Coping During Your Job Search
As I was trying to decide what to write about my experience after graduating, the song, “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads kept getting stuck in my head.*
“You may ask yourself, where does this highway lead to?
You may ask yourself, am I right am I wrong”
While you’re looking for the next step, it’s easy to begin “future tripping” and second-guessing.
When I look back at the past year, I barely recognize the person I was last May, and I just want to go back and give that girl a hug. I was overworked, overstressed, and overwhelmed. I got more job rejections than I even thought possible, was sleeping on friend’s couches more often than spending the night in my own apartment, and had no idea what I wanted. Now, less than a year later, I have an amazing job working with people that I love, and am even continuing to gain campaign experience.
You may ask yourself, how did I get here? No, I don’t have some magical formula for getting everything you want out of life (although I still really want one of those Easy Buttons from Staples!). It took lots of soul searching, lots of informational interviews, and LOTS of yoga in order to gain clarity about what I wanted and how to get it.
So, other than listening to the Talking Heads on repeat, my advice for those of you that are about to graduate (or that graduated already but are still searching for a “real job”) is the following:
- Do as many informational interviews as you can handle. Even if your desired career is not within their area of expertise, it’s a small world, and they are likely to know someone that you want to meet. Ask each person for up to three people that they would be willing to put you in touch with- it expands your network, and you never know who has a position available!
- Intern or volunteer while you’re looking for a job—if you have a career interest that allows for it, go for it! The best way to learn about an organization is from the ground floor, and the staff will be able to get to know you on a much more personal basis than if you were yet another interviewee.
- Make a vision board—not only is it a great stress reliever, it also helps you more clearly visualize what you want. Your vision board can have words, pictures from magazines, photographs, items from websites, whatever speaks to you. Place it in a location where you will look at it often, and continue to amend it as you get a better idea of what you want your future to look like.
- Do something for yourself every day—find some self-improvement hobby. For me, I found yoga and made a point of going whenever I was feeling extraordinarily overwhelmed. I became more centered and clear about myself and my goals, which made me a much more viable candidate. If yoga isn’t your thing, go running or swimming or even just read a book. Anything that gets you out of your to-do list mindset will make you much more efficient the rest of the time.
- You don’t need to know what you’ll be doing 20 years from now, just what you’ll be doing next. An old friend often tells me this, and it is a great reminder for when you are feeling overwhelmed. Yes, Lululemon says that you should have 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals, but that doesn’t mean that you need to know everything!
- Enjoy this time! As bizarre as it sounds (and as hard as it is to do), this is the one time in your life where you are not weighed down by the structure of school or work or many other obligations. Go to a museum; go on a walk; spend time with your family! Once you have a 9-5, you will miss the time you had and wish that you had enjoyed it more.
*Want to hear more songs that will motivate you? Check out fresh ink’s “Facing an Uncertain Future” playlist on iTunes!