Raise your hand if you’ve nearly had a panic attack in the last month when anyone asked you, “So, what are your plans for after graduation?” If you did, you’re definitely not alone. Graduating from college is scary, and when you have everyone asking about your plans, whether it’s your grandmother or your favorite barista, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. If you don’t have a job lined up for your first Monday in the adult world, it’s okay! Here are 18 things to do if you haven’t landed a job by graduation.
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. Before you read any further, you need to stop worrying about what everyone and their dog are doing. Comparison will hurt your happiness. Don’t worry about your friend who just landed an amazing fashion PR job in NYC or your other friend who is traveling the world for a year. What you need to remember is that everyone reaches success at their own rate. Some people land super cool dream jobs after college, while others take an entire year before they get noticed by an employer. When you stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and you focus on your journey, you’ll stress less about your future.
2. Find a Part-Tme Job Related to Your Field. Just because you haven’t had success finding a full-time job in your field doesn’t mean you can’t find a part-time job. There are plenty of employers who are seeking part-time or temporary workers who have a specific skill set. And who knows? These employers might hire you on full time if you impress them with your work.
3. Volunteer Your Skills. No one wants to work for free, but this can be a great way to build your resume while making a difference in the world. Surprisingly, volunteering is a great way to network your way into an organization you’re passionate about. For example, let’s say you have a degree in public relations. Reach out to nonprofits in your area, and see if they can use some help managing their social media accounts. This is a great way to gain experience, make new contacts and build a reputation for yourself as a young professional.
4. Change Your Perspective. At the end of the day, it’s not about how much money you’re making or your job title. It’s about whether you’re doing what you love and if you can provide for your basic needs. Once you slow down, you’ll stop worrying about where you think “you should be.”
5. Start a Blog. Blogging is a great way to build credibility for yourself. Especially if you have a degree in a creative field like public relations, graphic design, fashion, music or business, blogging allows you to demonstrate your skills, passions and knowledge. Plus, you can include your blog in your resume and portfolio.
6. Do Something You’ve Always Wanted to Do. Has it been your dream to become a yogi? Do you want to learn how to grow a garden? Use this downtime to focus on a passion you never had time to pursue in college.
7. Set Up Informational Interviews. One of the best ways to grow your career after college is to meet with people who’ve been in your shoes. Use social media to find professionals who are living the career you want, connect with them and request to set up a phone meeting or Skype call.
8. Find a Mentor. Every college graduate needs a mentor. This individual can offer insight that a friends and your parents can’t provide. Connect with someone in your field who can be your cheerleader and connect you with employment opportunities.
9. Launch a Business. Do you have a burning desire to be an entrepreneur? Are you ready to do something creative and share it with the world? Why not turn this energy into an opportunity to launch a business? Who knows; you might be able to to transform your Etsy shop into a multi-million dollar startup.
10. Work Abroad. Many college graduates are often struck with a case of wanderlust after being in school for four years. If you don’t have the money to travel Europe for three months, why not become an au pair? You could also volunteer or teach English in a foreign country.
11. Be Patient. At this very moment, you need to stop worrying about your five-year plan. The truth is, your job search may take you a week, two months or even a year. Although it’s hard to be patient at this time in your life, trust that the right opportunities will come your way.
12. Create a Routine. The most important thing you can do during your job search is to keep busy. Don’t allow yourself to binge on 15 episodes of Girls and eat an entire box of Oreos. Instead, create a schedule that requires you to stay active, meet up with friends, research job opportunities and develop your skills. This way, you won’t go stir crazy as you hang out at mom and dad’s house all summer.
13. Get Involved With a Professional Organization. As soon as you graduate, get involved with a professional organization that can grow your network. Whether it’s something related to your field or a young professionals’ group, this is a great opportunity to make a name for yourself in your community and meet new peeps!
14. Use Social Media to Your Advantage. Social media is a powerful way to network and discover job opportunities. Use platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to network with professionals, recruiters and employers in your field. You never know — you might get a job offer through an Instagram photo or a direct message on Twitter.
15. Broaden Your Job Search. The biggest mistake new graduates make is only using job boards during their search. The world is filled with so many opportunities beyond Indeed or Monster. Use Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, alumni, family and friends to help you find opportunities.
16. Be Persistent. Never, ever give up on your job search! Whenever you submit a job application, follow up within a week of applying. It’s also important to follow up after every job interview. Your persistence will pay off.
17. Know Your Limitations. The reality is, it will be challenging to find your dream job right after college. Don’t create expectations so high for yourself that you can’t reach them in a reasonable amount of time. Remember that you are young and still have a very long career ahead of you.
18. Don’t Panic! Finally, don’t freak out. Just breathe and remind yourself you’ve just accomplished something that many people don’t have the opportunity to do — graduate from college. You will find a job. There is an employer waiting to hire you. Just remember to trust the journey and take advantage of any opportunity to grow your career.
What’s your biggest fear about life after college? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
(feature image via Slaven Vlasic/Stringer/Getty)