When I finished University last June, I was told I’d be fine. I already had a job interview scheduled and secured for the following week and I’d worked my arse off for (the majority of) my degree. I’d taken part in plenty of extra-curricular activities and co-edited the University magazine alongside writing my dissertation. I’d pretty much always been employed since the age of 16 and had heaps of experience working with people.
YOU’LL BE FINE, they said.
“What a joke that was”, I told myself months later, still no closer to finding my dream job and instead making coffee for grumpy morning commuters and waiting around for families not able to decide whether “little Max will like hot chocolate”. (Tip: everyone does so shut up and buy it.)
Regardless of the industry, getting a job in your chosen field is rarely ever a piece of cake. What shocked me the most was how unprepared I was for it – I knew it wouldn’t be easy but this was just ridiculous. My University had dumped me, and just expected me to get on with it.
There was certainly no small print written on the bottom of my graduation certificate: “CAUTION: This degree may induce symptoms of hopelessness, distress and living on the dole for months on end.” This state of demoralisation came with no warning. Since getting my degree last September, my University has made only one attempt to contact me, for a satisfaction survey. That’s it.
And signing on at the job centre every fortnight sure can suck any sense of hope or encouragement left inside you. Every other Friday I was paying to travel to the nearest Job Centre on a 50 minute bus journey. I’d hand in the booklet neatly filled with intricate details of my job search, for it then to be ignored. I’d ask for tips and advice, to then be handed a flimsy leaflet on CV writing. I already had a perfectly adequate CV. My advisor barely ever made eye contact, and barely ever spoke. He never approved or ticked off the pages in my booklet. I was usually in there for no more than two minutes.
But it’s not even the Job Centre which can bring you down the most. It’s the conversations you have, the initial exchanges you experience meeting a person for the first time. The dreaded “so what do you do?” question is an almost perfect ice-breaker, but what do you say when you haven’t got an answer?
Your job is arguably a part of who you as a person, defining your day-to-day and what you do with the time you have. What do you do when you haven’t got that? Without a job title, what are you?
This emptiness can eat you up. You feel lost, confused and hopeless. You begin questioning the choices you’ve made, how and why it has come to this. What could I have done more of? What could I have done less of? You dwell on your past mistakes, and regrets begin to dominate your way of thinking.
Getting into this rut is easy, but dangerous. Take it from me – keep going. Keep fighting. Don’t give up. Unemployed life sucks – I KNOW. I’ve been there! But after 9 months, I’ve finally found a bit of light at the end of that dark, depressing tunnel.
They were right when they said I’d be fine – the journey there just took a little longer than I imagined. I suppose I never was any good at directions.
Image sources: @conspiracyimage