Coping With The Harsh Reality of Being a Fresh Graduate
Graduating with a 1st class degree, I ticked off every box my parents ever presented to me, academically speaking. But I was unemployed, desperate and starting to really panic that I was never going to get a job.
Words by Eleana Davidson
Image by Tamara Jones
For as long as I can remember I’ve been told: sit at the front of the class, listen to your teachers, work hard and you’ll get good GCSEs, A-levels, then you’ll go to uni. Do a degree you’re passionate about, but good at, that way you’ll smash it. Sit at the front of the class, listen to your teachers, work hard, ace your dissertation, and get a good degree. Graduate. Then the rest will be simple. You get a graduate job straight off the cuff and work your way up from there. Done.
Come September 2017, however, small town girl, twiddling her thumbs at her parent’s home, I was clueless for what was to come. Graduating with a 1st class degree, I ticked off every box my parents ever presented to me, academically speaking. But (for some unfathomable reason) I was unemployed, desperate and starting to really panic that I was never going to get a job.
I’m not alone, every year universities are kicking out thousands upon thousands of fresh faced, hungry for LinkedIn worthy employment graduates with no where to go. Their prospects waver fast and their morale soon diminishes, because no one, not even our parents with their tick boxes and expectations, ever really prepare us for the struggle and constant flurry of rejection that is waiting for us on the other side.
However, now that I sit in my swivel chair working for a marketing agency in a very millennial office, I can breathe a little. A wave of relief washed over me when I first accepted the offer of a full time role as I am now on the first rung of the ladder. I’ve heard, to get on this particular rung, it’s the biggest leap. Once you’re on the ladder, much like the property equivalent, it’s just a case of rolling with the momentum. You’ll be collecting invaluable experience (and CV talking points) every second from now on, but while I am a little chuffed with myself, there was no lack of serious tears, tantrums and pure mental breakdowns along the way which I undoubtedly learnt from. So, I’m telling my tale. I hope fellow graduates can find some comfort and little snippets of advice to take with them on this soul-damaging, mentally-testing journey that you are about to embark on, because trust me, it hurts.
Don’t Believe the Movies
God, your first job will not be like what you see in the movies. You won’t be some fashionista swanning about in New York in between your writing gigs with The Journal and Vogue. You won’t even be able to afford to deviate from beans on toast more than a couple of times a month, let alone have the latest season of Dior on your back (sorry wanna-be Carrie Bradshaw’s). In the morning, picking the day’s outfit, you’ll rotate between four of your most ‘okay-ish’ shirts like the earth does seasons. Footwear will be chosen by comfort ratings, because as an intern, picking up the Managing Director a new yoga mat, or shuffling to the kettle for the ninth time in an afternoon, does not marry up well with heels.
It’s Okay to Rethink and Reroute
It’s okay to come straight out of uni and apply for the ASOS graduate scheme or have your heart set on the Lloyd’s of London training programme. Don’t walk away from this article and think you have to scrap all your big wonderful ideas because it’s never going to happen because seriously, it could be you. It could always be you. All I’m saying is that the journey to your dream job may look a little different, that’s all. Be open to that idea. Instead of one internship, you might have to do three. You may even get fired once or twice and you might even realise your dream job isn’t actually your dream job and you have to rethink everything entirely. Whatever life throws in your way, ride with it.
Sex Up Your LinkedIn
Being on the other side of recruitment I’ve come to realise how much companies, especially the likes of marketing/advertising agencies, adore a little stalk on LinkedIn. It's the new millennial CV. Use this platform as a way of peacocking - everyone does it - show off your experience and it’s an excellent way of showcasing your interests and your voice. Comment on posts, share trending topics and connect with the industry Top Dogs. If your CV comments on how you like fundraising for Charities, post your latest Half Marathon time and who you fundraised for. You’ve been the president of your city’s Rugby Club for the last 10 years? Upload some pictures of you and your team winning last season’s league.
Most importantly, use LinkedIn to your advantage. Don’t just use it to show off your experience, use your investigation skills too. More often than not, an email is sent to a potential employer from the hiring manager so you’ll know who is interviewing you before you even walk into to the building. Do your research. Not just research regarding the company, no the world has moved on from that, now you can do research on the interviewer. Find some mutual interests such as what they studied at university or what their interests outside of work are. It’s a clever (and ethically sound) way of giving yourself some confidence and leg up from other candidates, so that you can strut into that office building and ace that interview like the boss bitch we all know you are.
All in all, I’m not telling you to lose hope or lower your standards, not at all, but what I do have to say is be flexible, be kind to yourself and be resourceful. Don’t worry if things aren’t going exactly the way you had planned them too. Don’t keep those thoughts inside your head about how all your university friends have got this promotion or that new office, just let them go. You do you, and you know what, you’re going to be just fine. You’re going to get a job, you’re going to be whatever you want to be. Take comfort in that and have faith in the universe. Now, what are you waiting for? Go Linkedin stalk your next boss!