You did it! They called your name, you successfully walked across the stage (without tripping on your gown) to receive your diploma as a college graduate. As you wait for the cap you just threw into the air to land, you wonder… okay, now what?
Moving from college life to the real world is a big transition, and it’s possible that not everything is going to work out as you planned.
Here are the top struggles you might face as a recent college graduate, and some advice for how to overcome them:
1. The Job Hunt
They say looking for a job is itself a full-time job, but actually… it can be worse. You can spend 8 hours a day applying for hundreds of jobs per week and still only receive an AI-written email telling you that while a company you applied to a month ago that you forgot about “appreciates” your application, but “unfortunately” they’ve “decided to move forward with another candidate.”
If money is tight, there’s nothing wrong with taking a job that doesn’t require a degree while you work towards your chosen career. This way you can gain some problem-solving skills and put some cash in your pocket.
When you’re applying for jobs, it may be tempting to blast out as many resumes and cover letters as possible, but it’s not the most efficient way to land a new position. Instead, it can be helpful to find around four jobs a day to apply to and customize your resume and cover letter to each one. Be sure to include keywords from the job description, as well.
2. You Need Experience to Get Experience
This challenge is the classic catch-22 every recent grad runs into. Many of the entry-level positions posted online may require experience… experience that you are hoping to gain through an entry-level position. It can be a difficult pill to swallow that the college degree you worked years to attain isn’t enough to get an interview.
So how does one get experience? One way is to apply for an internship or an internship program. If accepted, this will give you the chance to see what the day-to-day of a chosen field is like. Not only will it show employers that you have real, tangible, on-the-job experience, but it will also help you dip your toes into the field or type or role to see if it’s the right kind of work for you. It’s okay to pivot to another line of work whenever you want.
And if you further want to set yourself apart from the pack, try an international internship experience, which will show employers you’re committed to your field and are willing to travel across the world to seek out opportunities.
3. Career FOMO
Ever since we were kids, we were told not to compare our lives with someone else’s. This advice isn’t always easy to take for a recent college graduate because the job market is inherently a competition, and social media can make things so much harder to resist this way of thinking. Aspirational content on LinkedIn, TikTok or Instagram may make it seem like everyone is succeeding except for you, but, most likely, the people you feel on social media feel just as lost and confused as you do.
So, the short answer? Log off. If seeing someone’s perceived success is throwing you off your game, you have the power to limit your social media usage and focus on your own career. Your definition of success doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be the same as everyone else’s.
4. Living Back Home with the Parents
For many, college is their first taste of true independence. And to have that sweet independence ripped away from you? Brutal.
Due to lack of finances or other factors, you may return to your old childhood bedroom after your college graduation for a bit, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of! According to the 2017 census, a third of young people aged 18-34 lived under their parents’ roof.
Moving back in can feel awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. Make sure you keep open communication with your parents or family members about where you are in life and respect that it is no longer “your” house — it’s theirs. You’re likely going to be saving money while you’re there, so this is a great time to get used to setting a budget or a savings goal. Before you know it, you’ll be back out on your own!
5. Managing Expectations
Just like with life, your career path isn’t going to be in a straight line. There will be ups and downs that will shape you as a person and your career.
Even when you do land your first job out of college after graduation, it might not be something you’re immediately passionate about, and the pay may be a bit lower than you expected.
Gaining as much experience as you can while you’re still young is key. Now is the time to experience new things, travel to other countries, and discover what you want your life to be.
Our advice: One of the best ways to find yourself as a recent college graduate is to intern internationally!
AIFS Abroad offers incredible internship opportunities all over the world, which will not only give you real-life experience in your field, but also send you on the adventure of a lifetime. Add a little international flair to your resume with AIFS Abroad’s international internship programs during your undergraduate career or after graduation!