I remember during my first year of University, just after high school, I wished I had received more guidance and advice about what to expect from University and how to make the most of the chance you get to choose a degree that you would enjoy and ultimately gain skills and knowledge that would at the end of your degree, make you a valuable asset in the job market.
Years later, a few months after my graduation I find myself with this same wish. In addition, I now also wish that tertiary institutions would educate students about the difficult task of finding a job after school, about high skills careers, about the importance of work experience and most importantly what makes one ‘employable’ in the demanding job market.
During our parents’ time at school, they were encouraged to study to be professionals such as lawyers, doctors and teachers because such job titles were prestigious and a reflection that you were highly educated. Today, however, it seems that these professions are the best and safest options to choose in University as they are more likely to ensure that a graduate is employable at the end of their university career.
Career guidance at university did very little for me. Guidance counsellors neglected to tell me how to prepare for the challenges of finding a job post-university, and that the limbo is inevitable for most graduates.
What Is The Post University Limbo?
This is the stagnant period of one’s life after they have graduated where they cannot find employment.
It is during this phase that graduates apply for all types of work, in vain. You reach a point where the type of work, location or salary you apply for doesn’t matter anymore. What you are really applying for is something to do with yourself, ultimately you are applying for a way out of being dependant on others.
If you are lucky enough to have a family business, you can keep yourself busy there and if you are even luckier, you will earn a small salary. Moreso, some people are fortunate enough to live in a developed country where they can register for unemployment benefits from the government, resolving one finance concern. However, not everyone has a family business to keep them occupied and a fair amount of graduates in this limbo, come from third world countries where government schemes for the unemployed are not existent.
Everyone Is A Critic…
It would have been nice to get a heads up about the reality that after spending 4 years in University and investing thousands of dollars into my future, there was also a very high chance that I would equally be spending another 4 years, unemployed, with my career prospects on hold.
‘Start a business,’ some have suggested. If only it were that easy. There is a growing stigma attached to millennials who complain about not being able to find work, as we are labelled lazy or unresourceful because we do not have the incentive to start a business instead.
There are two types of people in the employment world, entrepreneurs and employees. I, like many others, fall into the latter category. We are all different. We are not all born with the strategic mindset, skills and avidity to start our own businesses. Some people have set their goals to earn a living that good old-fashioned way, as a professional or employee.
Challenges & Effects Of The Post University Limbo.
Securing a job in the 21st century has become increasingly difficult for millennials. Gone are the days when you would start working fresh out of university. In some cases, if you were undecided about the type of work you want to establish a career in, you could simply apply for a job at your local Starbucks or Papa John’s Pizza, all the while earning a salary and keeping busy. But even fast food jobs are hard to come by these days. If you live in a third world country, both options are a fantasy.
Countless job applications and countless rejections later and all you have are reasons as to why you have not been hired. The top 3 typically include:
- You are overqualified.
- Despite your impressive CV, work experience and skills, you do not have the legal right to work as a foreign graduate for the position you have applied for, due to immigration law restrictions.
- You do not have enough work experience.
The third reason always baffles me. Where would I have got work experience from when I am applying for an entry-level, graduate job!? I’ve never understood this reasoning and if anything, I believe it is a polite way of hiding the fact that the company you applied to would simply prefer someone else.
Time in this limbo is arguably one of the most emotionally draining times for anyone looking to enter the job market. You will feel ashamed and embarrassed about being in a situation that is not your fault and is out of your control.
You will watch many of the friends you grew up with, update their LinkedIn Profile about promotions or how they have been working at their company for 5+ years. You will feel like a failure. You may even start to isolate yourself to avoid people asking you the dreaded question: ‘What do you do?’
You feel hopeless and wonder if all the time you spent studying, believing that education would be the key to your dream job, was worth it.
It will pass. Stop Overthinking, Strategies, Persevere &Overcome!
When all is said and done, we should all remember that you are unemployed and not useless!
- Accept your reality. It is ok to occasionally feel low and demotivated about your situation. Accept your feelings and allow yourself that moment to feel. We are only human. But shake it off afterwards! Unemployment rates differ. Unemployment is a normal condition of any economy. Some will be fortunate enough to leave this limbo within a few months of finishing university, some up to a year later. However, one thing is for sure, the only way to leave the limbo is to keep searching for that one person who will give you a chance.
- Network and share your story with others. Do not solely rely on online applications during your job hunt. Sometimes word of mouth or talking to someone who has connections will make that difference you need.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help; whether this means having a friend look at your CV or proofreading your cover letter, compare notes with those that are employed. Follow their steps.
- Find a new hobby or start a project. In between applying for jobs, do not leave time for silence in your life because it’s during this time that you will overthink and wallow in self-pity.
- Keep your mind and body active. Take the spare time you have to start working on your physical and mental wellness. Start practising yoga or join a gym! Work on your health and fitness. Re-discover your passions and interests.
- Pen your thoughts down. Start an online blog and share your experiences with others.