I Graduated College ... Now What?

The transition from college to employment may be slow and nerve-wracking, but you’re not alone. There are things you can do while you wait for the right opportunity.

Congratulations! You’ve crushed enough cups of coffee to run a Starbucks for a year, spent enough time in a school library to be nauseated at the mere sight of books, and walked across your respective stage with your parents softly sobbing in the crowd.

You’ve graduated college.

But before you realized it, you’re sitting back in your high school bedroom, with an outdated crumpling poster and fading furniture bought more than a decade ago. With more than two-thirds of the Class of 2014 without a job at graduation, it may take more time to enter the next chapter of your life than previously thought.

Although the job market for recent grads is showing signs of improvement based on recent numbers, the unemployment rate for 2013 college graduates sits at 10.9 percent. Although better than 13.3 percent in 2012, it still remains significantly higher than the pre-recession number of 7.7 percent in 2007.

Almost as nauseating as unemployment, the rate of “underemployment,” or part-time jobs and work outside of ones desired field, has followed an upward trend. According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “it has become more common for underemployed college graduates to find themselves in low-wage jobs or to be working part-time” than decades prior.

In order to prevent stagnant stages in your post-graduate period, follow some of these steps to avoid slumps and slacking, whether you’re looking for work right away or not:

Develop a routine.

Having more free and unrestricted time doesn’t mean you can’t have a proper schedule. Set goals for a certain amount of job applications completed in a day or new skills studied, and reward yourself with an episode of your favorite show and other treats in-between.

Do something spontaneous.

This may seem contradictory to the previous point, but it is meant in a small dose. If you take the time right after graduating to take a trip across country or a new continent, you’ll love yourself for it when you finally begin working.

Set realistic expectations.

You may see your social media streams flooded with friends who “just landed my dream job in my dream city,” but understanding these are exceptions and not norms is key. You may have to take a part-time gig totally unrelated to your field, but don’t fret, and remember nothing is final.

Organize your social-self.

A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 77 percent of reported organizations use social media platforms to recruit potential candidates – up from 56 percent in 2011. Time to tidy up any particular party photos that are available for public consumption, and remember to keep a clean and organized professional profile when it comes to LinkedIn and other platforms like it.

Keep both physically and mentally active.

Just because the days of tests and nights of studying are behind you doesn’t mean mental growth needs to end. Challenge yourself mentally by reading and learning about new subjects in areas you never got to study. Also, while you’re mentally working out, throw daily physical tests into your routine as well. They can help keep you focused, routine-oriented and mentally fulfilled.

Sources:

Abel, J., Deitz, R., Su, Y. “Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs?” Current Issues in Economics and Finance. 2014. Web. 14 July 2014. Retrieved from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“Job Market for College Graduates Improves Slightly.” The New York Times. 22 April 2014. Web. 14 July 2014. Retrieved from the New York Times.

“Nearly One-Third of College Class of 2014 Grads Had a Job at Graduation.” NACE. 18 June 2014. Web. 14 July 2014. Retrieved from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

“Social Networking Websites and Recruiting/Selection.” SHRM Survey Findings. 11 April 2013. Web. 22 July 2014. Retrieved from the Society for Human Resource Management.

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