Recently, I attended a happy hour for fellow Bucknell alumni living in NYC. It was really nice to see familiar faces (and luckily it was conveniently located near Penn Station so I was able to make it home to NJ for the weekend much easier than I expected!). While chatting with friends, I started talking with someone I knew from various clubs over the years, who had just graduated in May. When I asked her what she was up to, she sheepishly smiled and said she was still looking. I instantly felt this wave of déjà vu. I was just like her this time last year. Applying to job after job, hoping that something would stick. I could tell she was unsure about what the future holds, and I repeatedly reassured her that she will find the right fit. I reminded her that many of my friends who had jobs right out of college are no longer at those same positions and found better fits later on. I also told her that I did not land my current (and first job!) until SEPTEMBER! I think that this pep talk was the reassurance that she needed, but it also reminded me of the “Funemployed concept” that I kept hearing last summer.
Funemployed – (adjective) When you are unemployed but enjoying your time by visiting friends, traveling, and simply living in the moment.
Okay so being funemployed after graduating definitely has its benefits. You don’t have a set schedule with classes and exams, you can sleep until noon, and relax all day. You can travel at a moment’s notice and you can basically do whatever you want without any restrictions.
So for me…I did not entirely embrace this concept last summer. Granted, I did visit family all over the country because I hadn’t seen them in months. I flew to Ohio for a baby shower and down to Florida to spend time with my cousins. It was nice to see the people I care about most, the ones who had faith in me even in during those many moments of doubt last summer. Spending a little vacation time away took my mind off of the fact that I did not have a plan or a path yet, which was frustrating and overwhelming to no end. For those of you who have been reading this blog since the beginning, you already know that I am a little Type A. Looking back, I wish that I had embraced the unknown a little bit more. Last summer was the first time in my life that I could really go wherever I wanted, and instead of embracing that reality I let the fear overwhelm me.
Once I returned from these trips, I started to go a little stir crazy at home. Applying to dozens of jobs daily is incredibly frustrating and tiresome in a mentally and emotionally way that is hard to explain. Since I definitely had my fair share of low moments those few months I have compiled a few tips to get out of this trap.
1. Start with a plan/daily goal
One thing I promised myself when I graduated was that I would spend time at a local coffee shop a few times a week to apply for jobs. Although I did not exactly stick to this plan, I knew that I needed some type of routine to keep me on track. Maybe set a goal to head to the gym three times a week and apply for jobs in the afternoon. It doesn’t have to be strict, but setting up some form of schedule can be very beneficial.
2. Get dressed and moving each day
It is amazing how simply getting dressed for the day can motivate you. There were WAY too many days last summer that I spent in pajamas in front of the TV just applying to job after job. I wish that I had forced myself to get ready and put on some makeup each day, because somehow that always makes me feel motivated and ready to GSD.
3. Get out of the house
Sometimes you just need a change of scenery!
4. Cut yourself some slack
Remember that you will find a great job one day. Be patient and try to keep in mind that it has only been a few weeks, not years of unknown.
5. Find a new hobby to fill your time (that doesn’t include applying to jobs!)
Fun Fact: I started this blog as a way to give myself a break from the endless job applications. It was and still is a great creative outlet for me, one that I am thankful to have started! Try knitting, read a new book, learn to surf, or maybe just embrace that random idea that you came up with months ago while in school but didn’t have the time to devote to it!
6. Travel (near or far!)
Travel doesn’t have to be a European adventure (but if you have the $, I say go for it!). Instead maybe just explore your hometown for the day! You’ve been away for months (maybe even years?) and it is nice to go out and try the latest restaurants or see new exhibits. But if you have the funds, now may be the best time to do that cross country road trip or jet set to Milan!
7. Spend time with family
I am really glad I did this last summer. It was so nice to reconnect with my family members who I hadn’t see in months/years. They are my biggest support system and I have learned time and time again over this past year, that family truly is everything.
8. Network with family friends
I touched on this idea in my recent Job Search 101 post, but definitely want to bring it up again. Be open to meeting with your parent’s friends or your neighbor’s cousin who may or may not work in the industry you hope to be in. Making connections is such an important part of the job search (and life for that matter!) so go to different events where you can meet new people. One of the randomest events I went to last year was a party held at billionaire’s car collection. I met so many really interesting people and it didn’t feel like “networking,” but instead nice conversation in a crazy cool environment.
Giving back is one thing that never goes out of style. Consider volunteering at the animal shelter in your town or helping your local church with Vacation Bible Camp, there are so many great organizations who could use some extra help. Also, many organizations would love the help of millennials in the areas of social media, pr, etc. So this could be a great way to gain extra experience in your preferred field and help a wonderful non-profit!
10. Get a part time job
Last summer I spent a couple of weeks babysitting my neighbors three kids. It was a nice break from job applications and a great way to make extra cash. Consider applying for a few part time jobs while searching for your dream full time job! Babysitting, bartending, and waitressing are all great options that have pretty flexible hours so you can still prioritize finding a job and going to interviews.
I hope these tips help any of you recent graduates out there who are facing the decline of the funemployment phase. I promise you that you will find a great job. Be patient and remember to cut yourself some slack. Things always have a funny way of working out!