Dear New Grads: It's 110% OK Not to Have a Job Lined Up Yet
As I began approaching the last few weeks of my final year in college, panic slowly started to creep in. Why? Well, I hadn’t managed to land a job yet. And, in my circle of friends—which was filled with overachievers who were scoring these seemingly dreamy gigs like there was nothing to it—my lack of employment was definitely something to be embarrassed about.
Along with the panic came a lot of self-doubt. None of the places I interviewed at wanted to hire me, which obviously meant I was terrible. It wasn’t long before I resigned myself to the fact that I had earned my four-year degree only to return to dishing out pizza slices in my hometown restaurant.
If you’re quickly closing in on graduation with these exact same thoughts, rest assured that I know how you’re feeling. I walked many, many miles in your shoes, so I know first-hand how disheartening it can be to not have a fancy new title to gloat to your friends about.
But, let me tell you something important: Just because you don’t have an amazing offer right now doesn’t mean you’ll never get one. Those last few months of college truly don’t set the tone for the entire future of your career—no matter how much it may feel like it.
It’s totally OK to not have a great gig lined up right after you graduate. In fact, I think there are a lot of positive things to be said for it. Here are just a few of them.
1. Time to Recharge Is Never Bad
Yes, there will definitely be a time when you look back fondly and miss your college life. But, let’s just say it—college can be pretty tough too. You need to juggle finals, papers, a part-time job, and a social life (if you’re lucky). So, nobody can blame you for feeling a little burnt out by the time graduation rolls around.
Sure, there was a big part of me that was screaming on the inside at the idea of moving back into my childhood bedroom in order to live the unemployed life in my parents’ house for a while. But, if I’m being perfectly honest, it really wasn’t all that bad. On the contrary, really—it was actually kind of nice.
No, it’s not something I wanted to do forever. But, having a couple of months after the whirlwind of college to decompress, switch gears, and (most importantly) figure out what I wanted out of a career, was truly a good thing. When I finally did get an offer, I was able to get started with a fresh mindset and some recharged batteries—unlike my friends who walked right off campus and straight into a cubicle.
2. Speed Doesn’t Necessarily Equal Success
You feel like a failure for not knowing your immediate next step after graduation. I get it—I’ve been there. But, believe me when I say that the speed at which you’re able to land a job really has no impact on your future success. So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your lab partner who already has a gig lined up is destined for a future as a CEO—while you’ll never make it past the mail room.
It’s simply not true. Here’s a personal example: I had a friend who was offered a position two full months before she put on that cap and gown. We were all jealous. But, we later found out there wasn’t much to be envious of. Why? Well, the majority of her daily responsibilities included using the copier and making breakfast runs for the top-level executives.
Yes, she landed that position right away. But, that really didn’t end up meaning I would be a full step behind for the rest of our professional lives. In all honesty, there really wasn’t much to catch up with.
3. You’ll Make Your Friends Jealous
I spent the last portion of my college career turning green with envy over my friends who already had positions waiting for them. They had a plan. They knew where they were going. However, when college came to a close and we all moved on? Surprisingly, the tables turned and they all ended up being jealous of me.
While the idea of jumping right into adult life sounded good in theory, it turns out that it wasn’t so glamorous in practice. They were all up at the crack of dawn preparing for their morning commutes. I got to sleep in a little before spending the day job hunting. They all felt like their lives were consumed by nothing but work. Me? I had more free time than ever before.
Of course, that didn’t mean I wanted to remain unemployed forever. But, being able to brag about my leisurely lifestyle—when they had spent the last few months hanging their “real world” jobs over my head? Well, I’ll admit there was a little bit of sweetness to that.
Not having a position lined up for you right after college graduation can seem like the end of the world. But, I promise you, it’s not. In fact, there are actually some real upsides to having a little bit of downtime after you get your degree.
And, if you ever feel yourself spiraling into panic mode about your career future again, just remember me. It took me six months to land my first job out of college, and I turned out just fine—as least, I hope so.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author