Congratulations! Graduating from college is a huge accomplishment. But it comes with new challenges. It’s tough to adjust to changes in your friend group, not having a class schedule to structure your day, or moving back home temporarily. And on top of that, you have to look for a job.
This is a big transition period in your life. Read on for our best tips to use this time well, and advice from grads who have been in your shoes (and all found jobs!)
You’re not the only one having a tough time
“The job search is always tough. It’s a draining process, but it’s something everyone has to go through.” Caroline, UC Davis ‘19, Biological Sciences major
The job search can be a slog. It’s hard, but it’s normal. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re the only one without a job. And don’t scroll LinkedIn: remember, none of your classmates will post, “I’m still looking for a job, but I’m anxious and burnt out.”
Instead, call a friend. Tell them honestly if you’re struggling with burnout or stress. Sometimes, just naming the feeling will help you manage it.
“Many of my friends offered moral support and gave me tips in the recruiting process that helped me a lot. What was instrumental was having friends who helped me build cool software projects that allowed me to gain experience when I had none at my disposal. It was also helpful to have friends who could help me craft my resume by reading and reviewing it to see how it looks and sounds.” Vedavit, UC Berkeley ’20, data science major
Set attainable goals
“I would advise not to pressure yourself to look for a job like it is your full time job. Take 3-5 hours a day to job search and don’t do it every day or you’ll find yourself looking at the same listings you did the day before and you’ll get burnt out. Remind yourself that unemployment is temporary, so try to enjoy the free time because once you have a job that feeling of having zero work responsibilities goes away.” Jessica, UC Davis ’21, Design major
We also recommend focusing on the quality of your applications, not the quantity. Are you tailoring your resume and cover letter, and applying to jobs that are a good fit? Employers can tell when you panic-apply. Take the time to send high-quality applications, even if you end up sending fewer of them.
Take breaks and be kind to yourself
“Take care of yourself during the search. You can get wrapped up in the rejection but you have to let it run off your back and not let it get to you. Still go out with friends, socialize, have fun. It cannot consume every minute of your day or it will drain you.” Caroline, UC Davis ‘19, Biological Sciences major
In this pause between school and work, you’re allowed to take some time for yourself. Do something that brings you joy: hike, watch a comedy special, go to the pool. If you have a hobby, make time for it. Doing a fun activity, and one that you’re good at, will give your brain a boost of serotonin.
Try different approaches
- If you’re not getting responses to applications, have someone review your resume alongside jobs you’re applying to.
- If you’re getting interviews but no offers, practice your interviewing skills.
- Make sure your Handshake profile is up to date with all your skills.
- Take 20% of your time to network and do info interviews. At the end of those calls, ask who else you should speak to.
- Get in touch with your school’s alumni office. Ask them for introductions to alumni in the field you’re interested in.
”Do not give up on the recruiting process, instead continue to evaluate yourself and see how you can improve. If you’re lacking experience, go find a project you’re passionate about and work on it to build experience and learn to market that to employers. Make sure to ask everyone in your circle for help in the process whether it’s needing referrals, reviewing your resume, or just general tips. If you’re getting rejected after interviews, try to get feedback from the recruiter or interviewer so you know how you can improve. Don’t worry about the rejections, you only need one offer at the end of the day.” Vedavit, UC Berkeley ‘20, Data Science major
Rethink the idea of the “perfect” job
Normalize the idea of a “starter job”. Your first job just has to pay the bills and give you the chance to apply your skills and learn new ones. It’s the first step in a long career–one that can take many twists and turns that you can’t anticipate yet!
Selena, a UC Berkeley alum who majored in geophysics, ended up working as a data analyst at a fintech company. She says, “In college, I’d hear stories about people changing their entire career after college—it doesn’t matter what their major is, people end up in completely different fields. Hearing that helped me open up my mind about applying to all sorts of roles!”
Don’t take rejection personally
“I found it very unnerving how many companies ghost applicants. That was a disappointing challenge that no one ever talks about, either. Out of tons of applications I only ever received 1 declining response and 1 accepting response, the rest were never addressed leaving my mind to wonder. But it was that 1 yes that led to 3 interviews which gave me a job that I love.” Jessica, UC Davis ‘21, Design major
In school, studying hard for a test could guarantee a great grade. In job searching, no matter how qualified you are, rejection is common. Remind yourself that a rejection or non-response is not a reflection of your worth. It’s just part of the process.
Take a deep breath
“Just never give up. You will definitely have failures and rejections, but take it as a learning experience. I took my rejections as a learning experience and just continued my search. I was able to really get better in coding interviews after doing a good amount of them.” Myoung-Jun, UC Berkeley ‘20, Computer Science major
Keep making steady progress. You will get there.