Friday, March 2, 2012

"You work, where?"...The Post-Grad Struggle

Don't believe the hype.

I sashayed across the stage and shook my department chair's hand on May 20, 2011, and on December 11, 2011, I took my last undergrad exam (long story short- I got screwed over and ended up taking an extra class).  The week leading up to graduation, I remember hearing Marvin Sapp's "Never Would Have Made It" and bursting into tears, reflecting on the woman I've transitioned into these past 4 years. I started college as a socially awkward and naive 17 year old that only wore flip flops and Air Forces and emerged as a confident, self sufficient, and socially aware 21 year old (with a much better wardrobe, I might add). I cried because one chapter of my life had ended, another would soon begin; one that included a salaried job, a new car and a place of my own.

Or I so thought.

Fast forward months later, and you can find me living in the same bedroom I spent my teenage years,  working at a job where I'm lucky to get 20 hours, and the thought of Sallie Mae calling me scares me to death. This is not the dream I was sold at orientation; I was supposed to be happy, and gainfully employed, not asking my parents to borrow gas money, knowing I can't afford to pay them back.
I didn't expect to be handed things on a silver platter once I graduated, but I also didn't expect to be rejected by every single prospective employer I've interviewed with, even for jobs I was over-qualified for.

There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for the world that is waiting for you once you step off your brick laden campus. And I mean nothing.

As I spent countless days crying and slipping deeper into depression, I thought I was alone, that maybe I had made some grave mistake while I was in school, and was being sentenced to Retail Hell because of it...until I picked up the phone. I've spoke to so many friends and classmates whose graduation day grins have turned into solemn post-grad frowns. With all of our internships, co-ops and subpar networking skills, we expected to enter the workforce ready to shake hands with our destinies and start setting up our 401k's. But we were met with absolutely nothing. And who's to blame for this? Did our professors and advisors give us a false sense of hope and entitlement, forgetting that the job market they entered 20-30 years ago is much different than what we're faced with today? Did we overestimate our own greatness, and underestimate the thousands of other college graduates hitting their dougie across the stage at the same time as us, with skill sets possibly greater than ours? Or maybe we can blame the government, who should have been fighting over how help to us struggling grads instead of bickering over birth control and bombing foreign countries? Or maybe it's some sick and twisted combo of all three...

My point is this, shit is real out here it's scary navigating the world with just a degree and a suit you found on sale at T.J. Maxx. If you're still in college, enjoy it. Enjoy every keg stand and hookup you know you're going to regret later, but go to class, work hard and master to how to cope with anxiety and stress. You'll thank me later. And if you graduated from college many moons ago and you're steadily climbing towards your happily ever after, help us out. Give someone a hug, a shoulder to cry on, or the business card of someone who's hiring (preferably the latter). I don't really have anything else to offer since this is an uphill battle, just pray that I live to fight another day =)



Princess P said...

I stumbled upon your site from Clutch.

As someone who graduated in 08 right when the market went from sugar to well you know, I can say I feel your pain.

I graduated with absolutely no job offers and had to take a job at a label print production company (where I sayed for the next 2 yrs). I hated my job at first, and I'd cry on my way to work and in the car on the way home so my family didn't see how unhappy I was.

However, after a series of life altering events, I realized I needed to take hold of my life. I went back to school, earned my Masters, and finally got a job in my field.

Was it easy? No. Am I getting paid what I'm worth in this entry level job? Hell no! But I've learned to be happy with what I have accomplished, know that I am working towards my greatness and to not compare myself to friends (FB is the devil I tell you!).

Sorry if I was rambling, but I just wanted to conclude with saying it gets better. I'll be 27 this fall and I'm amazed that 4yrs have passed since I graduated and was trying to figure out what the hell was next. In those moments realize that it wont always be that way and that something better is coming.

Ber said...

Thank you! I can always use some advice/words of encouragement.