The ceremonies and graduation parties are behind you at long last, but you are in meltdown mode because you still haven’t found a job. What are you going to do? Student loans are looming just six months away. How will you ever repay them? And you’ve seen the news reports. Jobs can be hard to come by. (Insert panic here.)
You might feel like it’s your fault. You put all your eggs in one basket or submitted too few applications. You were so sure you’d get an offer you didn’t even bother putting in applications at other companies and now it’s too late. You learned a valuable lesson. Now take some time to regroup.
On the flip side, maybe you were the one who did everything right. You’ve been going to the college fairs since freshman year. You had your first interview in October and accepted the job in December. And then…the offer was rescinded. Can they do that? It wasn’t even your fault! What is up with this company? While it’s rare, an offer might be rescinded for a number of reasons. Budget cuts. Hiring freezes. You took too long to decide and another candidate accepted. The recruiter detected your uncertainty about the position. No one wants to get this news, but if you did, it’s not the end of the world.
Relax. That’s right. I said it.
I realize mom and dad probably won’t agree—especially if you’re camping out in their house with your feet up on the coffee table. If that’s the case they absolutely should give you the kick in the pants you need to get in gear. Give me a minute to make my case.
‘Relax’ does not translate into ‘do nothing’. It just means not having that career locked in this summer might be a blessing in disguise. You have your whole life ahead of you and you will be working for the next forty plus years. (!) Why not make this summer work for you?
Why it Might be Okay to Find Your Career in the Fall
The competition was fierce. Sadly, another candidate swooped in and took your perfect job right from under your nose. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Apparently, it wasn’t the perfect job for you. At least not right now. Maybe you didn’t get the job because you weren’t quite there. It’s very difficult due to the volume of applications and interviews for recruiters to give you specific feedback regarding your interview. Or any feedback at all. Go back and read the job description and be honest with yourself. If the position required six months of customer service and you only have three, summer is the perfect time to remedy that. Choose your summer job wisely. Make sure it will add to the skills you can offer an employer.
You didn’t feel good about the offer(s) you received. You’re sure a better fit is out there. You took a risk and declined an offer or two, and that’s okay. It wouldn’t look good on your resume to quit a job just three months in. I see short stints like this frequently on resumes, but despite the message sent by many professors, new grads can and do enter companies and build very successful careers without job-hopping. I interviewed for several opportunities the summer after graduation and weighed my options before making a decision. I’ve been with my company for several years, as have many of my co-workers, and have received many promotions.
But on the other hand…some of your classmates might have accepted the first job offer that came their way thinking they wouldn’t receive another one. Or they really thought it was the right job. In a few months reality could set in. It becomes obvious their skill set or interest(s) don’t line up with the company goals or job duties. Perhaps the career path isn’t going to take them where they want to go. (They want to be an event planner, but there are no opportunities like that in the organization.) If by that time you’ve spent the summer discovering and honing your skills you might find that same job would be great for you!
You were barking up the wrong tree. Admit it. During your final semester you applied for anything and everything. Big mistake. You’re a sales person. You knew it in high school, the day you talked your dad into buying you a $6000 car for you instead of the $2000 beater he had his eye on. So why did you apply for Administrative Assistant? Well, you reasoned, it’s a foot in the door. But maybe not the best way in. Wouldn’t the company be most likely to promote someone in their training program who they are specifically grooming for sales management over someone in an unrelated role? Plus, the recruiter could tell when she read your objective: To contribute to an organization by increasing revenue utilizing exceptional sales techniques and negotiation skills. So, you avoided six months of misery typing documents when you don’t even like typing!
Enjoy one final summer before you begin your ‘real job’. Everyone earns vacation time, but unless you become a teacher the chances of having three full months off work again are slim. But I caution you, don’t do this without planning ahead. You should have attended career fairs, collected information, and shook a few hands to lay the groundwork for your career search. Use this time to do something meaningful—volunteer, travel abroad or reflect on your long-term goals.
Three months to network and find the right job. Networking happens every day, not just at networking events—and it’s not all job-related. I meet aspiring writers all the time and invite them to the writing group I attend. I invited a girl in the cafe at my gym to church. (Yes, l make conversation with random people. I consider it a gift.) I put an acquaintance seeking work in touch with someone who works in her field. You can connect with others at your summer job (and you should all have one), parties, wedding receptions, sports leagues and anywhere else you find people. Luckily, due to social media you don’t have to limit your networking to your own city. But remember, it’s not just about you. Consider what you can offer to those you meet.
Get to know your likes & dislikes through your summer job. Shadow, volunteer or intern in your field of interest. You might find it’s right up your alley. Or it’s not what you’d hoped for— and you’ll have time to make adjustments to your plan.
Now that I’ve talked you down off the ceiling, realize you’re not the only recent grad still waiting to begin your career. Your free time can actually work for you. Be sure to check out my next entry for tips to make your summer count.