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10 Ways to Beat the Post-College Slump

Finding a job in this climate is hard for everyone, but especially so for recent graduates. Many are forced to move home with their parents and take jobs they previously held in high school. Fear not, this so-called College Slump is something you’ll overcome. We’ll show you how.

 

First, the bad news: 2011 college graduates are facing the worst job outlook in years, with many 20-somethings headed home to live with their folks and work jobs they previously held during the summers between college semesters.

The good news: the post-graduation latency period is a rite of passage in life, like playing beer pong and pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper. So even in the best economic conditions, a “college slump” is inevitable. While 2011 graduates might feel alone right now, millions of people have been in their shoes before.

Here are 10 ways to beat the post-college slump:

1. Embrace moving home with your parents. Reportedly, 85 percent of 2011 graduates are moving back home with their folks, which has become the phenomenon of the decade, along with those birds that collectively fell from the sky in Arkansas. Yeah, you lose your privacy, but moving back home with your parents for a bit definitely has its benefits: you get to save money; there’s usually food on the table nightly; and losing your independence drives you to find a job so you can get out on your own.

2. Stay motivated. If you’re not working in the field you studied in school, stay abreast of business trends by reading up about your field, through blogs, trade papers, and other periodicals. Also, become acquainted with as many job search sites as you can.

3. Find a malemployment job that you enjoy. Malemployment is when college graduates take jobs that require no degrees. If you’re having problems finding a post-college job in your field and you just need a job (period), consider a degree-less job you can enjoy. Work as a dog walker if you like animals or at J. Crew if you like style. Starbucks is a great post-college job because the company offers health benefits as well as free pounds of coffee weekly.

4. Volunteer. Sure, people don’t want to pay others for work right now, but if you volunteer, whether it’s through internships or community service, those people will remember you when jobs are available. With the 2012 presidential elections coming up, a lot of opportunities involving campaigning will grow, which will be especially beneficial to political science majors.

5. Reconnect with people from home. If you’re forced to move back home, find the people that were mentors or friends to you before you headed off to college. Chances are they will be excited to see you, and if they, too, left for college and are now back home, they are probably in the same boat as you.

6. Go where the people are. One of the hardest things about a “college slump” is no longer being surrounded by 18- to 22-year-olds. To combat this, go to concerts, hip new bars, and join town sports leagues. It won’t be the same experience as college, but staying active will help you make friends and meet new people. Plus, they may not all be 22-year-olds, but people who stay active are young at heart.

7. Contact alumni/people in your field and ask how they got where they are. College alumni offices will have alumni contact lists for new graduates to utilize. Talk to these alumni; they are happy to talk about their jobs and often can provide you with advice or maybe even some leads. Sometimes it’s also just comforting to hear about people’s humble beginnings.

8. Be patient. This may be the hardest thing to do, but it’s definitely the most important. In life, not everything comes right away, and you have to remember that there is a life for you out there that’s better than the one you have today.

9. Find a like-minded support system. Thankfully, 2011 graduates live in the Internet age when they can find/make friends at their fingertips. Stay in touch with your college friends via Facebook, and lament together about not finding jobs/apartments. It will make you feel less alone.

10. Remember, this is temporary. The situation. The degree-less job. Everything. French novelist Marcel Proust apparently believed that the years he suffered were in fact the best years of his life because they shaped him as a person. Someday, you’ll look back on your post-college years slaving away as a bus boy and think, “That was kind of fun.”

Right now, post-graduate life seems kind of grim for many recent graduates, but as someone who survived living at home with her parents (four years!), volunteering everywhere, and working thankless jobs, I can tell you that the situation does have an expiration date. It will probably happen when you least expect it.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/19/business/economy/19grads.html
http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/jun/14/college-graduates-facing-dismal-employment-prospec/
http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/05/10/survey-85-of-new-college-grads-moving-back-in-with-mom-and-dad/
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec10/graduates_12-03.html
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110106-birds-falling-from-sky-bird-deaths-arkansas-science/

About

Megan McLachlan currently resides in the Pittsburgh area where she freelance writes, drinks coffee, and obsesses over popular culture. She was an English major, but doesn't think she wasted her life. Yet. Her blog is megoblog.com.

