Author: Taylor Craven
About a year ago this time, I was stressing about final exams, and sorting out the final details of my quickly approaching graduation. As I was finishing up decorating my rhinestone incrusted grad cap, I was far from the mindset of “I should probably start looking for a job.” It never occurred to me as an upcoming grad with a degree in communications, exactly how hard it would be to find a job. I mean, I knew the economy was bad, but I was still in the dream world that my college lifestyle would last forever (ie: never being cut off, paying monthly bills, and buying my own health insurance?!?). However, as the summer quickly flew by, and the lease to my apartment rapidly was coming to a end, I finally had the talk with my dad that if I don’t find a job soon, I would have to move back home.Um, WHAT?! Long story short, I was fortunate to land a job about two and a half months after graduation, and find a place to live with rent at a reasonable price, something that I could manage to pay for on my $15.50 an hour salary.
This being said, it was time to grow up, and fast. After my second paycheck, my dad cut me off from my monthly allowance, and I was forced into becoming an adult. But just because it was time to grow up, didn’t mean that my life ended. I promise you, recent college grads, your life will NOT end the moment you turn your tassel. It’s just a chapter IN YOUR LIFE that’s ending. Totally cliché, I know, but trust me, you’re going to learn so much more in the next few months, than you did in the recent four or five years. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
1. Save Your Money!
This cannot be stressed enough, especially if you’ve been cut off like me. This is just an example of what I get to look forward to each month: rent, utilities, my car payment, cell phone bill, gas, groceries, and the never-ending payments of student loans. As the 1st and 8th of each month looms closer, so does my anxiety of whether or not I can make all these payments, and if I’ll have enough money left over to get me by until my next paycheck. Although that paycheck is nice, splurging should be kept to a minimum. But by all means you should still have fun and treat yourself every now and then. Set goals and budget yourself. Be realistic in your priorities. Do you really need that new dress? Or is a needed oil change more important?
2. You’re going to struggle, but you’re not alone.
You know how they (whoever “they” are) say that your real life begins after college? ‘They weren’t entirely wrong. This day in the economy, I guarantee you another 20-something out there is struggling with something, be it finding a job, paying bills, whatever. Not many people have it made right now. College doesn’t teach you how to budget your money, or how to brush yourself off when you get that umpteenth “Sorry, but we’re looking for someone with more experience” decision from a possible employer. A really good friend of mine struggled for a good 10 months before getting employed; she had to move back home with her parents the day after graduation, and I can’t tell you how many NO’s she got from all her job applications. I myself am struggling with the job I have now. It is nothing I would ever expect I’d be doing, and I don’t enjoy spending 9 hours of my day in a cube being micromanaged, but it’s a job, and it’s paying my bills. Always remind yourself; somebody else out there is in the same boat as you.
3. Nobody has a 5-year plan, but don’t give up on your dreams and goals.
I can speak for myself on this. I literally accepted my job offer about a week before my lease ran out. It was an opportunity for me to not move home and actually start saving money and supporting myself. As I said before, this is far from what I would ever expect I would be doing right after college; my dreams were far from sitting in a cube all day. I was a communications major, so I always thought I would be in front of people, not stuck behind a computer for 9 hours each day. This doesn’t mean I plan on being here for the rest of my life, or even for the next year. I still check job postings everyday, and still apply to jobs with the same high hopes as I’ll hear back and HOPEFULLY can get an interview. My point is, you gotta start somewhere. A lot of “entry level” positions call for 3+ years of experience (which I feel is one of THE most frustrating things an employer will ask for). You gotta get that experience doing something. Stay hopeful, you WILL get a job.