little lower than you expect, but it’s the internships and entry-level experience that builds the foundation for a successful career. Working your way up will make finding your dream career even more rewarding.
Even with some of the challenges you’ll face, being a recent grad is one of the most exciting times of your life. Now is the time to experience new things, travel to other countries, discover who you are, and find out what you want your life to be.