It’s no secret that leaving university to enter the real world is daunting. Especially nowadays, when graduates struggle to find just a regular job, let alone the one’s in the field that they actually want to get into.
Ever heard of “graduate depression”? It’s a real thing that many go through, but it’s all about knuckling down and tying up your boot straps, as in the words of Aaliyah, “Dust yourself off and try again”.
But, here’s five reasons why being a recent graduate can be difficult.
1. People assume you’ve given up on your ambitions
It’s painful when someone asks you what you do for a living, and despite a degree, you just shrug and say you work in retail or in a bar. What’s worse is that a lot of people tend to assume that you’ve given up on your dream career because you’re only working a regular job. For a lot of graduates, this just isn’t the case. The truth is many graduates are constantly firing out CVs out online in hopes of at least an interview invite, but the majority of the time, they never hear anything back. A lot graduates have applied for tons upon tons of jobs, but nothing comes of it. Maybe, a new approach is needed. But please, don’t assume people have given up on the career they want, just because they’re working in the local bar or store. The key here is to never give up and also to know what it is that you want and always be working towards it.
2. Working a regular job just to get by
Many graduates are working jobs that they aren’t interested in, just to get by, and this is no different than in any other decade before this present day. It can be difficult to keep on striving after studying for a degree, only to clean up some drunk guy’s puke by the bar or deal with ratty customers not getting their way in retail. Then there’s that daunting feeling of dread that you’ll be stuck there forever. The key here is that you won’t be stuck there forever, and that life’s a journey and your time will come as long as you do not give up.
3. Employers expectations are very high
Even so-called graduate jobs expect professional experience that most graduates can’t possibly have already. Take a look at most graduate job ads and you’ll definitely find something along the lines of “We’re looking for a fresh graduate with 2-3 years professional experience” somewhere. It’s bad enough with the ridiculous cycle of needing experience for work, and work for experience, since it develops a “catch 22” situation in that how can you have work experience, if you’re seeking your first real job opportunity? A graduate job is meant to be an entry-level job, so why are they seeking extra work experience? Perhaps, it’s a competitive field for jobs out there, so the key here is to get that experience that they’re looking for elsewhere and then come back to them. It’s also helpful to be persistent and by standing out from the rest of applicants with a quality cover letter and making yourself heard, such as phoning into the office and presenting yourself. This will prevent employers from just binning your CV. Let them know that you’re happy to start with an internship even. You really have to want it.
4. Apparently, all graduates want a career in sales
For some godforsaken reason, most graduate jobs available today are sales, sales, sales. Got a 2:1 degree in psychology? Well, then we have the perfect opportunity for you to begin your career in sales. Believe it or not, a lot of graduates don’t want a job in sales. Shocker, we know. It’s frustrating when these are the only kinds of graduate roles that don’t expect previous experience, but it’s nowhere near the field you want to get into.
This is where one might consider a Master’s degree in later years, but doing intern or pro-bono work to start with within your desired field beforehand is also a very beneficial factor in just getting a foot in the door. You may not land your desired job at first, but you’re already where you want to be/within the right place.
5. Don’t feel left out when you see friends and classmates land their dream jobs
Life is a journey, everyone’s life path is different and life is not a competition. When you ask them how they got it and they respond with “I just applied online”, don’t get down on yourself despite the fact that you’ve been doing that for months on end and still not getting anywhere. It’s all about picking yourself up and trying again, and ensuring that you do not give up. Strive to improve yourself, work on your CV and your cover letter and show the employer how much you desire a position in that certain company by making them notice you. We know it’s not nice to feel left out and while you’re happy for your friends, it’s disheartening when you realise that you’re still stuck in a job that you do not enjoy. Do not fret however, as it can take time to get that entry-level position, but one thing you cannot do is to give up. A positive attitude is key and believing in yourself is absolutely essential.
So please do remember, if you’re a graduate who’s still looking for work or that’s stuck in a dead-end job, you’re not alone. There’s many people out there going through a similar struggle, who want to get their lucky break just like you do, but it feels like finding a needle in the haystack (or actually the hay in the needle stack, which may be more accurate).
Two words of advice though “keep trying” because many are in the same boat. Experience is garnered through working on your passions, even in your free time, to show that extra experience in that desired entry-level position that you seek. Practical experience is what many employers are looking for nowadays.
It’s summer now, but come the fall, employers will be hiring more again. What will you do to get noticed? To set you apart from hundreds of other graduate applicants? Tell us in the comments below.
<Story by Emily Clark>
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Featured Photo Credit: RICS Recruit
Additional Word: The Narrator