“You graduate on Saturday. You go to church on Sunday. Then it’s Monday, and you’d better have a plan.”
It was a piece of satirical advice given by a professor in one of our upper level classes. He meant it as a joke, and we took it as such. However, this was the vocalization of a very real fear I have faced for the past two years.
What if I don’t have a job lined up after graduation?
For two years, I’ve been terrified of such a possibility. When the caps and gowns were put away, the farewells said, the apartment packed up — what then? The thought of returning to my hometown without a plan for the future was horrifying.
If I’m being honest, it all stemmed from a deep-rooted fear of being embarrassed. If I moved back into my childhood room and returned to my parents’ home congregation, I was going to face the same question over and over. “Congratulations on graduating! What’s next?” I could already envision the pity in their eyes when I told them I was looking for a job. I was already cringing at the awkward pause that would follow.
For two years, I had fully bought into the lie that I was going to be a loser and a failure if I didn’t have a dream job in an exciting city lined up immediately following graduation.
And now, here we are, less than a month away from May 9, 2020. I’ve applied to dozens of jobs with no luck, and there aren’t nearly as many companies actively hiring entry-level communicators right now. In many ways, this is my worst nightmare.
Oddly, though, I feel more at peace with the thought than ever before.
I know that when I finally finish up these online classes and even when group gatherings recommence, people will be understanding that I don’t have a post-grad job yet. It’ll take a while for the job market to get back to normal, and that’s OK. I’ll be OK.
Will I continue to apply for any open jobs I can find? Yes, of course. And if I somehow line up a job in the next few years, I’ll be thrilled. However, I’m no longer controlled by the fear of embarrassment.
We’ve all been searching for silver linings through the craziness of this pandemic. Hopefully, you have found several — more free time, a chance to refocus on what’s important to you, a time to reconnect with family. If you’re a senior like me, I hope you can add one more silver lining to that list: It has never been more understandable to not have a job lined up after graduation. And for that, I am thankful.