Surviving the Post-Grad Job Search Slump
Via Mashable : By now, graduates of the class of 2014 have walked across the stage, turned their tassels and received their coveted diplomas.
You’ve worked really hard over the past four years and had some awesome experiences — and there’s a good chance you’re a little burned out from finals (not to mention one or two graduation celebrations). There’s just one problem: You don’t have a job.
It’s a pretty crummy time to be a college grad. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate for college graduates ages 20 to 24 stood at 8% in 2013, compared to about 5% in 2007. This is a huge problem, particularly as more young professionals take on jobs that don’t necessarily apply to their expertise, effectively putting a wedge between their dream career paths and future realities.
While it’s easy to get discouraged, remember that others have been in your shoes and still found success. Let’s take a look at a few grads who made their own way.
Get in touch with your entrepreneurial spirit
While diving headfirst into a new business may sound intimidating, getting a little help from your friends can alleviate any qualms you may have. That’s what a group of Sarah Lawrence grads did in 2005 and it paid off big time.
Co-founder Jay Sterrenberg and his buddies knew they wanted to work in media, but not necessarily as competitors. So they started Meerkat Media Collective, a service that creates media content including commissioned films, interactive websites and television programming for clients like HBO, Google, MTV Networks, Penguin Group and Columbia University. In the broader scheme of things, all profits support creative efforts by the filmmakers, photographers and other participants who are part of the wider Meerkat collective.
Lesson: Starting the job hunt separately in a more traditional manner may have put Sterrenberg and his colleagues at the bottom of the food chain. Collectively, they were much stronger. Sit down with like-minded friends and professional connections who have similar interests and discuss how you can merge ideas: Doing so can help you to create something really valuable, from business ventures to innovative products. It is important to note that not all friends make great business partners, so choose your team, co-founders, etc. wisely when undertaking a new business venture.
Look beyond the post-grad internship
The “perpetual intern” is an all-too-real stereotype many young professionals face today. After completing publishing internships in London, Athens and Milan — all without full-time job offers — Alec Dudson decided enough was enough.
Instead of being stuck in the intern cycle, he branded himself as a leader, starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for his own magazine, intern. The publication was designed to present the best internship talent in creative industries, as well as to bring up hot-button issues such as intern culture and its effects. It quickly gained a cult-like following from students and young professionals alike.
Today, intern is a biannual publication that provides tips and inspiration to those who need it the most: Young professionals unsure of their next steps in an ever-changing creative landscape.
Lesson: While post-grad internships are a great place to start, don’t feel like they’re your only option. Talk to the people around you, especially those who may be experiencing similar struggles. In addition, previous internship mentors can provide ample feedback on your performance — even if they didn’t hire you — and may be able to lead you to new, elusive opportunities.
Use the classroom to your advantage
Some young professionals don’t even have to job search — such as Alison Stace-Naughton. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2011, but just 18 months prior, she co-invented the Spiral-E Solutions Tissue Stabilizer in her Introduction to Engineering class.
On paper, it may seem like the device was just another contraption. This was not the case, however — the invention helped Stace-Naughton win $25,000 in prize money from the Greener Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest held by the Tuck School of Business. She then patented the device and prepared it for clinical use.
After graduation, she approached her parents and told them she would not be going through the traditional job search. Rather, she would continue working on the device and her startup, Spiral-E Solutions LLC.
While unconventional, Stace-Naughton essentially created an opportunity for herself — all stemming from a classroom assignment.
Lesson: Sometimes you don’t have to follow tradition — an awesome classroom discovery can lead to a great career. Go over your collegiate accomplishments, sit down with your professors and advisors and see where you can link your past collegiate wins with potential job opportunities.
Don’t wait for the jobs to come to you
The financial collapse of 2008 wasn’t the best news for Andrew Levine, a fresh MBA graduate from the University of Miami. Instead of twiddling his thumbs, he decided to use his business knowledge and create his own opportunity while the financial market sorted itself out. Levine created a plan for a niche social networking company, which he had created for an entrepreneurship class. He also sought the help of resources like LaunchPad to improve his business plan and perfect revenue strategies, investor presentations and trademark information.
His hard work paid off: Through angel funding and equity exchanges, Levine launched Audimated.com in 2010, a forum for the independent music community to discover and promote new music. His business plan also won the 2010 We Media Pitch It! challenge, which landed him $25,000 in startup funding.
Lesson: Don’t wait for a job to open up. Instead, see if there’s a gap in the market you can fill — whether or not it directly relates to your college major. Then, use the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired in school to really make an impact.
Nothing is a guarantee after graduation, not even a job. While the job search can be tough, don’t forget that, like these grads, you can make your own way while pursuing your passion in the process.
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