You just celebrated the biggest accomplishment of your life: college graduation. The past seven days have been filled with partying, family celebrations, graduation gifts and way too much cake for one person to consume.
Your greatest concern has been deciding if you're going to your friend's party on Friday night or your boyfriend's friend's party. Life is pretty damn good.
You've bid adieu to homework, studying, late-night cram sessions, group projects and every other hideous school offense. But you're still blissfully unaware of what you're soon going to be saying hello to.
In the course of 24 hours, you've transformed from carefree college senior to real world adult, dealing with real world sh*t. Step one of this whole real world thing usually involves finding a job, or so they say. While it may have been somewhat acceptable to live off Ramen, bread and milk in college, you're now entering a world where it's frowned upon to lack the financial stability to afford at least one real meal per day.
Thankfully, we live in a day and age where job hunting is easier than ever. But perhaps the infinite possibilities of job hunting also make it that much more difficult?
Do you go through LinkedIn? Family friends? That one girl in your sorority who was a few years older than you and who is killing it in the work force?
What about your cousin? Craigslist? Job postings online? A recruiting or staffing agency? If you're truly interested in finding a job (and fast), all these avenues should be explored to some extent.
However, similar to the way you feel overwhelmed at a buffet-style restaurant thanks to endless options for your first, second and third course meals (as well as dessert), knowing you can literally find a job anywhere can also be extremely intimidating.
Not only can you find a job anywhere, but you can also make just about anything into a job. All of this probably just sounds like less of a reason for you to have an excuse for mom and dad when they ask you why you're still living at their house and eating their food five months from now.
College graduates, no matter where you are five months from now – whether it's on the couch in your underwear or waking up at 6 am from Monday through Friday for your 9-to-5 job – know that the panic that ensues as you begin your first real job search affects just about everyone.
Unless you've known from the time you were in diapers that you wanted to be a doctor or lawyer (or sell tractors for a living), you will experience the struggle that is your first job search.
1. End Of The Party
As the confetti settles and the hype of the class of 20-whatever wears off, the realization that this is the beginning of the rest of your life begins to sink in.
2. The Social Media Clean Out
Now that you're officially a grown-up, it's time to accept the fact that all those potential future bosses of yours are digging through your social media platforms, just looking for a reason not to hire you.
Be smart and cautious. Clean up those drunken Facebook or Instagram photos and inappropriate Twitter comments.
3. Resume Re-haul
It's been quite some time since you've perused the paper version of yourself, hasn't it?
You dust off that old resume and spend half a day researching "how to write the best resume." Then, you get to serious work on yours.
4. Application Frenzy
It's still early in your job search, and you're feeling hopeful. You research all the companies you've always dreamed of working at, and reach out to some of their employees via LinkedIn.
You're crafting killer cover letters, applying to at least five jobs a day and feeling great.
5. The Waiting Game
It's been a week since you applied to your first real job, but you've heard nothing. You're not really sure how long it typically takes to hear back from these jobs, but you feel like it's starting to be longer than you previously anticipated.
Not only have you not heard back from those dream jobs you applied to, but you also haven't even received polite declines from the safety jobs you would use as good backups.
Sigh. Waiting sucks.
6. Loss Of Heart
It feels like you can't write another freaking cover letter. Everything's starting to sound the same. You've applied to more jobs than you ever thought was humanly possible.
You spend all your free time browsing LinkedIn or thinking of anyone in your family or friend group you could contact for work. Any inkling of excitement you possessed at the beginning of your job hunt has vanished.
Some of your friends have started landing jobs or finalizing graduate school plans, while you're just sitting there, balancing online job applications with online retail therapy.
This is a very dangerous step, and it's potentially the beginning of your downward spiral. This is the point where you begin looking at your peers and wondering, "Why them and not me? I'm just as smart and talented. I have just as many connections as they do. Why don't I have a job?"
8. The Final Straw
Not only have your friends started sharing their post-grad plans, but they've also started sharing those photos of their world travels.
While you're packing up your room and reminiscing about the memories you created in your senior year living space, "Tiffany" is off traipsing through the Greek Isles.
Warning: This is the point of ultimate breakdown.
9. The Teapot Boiling Over
You lose your sh*t. Suddenly, your lease is up. But your friends have moved away from home, are traveling or, better yet, are working and earning their own money.
Meanwhile, you're piling all your sh*t in your car to take home to mom and dad. "Why me? Why am I the one with no plans and no prospects?"
It's struggle enough not to cry every day, let alone get yourself out of bed in the morning.
"For what? What's even my purpose anymore?"
10. The Rainbow At the End Of The Sh*t Storm
After a bit more time – the amount of time differs for everyone – spent wallowing in self-pity between online job submissions, finally, something clicks.
You land that second interview with the company you really liked. All of a sudden, things might be looking up. They just might.
11. A New Life
Just like that, you're negotiating salaries at your new job. Yes, you read that correctly: You officially have a J-O-B.
You're asking about corporate culture and what to wear to work. You did it, grad.
Life after college isn't easy for anyone. Sure, at the beginning, it's a blast. You get that well-deserved break after working your butt off to obtain that degree. Now, you get to relish your time at mom and dad's with some serious R&R.
But pretty soon, the reality of the real world sinks in. You start feeling the underlying pressure to get out in the job market. Not to mention the fact there are only so many shows you can binge-watch on Netflix before you feel utterly brain dead.
While this can perhaps be one of the most difficult times in a young adult's life, know that it's worth it. In the months (or even years) it takes you to land your first job, you learn so much about yourself.
You'll learn about your drive, your ability to handle rejection and your desire to be employed. Yes, you'll most likely turn to family and friends to seek advice in this time of need. But at the end of the day, the decisions are all yours.
This is your life that's beginning and thus, your path you're creating. While the panic that ensues when you realize it's time to hit that job search is overwhelming, know that you're not alone.
After working throughout college and having great internships and tons of valuable connections, I graduated and found myself 100 percent jobless. I went through the steps and emotional roller coaster that is post-grad life.
After going through more tissue boxes than I ever thought was humanly possible, I found the light at the end of the tunnel. On June 29 at 2 pm, I got that call. I was extended a job offer from a company I had only dreamed of working at.
I hung up the phone, still in complete shock. I spoke the words, "I have a job" out loud, instead of physically pinching myself back to reality.
This was reality, though. It was my reality.
Two hours after that, I hopped on a plane back home – I had overextended my stay at my friends' places – where I received an email upon landing that my roommate and I had been approved for an apartment. In less than seven hours, I went from living out of a bag in the back of my car to getting a full-time job and my first apartment.
Never did I imagine myself struggling so much after graduation to find a job. Do I wish that kind of panic, anxiousness and frustration on anyone? Never.
However, it's all part of life. Whether you're a new graduate or five years into the workforce, know that we've all experienced the cycle of job-hunting blues.
All I can say is, welcome to the real world, friends. It's a bumpy ride.