Graduation season is here. It’s time to throw your cap in the air in celebration of receiving the diploma you bled and sweat so hard for.
In the weeks to come, you will notice how fast your former classmates' lives have changed. Some will land big jobs; others will start grad school; some are volunteering abroad and saving the world; some have tied the knot.
But what if you haven’t done any of the above yet? If you’re feeling hopeless and behind on life since walking across the stage, then you might have a case of the post-graduation blues.
I definitely had it bad. In May 2011, I graduated from college with a BA in Journalism. Although I had completed several internships, I left with no job offer. I did everything I was supposed to do – or so I thought.
That summer, I spent night after night applying for jobs and pitching story ideas to publications. I even considered grad school and teaching, but neither felt right to me. I sunk into a depressed state and felt there was no way out. On top of that, a best friend of mine who was suffering from cancer passed away in August. Then my twin nieces died at birth. In October, my grandmother passed away.
One would think that those losses made me more depressed. But it did the complete opposite. I saw the value in life and decided to take more control of my situation. In August 2011, I landed a cashier job at a sandwich shop and interned at a notable magazine and made it work until I received a freelance writing gig in June 2012. This gave me my first foot in the door in my career.
For those going through a post-graduation blues, here are some things I did that helped me get through:
· Clear Your Mind – Write down your thoughts and share them with a family member or friend.
· Connect – Network with established alumni from your college and schedule an informational interview. Ask them questions about how they were able to get their start.
· Research – Uncover stories behind successful people and be inspired. You will find they all faced struggle before they “made it.” The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now, was my favorite book during my crisis.
· Stay Busy – Take a part-time job and/or volunteer. The class of 2014 faces a job market where 46 percent of graduates are employed full-time. A temporary opportunity WILL prepare you once a better one comes.
· Keep Living – Travel, try new foods and activities, work out, meet new people and pick up old hobbies you once enjoyed.
· Share Your Story – Don’t be stingy. When you’re out of your blues period, encourage someone else who is down on their luck.
All in all, my first post-grad year taught me not to let a situation define me. Now I’m more prepared for the real world and any other curve balls it throws my way down the line.
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(Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Corbis)