The champagne corks fly while the caps descend after your classmates throw them up in celebration at the end of graduation. You either go out to start drinking immediately with the ones who you have (or haven’t) spent hours and hours in the library with for the last four (or five) years, or go home to chill with your family while you have lunch and sip Dom Perignon at the suggestion of your favorite rap artists.
Don’t forget that metal thing holding the cork.
But as you sip that bubbly, the thought begins to creep back into your mind as to how ill-prepared you currently are for the “real world” as it waits for you the following Monday. There are a number of reasons why you should not feel scared or nervous, but many do regardless. This will be fairly short and sweet, but to give you an overview, we are first going to cover the reasons why you SHOULDN’T SWEAT not knowing what to do right now. Then, proceed into what you can do to fill your time if you do not have work yet.
You are probably 22 or 23, have a four year degree, and are in a better position than most people.
I guarantee you, whether your major was in History or Accounting, your skills are marketable and someone out there wants to pay you to do things for their business. Yes, there might be looming debt. Some may have a ton and for others not much, but it’s probably there. The 6-month clock starts ticking as soon as graduation hits, and at the end of it, bills will come due. This should not deter you from having fun post-graduation, but you should at the same time use it as a means of staying disciplined and focused, knowing that the responsibility of paying them off is coming. The vast majority of great people throughout history did not know what they wanted to do at this age. What you need to remember is that the brain does not fully finish developing until age 25 or so, meaning that uncertain feeling is genuinely normal.
So you might not be employed yet. Shoot.
The good news is, you definitely are not alone there. Just because your accounting major friends locked something down a few months ago does not mean you should panic. A “job” does not necessarily mean going to an office from 9-5 and earning a steady pay check, either.
In fact, you can work 40+ hours per week, not earn any money, and still be in good shape for awhile.
Wait, WHAT? How is that possible? Well, whether you noticed or not, some of your friends probably decided to volunteer right out of college in lieu of getting a desk job. They still carry out extremely important jobs on a day-to-day basis wherever they are, albeit not in an office and earning a paycheck. Depending on the type of volunteer work you do, student loans can also be deferred. As an example, volunteering in the Peace Corps can put off any Federal Direct, Federal Consolidation, and Stafford loans for up to three years. You may need to commit a specific amount of time to that and go live in a different country for awhile, but there are many other forms of volunteering that do not require lengthy time-commitments. Granted, loan deferment might be a affected. However, think about how good that looks in job interviews when you have been spending your time helping others versus just working at an old high school job. Speaking of that….
Recruiters want to see that you do not just sit around, period. There is also nothing wrong with working at your minimum wage college or high school job when on the hunt for something full-time. The important thing is that you do SOMETHING that can fuel great conversation in a job interview. So whether it’s volunteering, continuing an old job, or even travelling, keeping busy in some form or another will be a large contributing factor to landing that position.
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