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.