A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my experiences post-university. I said in the title of the post that it was the “hard truth”, and I did not sugar-coat it. Yes, it wasn’t the most positive post, but I feel as though it is best to be honest when discussing real-life scenarios, particularly on the internet. I’m sure you all know that most people (particularly on social media) present their highlight reel, which can make people feel negative about their own lives. I don’t particularly have a problem with this on the surface (of course you’re not going to post pictures of all the negative experiences in your life to Instagram!) but I, personally, like to read ~real talk~ blog posts once in a while so I know that my experiences are normal and that many people are going through (or have gone through) the same thing. It’s reassuring! In any case, a couple of people suggested that I write about how I dealt with the awful period between graduating university and getting a job. As I spent about five months in this limbo, I feel I am more than qualified to answer!
First of all, you have to realise immediately that there is no guaranteed timeframe when looking for full-time work. You could get the first job you apply for, or the fiftieth. There’s absolutely no way to tell, so by knowing from the outset that it can take weeks (or most likely, months), you’ll set yourself up in a better frame of mind to get through the process. Then the fun part starts – applying for jobs. Ohhhh joy. Here in Australia (and I’m assuming most parts of the world), job applications are done entirely online, primarily through job seeking websites such as seek.com.au. I was on Seek every. single. day. I hated looking at the website and the endless generic job titles and descriptions, but it’s unfortunately the best way to get your resume out there. If you’re serious about looking for a fulfilling full-time job, you should be on one of these kind of websites daily, applying for every relevant job that comes up. It’s repetitive and frustrating – enjoy.
Now, amongst this daily grind of applications and rejections, it is vitally important that there are people in your life that you can talk to about this process, and who will be sympathetic in return. My parents, as much as I love them, were awful at this. Daily rejection from potential employers, combined with your parents commenting on how you’re not trying hard enough really takes its toll on your mental health. It got to the point where I broke down crying when my boyfriend told me his manager asked him if I was doing ok, and that he knew how hard applying for jobs could be. It is so, so important to know that you are not a failure because you haven’t become employed overnight, and equally important to surround yourself with people who can reassure you when it gets tough. I’m even feeling emotional typing this out now, as the memory of how I felt during this time still feels raw, despite occurring a couple of years ago now.
So – you’re applying for jobs, and (hopefully) have a supportive network of people around you. What else? Find something to distract you from the painful reality of your existence, of course! Ok, so that may be a little harsh, but what I’m getting at is that you should throw yourself into a couple of hobbies. I – the girl who hates exercise – started the couch to 5K program when I first started applying for jobs. I did so in the middle of an Australian summer, which in hindsight was perhaps not the smartest idea, but I stuck to the program and actually finished it! I couldn’t believe that I went from barely exercising to running three times a week, and literally running 5 kilometres in 30 minutes! This activity was so valuable to me, as it cost nothing (other than buying a new pair of runners), and made me feel like I was doing something productive with my life when most other aspect had come to a grinding halt.
I also spent a quite a lot of time in my home town of Port Fairy in order to get out of the city (and my house) for a bit. The occasional change of scenery did me good, and I’d really recommend for anyone to do the same thing if at all possible. Going on a long, luxurious holiday was clearly out of the question considering my state of unemployment, so being able to get out of the city was really valuable.
Basically, what I’m getting at here is look after yourself! Job searching is an awful experience, so to get through it you need to make sure you don’t become depressed along the way. Take a long bath with a good book and rainymood in the background. Hang out at a friend’s house and eat cheap pizza and wine, and compare your job search experiences. Get out in the sunshine every day. Go dancing and don’t feel bad when your friends take pity on you and buy your drinks (you’ll repay the favour one day, I promise). Become a pro at Mario Kart (except for Rainbow Road, because that shit is impossible). Read Great Expectations. Reread Harry Potter. Let your boyfriend look after you when you’re having a bad day. Vent to your sister. I did every one of these things, and made it out the other end ok. Don’t let unemployment define you. You’re an excellent and worthwhile person, and eventually employers will realise it too.