 
  • Jay

    Heck I’m a 2011 grad, had a job lined up in November 2010, starting in four weeks and STILL going to live home until May (working in public accounting makes it kind of hard to move out during tax season). Can’t beat the opportunity to save up roughly 6 months worth of wages and hit the ground running when I move out.

  • http://www.mystressproblem.com Steven

    Hey there, thanks for the tips! I’m sure that they will help be to cross this stressong period towards a long term work solution.

  • Adam R

    I graduated in 2010 but I was in the same boat. I moved in with the parents and got a few jobs to hold me over. Last Sept. I took a job as a runner at a law firm. I was making minimum wage and working 20 something hours a week. Now after a year and a couple of people leaving I have just been promoted to Administrative Assistant/Marketing (I have a B.S. in Marketing). I plan on living with my parents about 6-8 more months while I put aside 80% of my salary for a down payment on a house. It’s been a hell of a year, but it’s definitely helped shape me and my work ethic and made me a better person.

  • dovev

    great tips. not so simple or plesent to do but effective.

  • http://www.bootdryer.com/ Boot Dryer

    I would die if I had to move back in with my parents after being independent from them for 4-6 years! I understand why but still…

  • Max

    A note on volunteering: if you volunteer in your community make sure to get your hours certified by an organization that does so. You may apply for the Presidential Volunteer Service Medal, which includes a pin and a signed letter from the president. It will look good on your resume. The better you can make your resume look, the more desireable you become.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Max, that’s a great tip, thank you for sharing it!

  • http://games.meegoh.com vernon

    I hate moving back to my parents, yet i miss those happy moments we had.. I graduated last 2010 and get a good and stable job..

  • Megan McLachlan

    Some people move back home with their parents and never want to leave! (a la Step Brothers and Failure to Launch).

  • bili osi

    “losing your independence drives you to find a job so you can get out on your own”
    From my personal experience, if I could stay home with my parents, I might have stayed there until now (it’s been 8 years:) I think that it only encourages you to stay depends on the parents. Not so !?

  • Ricardo

    Excellent article! I moved back in with my parents after graduation, and I don’t think enough people take into consideration just what an opportunity enjoying the low cost of living that staying with the ‘rents affords.

    If your honest dream is to be self employed, and start your own business, there will NEVER be a time in your life where you can commit yourself to it so much (financially). You don’t need to make enough money to pay rent, bills, furniture etc (though a classy man will always make his parents proud by picking up the light bill), and that allows you to redirect your time and what money you ARE making into really giving the small business idea a shot.

    Any entrepeneur will tell you, the hardest time is the first couple of years, before you establish a brand and have a regular clientel. Well, if you live with your parents, you simply dont have to make as much money as you may have had to had you been living alone. Your overhead is lower your margin for error is higher, and your supprt system is stronger. See it as the opprtunity it is!

  • matt

    The worst part for me has been the fact that I went to school in a large city, and ended up getting a job in the suburbs of another city. I didn’t have to move home with my parents, but I moved into a neighborhood of all families and had to find random roommates on craigslist who are almost twice my age. It sucks. I would have rather lived at home with my parents than be living on my own with people I don’t know or even get to see (our schedules are totally different), in a quiet suburban jungle where I have so few opportunities to meet new people.

  • WAHHH

    i honestly don’t know what to do with myself anymore. I’ve never felt so hopeless before. My sisters, who never even went to college and are debt free, are making more money washing dishes than I am right now. What a load…

  • Brad

    I’m really surprised nobody made mention of working abroad. Gap year jobs are huge, and they’re pretty profitable. I’ve lived and worked in Taiwan for 18 months, and while the annual salary isn’t more than about $22000 US, the high standard of living/low cost of living means that I’m doing well for myself and saving money. English teaching jobs are easy to come by over here, and while doing this certainly isn’t for everybody, a year or two here is a better job experience (and way, way better life experience) than working at Starbucks or The Gap.

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