Dear college graduate without a job (yet),
You are not alone. I remember this time last year, I was starting to panic. I had started applying for jobs and internships in January of that year, and now it was May? It was time to graduate, and graduate with no excitement to start something new. It was time to graduate and start a summer vacation that I was not looking forward to, family vacation and days with no plans. Freedom and adventure was the last thing I wanted. What I wanted was an answer, for someone to give me a chance, a plan, or at least a date of when I could expect those things.
As that summer went by and left, I began to feel trapped in my own body. A typical day would look like waking up late (because I had no plans), making coffee, logging onto my computer, and trying my very best to look through the long lists of job openings that existed in Rochester, in Nashville, in Raleigh, in Charleston, in Charlotte. I was so discouraged. On other days, it took too much energy for me to get out of bed. All I could do was lay wrapped up in my blankets surrounded with pillows, and cry. God, why did you give me all those dreams and desires during my college days only to never give me a chance to understand them or walk them out? Some days I was angry, but most days – my heart felt so heavy it literally felt like it was breaking.
I ran into people in coffee shops, the grocery store, at church, when my family was together – and the questions of “What is next?” and “What jobs are you looking for?” and “Are you in a serious relationship?” and “How are you doing?” became questions that overwhelmed me to the point of hopelessness. The uncertainty handicapped me to the point of depression.
I know you’re probably asking yourself, “Ok Jacqui, so what’s the good news for me??…..”
The good news is this: It will end. This time of not knowing what comes next WILL end…whether that is a job, an internship, or a long-term missions trip.
I spent 10 months applying to jobs before I got my first job offer at the end of October. During that process of pursuing and waiting, I began to expect God to give me exactly what I was longing for – to move out of Rochester, to date the guy I want to be with, to gain experience working in an established nonprofit like A21 Campaign or Samaritan’s Purse with young women. After all, nothing was working out right now because God was magically aligning the stars for me, right? But that is exactly what didn’t happen. I didn’t get to move out of Rochester. I didn’t even leave Roberts Wesleyan College. I didn’t get to have that relationship I wanted to make work so desperately (more than I wanted a job to work out, honestly). I didn’t get to dedicate my energy and time into a job that is helping combat human trafficking or pioneer a ministry to help broken people come face to face with Healing in a healthy community.
But those long days of staring at my laptop screen and glazing over new job openings did end. It ended because I never gave up. Even when I wanted to give up, I continued to press in and keep trying. I kept changing my resume to feature different skill sets, and wrote new cover letters a few times a week. I networked with different people, and contacted strangers who I would send my resume to so they could at least have it on file for when another job opening presented itself. Altogether, I applied to about 70-80 jobs. And although God didn’t “align the stars” to give me everything I fighting for to fall into place, I can’t imagine now that I am six months into my job at Roberts Wesleyan College as an Admissions counselor of being anywhere else.
God knew that I would still be in a place of hopelessness now, and that this job would provide a sense of joy for my soul. I work with some of the most incredibly talented, goofy, and hard-working people I have ever met. I have long hours, but wonderful benefits. I am constantly encouraged by my boss in the work that I do. It is competitive, it is challenging, it is enjoyable, and I laugh really hard at least once a day.
Dear college graduate without a job (yet), Your time is coming.
If I had to boil it down to three things I learned during those 10 months of job searching, it would be:
- Don’t give up. Keep searching for new job openings, keep sending your resumes out, keep networking and asking people to connect you, keep calling, keep e-mailing organizations and companies. You never know when it will be your time.
- Stay connected. Even though it was extremely hard for me to find the energy to hang out with friends, I forced myself to. I forced myself to hang out with people, to carry on conversation, and to be honest with a couple of close friends with how much I was struggling.
- Change some things. When I had those long days to sit and think about everything, I came up with lists of things I wanted to change. That is what allowed me to make some good changes once I did get my job, including buying a car, getting a gym membership, changing churches, reading more, cutting my hair, upgrading my phone. Some of those changes allow me to have more responsibility, and with more responsibility comes motivation to keep moving forward.
This might be one of the hardest seasons you will go through, but please remember this does not last forever. Don’t give up, stay connected, and change some things.