As someone who graduated college right before the 2008 economic crash, I get the anxiety, fear, and panic that comes with job hunting in the midst of a collapse. In 2008, I took on unpaid internships for 6 months while working small jobs to pay the bills before I finally turned my internship into a paid job. Even though 2008 was a mess, the pandemic that we’re facing now will have more economic repercussions and uncertainty than we’ve ever had to face in our lifetime. While I don’t have all the answers for you, here are some tips to help you navigate post-grad life and set yourself up for future career success:
Be proactive and network. Right now. Whether your job offer has been rescinded or you simply don’t have any prospects, networking today will help you both in the short-term and for when the economy bounces back in the long-term. While it’s very possible that the people you connect with may not have something for you right this second, building lasting relationships will be key for when things get better. If you’re not sure how to start, check out my post on Authentic Networking 101.
Be flexible. You may need to move home and/or you might need to take on a job that doesn’t exactly scream “dream job.” Or there might not be a job for you to take on at all. This is stressful, I get it, but be flexible and resourceful right now. The ones who show these traits will have the most career success now and in the future. I saw this in 2008. There will be a surplus of talent fighting for the same jobs and it will be the ones who show flexibility, resourcefulness, hustle, and drive that will get and keep their jobs. And, that brings me to my next point:
Build skills so you’re ready for a comeback. Unless you specialized in engineering or something similar or have a resume full of badass internships, most new grads enter the workforce with limited skills. Even if you can’t get a job right away, use the time to build your skillset and resume. You could offer to do a free project for someone you network with, take an online class that expands your skills, or start that creative project you’ve been dreaming about. While these tactics may not pay the bills, being proactive and expanding your skills set will help you build a solid foundation for your career.
Work on your own projects. Maybe you get on TikTok, start that podcast you’ve been wanting to do, or you create an online business. It may not generate money right away but it eventually could. And, in the meantime, you’re building skills and work experience for your resume. Engage on social media & digital communities to share what you’re working on! That engagement is also a great networking tactic.
We’re in unprecedented times and everything is a big unknown right now. It’s scary, I know. And, it’s ok to want to sit on the couch and sulk for a bit. But, once you’re done doing that, be proactive. Following these tips will help you build a foundation for when the economy bounces back.