Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Life Post-Graduation: Unemployment and Job Hunting

Perth WA, Australia
It’s something I started worrying about before I even graduated. The dreaded job hunt and total uncertainty that you face once University is over. It’s quite a remarkable thing after all; having finished my final semester in June, I realized that for the first time in my young adulthood, I was facing life outside of some form of educational institution. And it’s absolutely terrifying not knowing what you’ll be doing next, or where you will be this time next year.
What has to be the most difficult aspect about ‘life after university’ is without a doubt, the job hunt. It’s not the actual job hunting that I despise: it’s the anxious waiting around for a phone call, any phone call, offering you an interview or the job itself. The whole process can be soul destroying, confidence depleting and honestly, can make you feel worthless.
After interning in London pretty much full time for almost three months, nothing was more frustrating than returning home and not having a fulfilling job to occupy my time. Having got a taste of the working life, I ended up loving contributing my skills each day. I took a risk by not taking back my job back home in a bakery, not because I thought I was above that kind of work (I have been applying for hospitality and retail jobs as well as full time graduate positions), but because I simply yearned for a change in scenery having worked in the same building for 3+ years. So experiencing a complete turnaround from not only my time in London, but my busy life as a student who kept up a steady job, has not been easy in the slightest. It’s so hard to not just give up at the end of the day, and at some points I almost have. But I’ve slowly been learning how to avoid the rut and stay motivated. I have heard many, many similar stories to mine, and knowing my close friends will be facing a similar situation come graduation next year, it inspired me to create somewhat of a guide to dealing with life post-graduation and making life meaningful during the difficult period of unemployment/job hunting phase.
Create a routine
The crucial thing I’ve found to maintaining motivation is creating some sort of routine. While it’s tempting to lie in until 12pm every day, I have found it so much more fulfilling to treat each day as if it were a working day. For me, this has meant setting my alarm for 7 and getting up and ready at 7:30am. Same goes for the evening; I aim to go to bed at 10:30pm on a weeknight so I feel fully rested the next day.
Now, the next step to creating a routine is a little trickier and something I got better at with time. Obviously, a big chunk of the day is likely spent job searching and tweaking resumes/CVs to no avail. I found that I couldn’t stand doing this all day, every day and it left me feeling depleted and, essentially, devoid of life and enthusiasm. It is integral that you maintain a balance. Treat this period as an opportunity to do things you’ve always wanted to do, but have always felt too busy to commit time to. I found that once I approached an otherwise stressful situation in a positive way, my general outlook for the future was a lot brighter because my general well being improved entirely.
Make time for hobbies: Dedicate at least one hour a day to rediscovering beloved past times. Dust off your neglected instrument, get out some paints and paint brushes, get back into writing…the possibilities are limitless! Hobbies are such noble and worthy pursuits to commit your time to and will make you feeling a helluva lot happier in the long run.
Get in the kitchen: One of my favourite ways to spend my spare time is in the kitchen, trying out recipes from my ever growing collection of cookbooks. Not only is it therapeutic, but it also poses as an opportunity to improve your diet. By focusing on wholesome, home cooked meals, I have noticed an improvement in my physical health, contributing to general well-being. That’s not to say that a batch of chocolate chip cookies every now and then aren’t on the menu…
Get active: I admit to not being the biggest sports enthusiast, but I couldn’t be a more devout advocate of getting outside and getting active at least once a day. We’ve just entered Spring in Australia, so I have found so much joy taking walks through the park in the mild sunshine. The exercise doesn’t even have to be rigorous; anything that gets you moving is better than nothing and will help clear the brain fog!
Be social: And I don’t just mean online. Make time for friends and family. It may seem obvious, but after falling into the ‘woe-is-me’ mentality at one point, the last thing I wanted to do was socialize. However, it really makes a world of difference and helps to keep your mind off worrying for a little while.
Explore your city: Take some time for self-care and see your hometown or city in a new way. One of my favourite past times is seeking out new cafes and finding a cosy spot to read for a couple of hours. While money is tight, I enjoy simply having a cup of coffee or chai. Aside from this, I find comfort knowing there are always free exhibitions to see and parks and beaches to wander through. I also keep an eye out for cheap events on facebook or local web guides; anything from poetry nights to live gigs by up and coming local musicians. There’s so much out there to discover if you’re willing to make the time to unearth it all.
Take an online course: This one is a recent revelation, made possible by reading Amy’s latest post. It’s the perfect way to learn about a topic that you’ve always been interested, but perhaps not pursued. For me, history of art is case in point. I studied it as an elective one semester and have always wanted to continue studying it in my own time ever since. At the moment, I’m taking the Modern Art and Ideas course by MoMA and am excited to be taking Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender at the beginning of October (both courses are available on Coursera). Having weekly readings and therefore having something to put on my to-do list has helped significantly with establishing a routine, and I feel productive learning about something I love.

Read: This one is a no-brainer. What better time than the present to get through your reading list and make a dent in that overflowing pile of books that you have been meaning to read since, well, forever?
Listen to Podcasts: Podcasts are my new favourite things. If you’re feeling a little down, they’re the perfect way to pick yourself up again. There’s just something about listening to inspiring people talk about what they do and what they hope to achieve that’s infectious and will leave you feeling motivated to make a change in your life.
Discover new music: I’m pretty convinced that there is no greater joy than discovering a new favourite song, band or singer and getting completely lost in their music. I know without a doubt that I can’t be the only one who feels most inspired when I find some fresh new tunes!
Volunteer: This has to be one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time. Find a cause you're particularly passionate about and set aside an hour or two a week to helping out in your community.
While this period can be such a tough time, it’s important to never lose hope; I hold firm to this belief ever since I stumbled upon a touching piece of street art on Brick Lane. In the words or wrdsmth, I think the best advice I can give myself and others is:
‘Give it your very best every single day. And don’t be so hard on yourself come nightfall’
I have adopted this as my personal mantra, because nothing could be closer to the truth. To all you fellow graduates or soon to be graduates who are worried about the future that lies ahead, I wish you all the best in your job search. We’ve just got to stick it out and give it our all and strive for the very best that we can achieve.

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