6 Tips to Help You Survive (unemployed) Graduate Life

7 February 2015

This post has been a long time coming. The idea originally came to me when I was about two months into my job, but then I forgot about it. Then my probation period was extended and then I certainly didn’t feel confident enough to write about it. But I bumped into a friend from uni about two weeks ago whilst on my lunch break, we decided to meet for lunch the following week. We ended up having a good old natter about grad life. This spurred me to get back to writing this post, and possibly another one.

So you’ve just finished your three/four years of uni and perhaps you were not like the rest who secured grad jobs whilst in their final year. So now you’ve finished uni, had that break and you’re applying for job after job with no luck. Trust me I know what it’s like because that was me when I finished university.

I graduated in July 2013. My final year was particularly gruelling because I was severely depressed, I'd just broken up with my ex boyfriend, I was having therapy and I basically had no friends. All that coupled with uni was just one form of hell. I was envious of those who had secured jobs already, but I wasn’t worried I believed that there had to be a job out there for me somewhere. I eventually started to run out of money and was on benefits for about 2 months before I landed a job at Sainsbury’s. I worked there part-time whilst looking for full time work. I worked there for 9 months before landing the job I have now. I am currently a marketing assistant, which is what I wanted so hurrah! I finished my exams in May time, so if we’re counting from there it took me a year and two months to land a full time job.

A year is bloody long time to experience unemployment and inadequacy. Like I said above I did manage to get a part time job, and whilst it was great for income and stopped me from becoming incredibly bored. It wasn't want I wanted to do, customers are super rude in retail and to others in my life it was basically like I didn't even have a job because it wasn't a "proper job." In light of all my experiences I thought I’d talk about how to survive grad life, if you find yourself in a similar situation to me. These aren't job tips but just life tips so you don't fall into despair.

  1. Take social media with a pinch of salt. I'm getting this one out of the way first - social media is a blessing and curse. But the bottom line is, not everyone lives is as glamorous and amazing as they portray it to be - we see the highlights of peoples lives and that will make you feel shit. So you need to step back and take whatever you see with a pinch of salt. Your life is perfectly okay! 

  2. Talk to the nearest and dearest. Surround yourself with people that care about you and talk to them about how you're feeling. People probably don't know just how bad you might be feeling, so when this whole process is really crushing you utilise the people you have around you. I found talking to my sister really helpful, as she was unemployed at the time and could understand where I was coming from. I also spent a lot of time at her house with my nephews because they made me feel good and they were perfectly non-judgemental. 

  3. Stay away from toxic people This basically ties the previous two together in a round about way. For me personally, I found this to be so important. Honestly stay away from people who make you feel this is your fault / don't understand / don't want to understand. I’m not saying defriend them forever, but if there are people making this time in your harder than it already is, perhaps they shouldn’t be there just for now. My best friend once said to me “no wonder you work at Sainsbury’s” because I got something mixed up and to hear this whilst you’ve worked your arse off to get your degree and are working your arse to find a job is hard. It got to me, not because it came from her, but because I thought ‘is this what everyone else is thinking?’ I set some distance between us because quite frankly it's not a nice thing to say, let alone to someone in that position and because I didn't want to let that thought consume me. Not everyone is thinking that and even if they were, you need to stop thinking about what it looks like to other people. Everyone who has been through it this, appreciates how damn hard it is and believe me, I know you’re trying. You are well within your rights to make this time stress free as possible, so cut some temporary ties if you have to. 

  4. Prepare for rejection. This goes without saying, but it still needs to be said. This job market is tough, even if you have experience is your chosen area it's still incredibly hard. You’ll see a job advert that looks like it was created just for you; you’ll apply and get rejected or just not hear anything at all. Don’t take it personally, move on and keep applying. It's hard to not get demotivated but you just have to keep throwing mud and it will stick at some point.  

  5. Assume nothing. Yes the world (if you didn't know it) is incredibly unfair. Yes people who didn’t get as good as grade as you, or even go to uni will earn more than you and be in a higher position than you (Although fear not, graduates do seem to have a higher earning potential than non grads, although my paycheck is yet to show this). So yes you’ll question if it was even worth it. Yes you’ll just hate the whole process sometimes and have repeated crying fits. But don’t assume this is how it will always be, don’t also assume that a degree is your ticket into anywhere. Basically don’t assume the worst or get too cocky, just show your experience outside your degree, show how relevant you are for the job, persevere and then trust that you’ll get that job – because you will. 

  6. Enjoy the free time. Yeah you know how you have all this time that seems almost painful sometimes? Enjoy it because once you nab that full time job, you can say good bye to all that beauty sleep! But seriously, sometimes just kick back and relax  – take the time to read, go for a walk. I was always joyous when I went to places like the bank or the post office because there was no queue! Also taking the tube when it is not rush hour was also another mini victory in my life! 
So those are my tips based on my experience! Unemployed grad life is hard and it can make you feel like a failure especially when the graduation high wears off. But you haven’t failed! I am 100% here if anyone feels like they need a chat! Don’t give up because you will land a job (maybe even your dream job) and you can join the rest of us in complaining about Mondays!

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