Dear College Seniors,
I know it's almost April and you're probably freaking out because you finish classes and graduate in about two months... but please -- don't freak out. At least not yet.
You are about to embark on what will be the two of the greatest, most memorable months of your life (unfortunately, I don't think that's an exaggeration). So stop worrying that you will never get a job. You will.
Everyone knows it's easier for some people to find jobs after college than others. Some majors have training programs and entry-level positions that are lined up months before the start date. Other majors have job openings that are slim to none... and when there is an opening, the company wants you to start working the next week. So if you haven't graduated yet, do you think these employers are going to call you? Probably not.
Never mind the field you are going into, you must understand that the economy still isn't great. There are a limited amount of jobs out there in every field. Not to mention, you have people one, two, three, even four years out of college applying for the same positions as you. Sure, the employer is going to want to pick the person they can pay the least... But what if someone four years out of college (with experience) is willing to take a major pay cut for the job that you want? You never know what's going on behind the scenes. And once you get past the resume-reading part, you never know who else is interviewing for the job (A.K.A. a past intern, a relative, a family friend, etc).
The first step in getting a job is having someone actually look at your resume. Unfortunately, even though you might have, let's say, five awesome internships, six clubs you were involved in, and a high GPA on your basically bangin' resume, so does everyone else. So how do employers decide which ones to read and then who to interview? It's simple. Perhaps you went to the same college as the employer. Perhaps you are from the same hometown. Perhaps you played the same sport. But more often than not -- it's that you know someone -- whether it be a relative, family friend or connection from a past internship. If you have one (or more) of those three things, you are (hopefully) golden. But don't get all cocky on us yet -- you better hope there is a job opening at your connection's company. Until then, keep your options open. Don't assume anything.
Now, if you have a job lined up already, good for you! But don't brag about it. I don't care if your uncle knew someone who knew someone who knew someone, or if your internship from last summer can't live without you. Don't talk about it. If your unemployed friends ask, give them the details and move on with your conversation. Don't tell them how much you're making (especially if you plan to lie and exaggerate your salary). Don't tell them how easy or how hard the job was to score. They have enough to worry about between leaving college friends, saying bye to the college life, and not knowing what's coming next. There is no need for them to have to worry about why you have a job and they don't.
But even if you do hear the excitement from friends, acquaintances and classmates (and believe me -- you will)... know that it's fine not to have a job before you graduate. In fact, it's kind of a blessing in disguise. You know what comes after graduation? Summer. Yes -- that season full of beaches, vacations, dresses, sandals and margaritas. And if you're not working, you can enjoy all that and more. When you do get a job, you are going to be working for the rest of your entire life. Summer will be thrown out the window. You'll be stuck inside during the week and by the time the weekend comes, you'll have so much to get done during those two days that your beach time will be seriously limited... and let me tell you -- it sucks.
A professor once told one of my classes that we should take the Summer after graduation off from working and not worry about the job search until after. Many of us laughed at this because we needed money... and even if we didn't, we couldn't handle the thought of not having a job while our friends did. Some of us were even faced with the option of doing another internship while job searching. We (like you right now) thought we were done with those. But for those of us that completed post-college internships, we got connections and more experience -- if not a full-time job out of it as well. So even though you might not want to go this route, don't be embarrassed. You can still make money during the time you're not at your internship; and if you're going to be sitting around job searching after graduation, you might as well make some connections and get some experience (with the possibility of scoring a job) while doing it. And if you do get a job offer the week (or day) after you start an internship, don't worry -- you can always quit.
So maybe you will get a job before you graduate. Or maybe you won't. I know people who got hired before graduation, and people who got hired two or three months after. I know some who had to wait six months -- and I know quite a few who waited eight months to a year and a half for an offer. But no matter how long you have to wait, you're (most likely) not doing anything wrong. It takes time... and a lot of it is based on luck (and who you know). As I said, you have no idea who else is applying, who else is interviewing, who knows who, how soon they need someone to start, and if they suddenly decided to get rid of the opening.
So for now, don't worry about it. Apply if you want -- but don't "over-apply." If you're bored in the computer lab with some time to kill, do a little job searching. Why not? But don't forfeit a Blackout Wednesday over it (PLEASE -- cherish every Blackout Wednesday thrown your way). And if you're not getting calls for interviews or job offers, don't get discouraged. If anything, you're at least getting experience searching for jobs, writing cover letters, re-doing your resume, and interviewing.
Right now, all you have to worry about is going out three to four (to five plus) nights a week (you'll regret it if you don't) and soaking up all the fun you can (oh and I guess eventually finals too). Soon you'll be living at home (ugh) or living in an apartment where everyone is busy all day and sleeps all night (it will never be anything like college again). Soon, you'll be working and you'll be tired. Soon, you'll have to be responsible with your money and save it. So for now, enjoy it. Forget about your impending future and focus on the present. Have fun. Don't wish it away. Us post-grads all wish we could be in your shoes again. You seriously have no idea how lucky you are!
Sam -- and basically every other post-grad out there!
Follow Samantha Matt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/samanthamatt1