As most of you know, in a few short weeks I will be receiving my bachelor’s degree in English from Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University—San Luis Obispo). Only a decade and two years after the last recession, I will be joining a class of graduates that look a whole lot like those who graduated in 2008.
This could be a good thing or, well, not so good.
My class is about to graduate into very uncertain waters with our possibilities of finding a job within this market incredibly low. If you take a look at this article here, from Emmanuel Morgan of the LA Times, he is one of many who outlines just what could happen for graduates looking for jobs on their way out of degree programs.
First things first: it’s going to be difficult.
If those who had jobs are being laid off and furloughed, along with so many graduate internship offers rescinded since March, it’s hard to be optimistic that new grads are going to be hired any time soon. Unfortunately, many of these jobs want the kind experience that plenty of us haven’t had the chance to gain yet.
Secondly, we have to consider that there are long term impacts to these issues as well.
Beyond knowing that it’s going to be difficult at first, it also alters other aspects of our lives in how we recover from student loans, debts, and adapting to the jobs that we may be able to get in the first place. Depending on how these factors play out, they can be big ones to consider because there’s a third point to all of this:
It is very easy to get stuck in a rut.
Just as it has been with all the Zoom classes, tutoring, and time staring at a screen, I know I’ve found myself burning out quickly. The same thing can happen when trying to find a job without the right plan. If it feels hopeless or we forget to give ourselves a break every once in a while, we get stuck and that’s one of the quickest ways to lose all ground.
In times like these, that’s one of the last things we want to do. From having little job prospects to burnout, there’s a lot of moving parts to all of this that we need to deal with. And if these are all the things we don’t want to be doing, then here’s the question I’ve been asking myself again and again these past few months: where do we start to get moving the other way?
Even though the job market isn’t looking ideal, the plans we build for ourselves rarely pan out to our ideal results. One of the only ways to handle this is taking everything as it comes. Articles like this one from Business Insider’s Alexa Shoen tackles the things that you can do to find a job in these unprecedented times and most of it stems from the original idea of thinking outside the box.
We build it from the ground up.
Whether you’re creating your own internship, reaching out to companies who look like they could use some help, or working remotely, there are options even if they weren’t in your original plan. Sure, okay, so maybe this isn’t quite the box metaphor I told you about. Instead, think of it this way: that box is the plan you made when everything worked out the way you wanted it to. Now, think outside of that plan. If you readjust your mindset to a more open-ended plan, it’s a little bit easier to be okay with taking a new path to get where you want to go.
Speaking of getting where you want to go, that’s also something you might have to be okay with changing too. Over the years, my career goals have changed several times after I’ve realized more and more of what I’ve wanted. It takes trial and error to recognize that one job may not be everything you want out of your work life and college has shown me that.
If there is ever a time to start that trial and error while still making money, this is probably it; just because we are at the mercy of the job market does not mean that we have no say in what we do. Check out Whizy Kim’s Refinery 29 article here, where five 2008 grads talk about what they did to take control of their changing career paths.
For some of them, it took a few jobs that seemed like side-tracks to lead them to the right place. For others, they took everything day by day and struggle by struggle as some of us undoubtedly will, following their career goals until they ended up where they wanted to be.
More than anything, they all had the same advice: keep searching, work hard at sharpening your skills, and be open to whatever comes your way. As they say, beggars can’t be choosers, but we can also know how to fight for ourselves while we’re at it.
So, in a way I guess I might have lied to you earlier. This will be a struggle, but it can also be a good one. This just might not all happen the way we thought it would—but hey, college definitely hasn’t. Why would the rest of it?
If we can remember to re-adjust, find a balance in how we handle all these moving pieces, and build a new future from the ground up, we will be okay. Whether you’re headed off to grad school, taking a gap year, investing in yourself, or wherever else you’re going… You’re still a 2020 graduate. That is something to celebrate.
You should be proud. Figure the rest out as it comes, the plan will keep changing and we will change along with it. Good luck.
And Happy Friday everyone. Stay safe.