College Graduate: You Don't Need Your Dream Job Right Away
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Student Life

To Almost College Graduates, You Don't Need to Find Your Dream Job, You Just Need a Job

Close the job application and finish your homework: you have time.

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To Almost College Graduates, You Don't Need to Find Your Dream Job, You Just Need a Job
Tayler Klinkbeil

College students battle countless expectations over however many years it takes to finally qualify for the Intent to Graduate form. Unfortunately for us, the chaos doesn't stop once you've rented a cap and gown for too much money and have taken graduation pics in the lowest-budget way possible. Now that your demographic is no longer "college student" but now "college graduate," the expectations for what you're supposed to do with your life only heighten.

Coming from me, with May 4, 2019, shining bright red on my calendar, I share your trepidations when family, friends, or even total strangers ask, "So what's next?" You want to stomp your feet and say "I don't know" and go make yourself a bowl of mac and cheese. Instead, you open Indeed, or Monster or (hopefully not) Craigslist. I'm here to say: look no further.

Although facing college graduation with no job lined up is as scary as Courtney Cox's bangs in "Scream 3," that doesn't mean you should abandon your homework and try to find the one job in the location you want, with the experience you have and salary you long for.

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I've applied for positions I was underqualified for, overqualified for or not even going to be paid for. What the past couple of months of rejection emails have taught me is that you don't need to be the perfect candidate for the perfect job the day after you graduate college.

Maybe you channeled your inner Monica Geller in college and you have your life together. Maybe you interned in your desired career field, or had relevant leadership roles, or made connections in the professional side of your major. If so, good for you. Your dream job is probably a lot closer down the road for you than mine is for me.

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Finishing a four-year degree in two years sounds like the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card, but I'm here to say I wish I had done the full stint in college. My resume is cluttered with the volunteer hours, flimsy leadership roles, and childhood accolades from my high school days (which is what gave me all the momentum to finish college early). In my two years at the collegiate level, I've had one job, completed one major, and read two books cover to cover.

My own lack of accomplishments aside, it took quite a lot of external convincing to change the mind of the ambitious perfectionist within me. As a writing major, when I started college I was convinced I'd have a book published by the time I graduated. I haven't even published a short story in the on-campus literary journal. I thought I'd land an internship, maybe with Disney or Universal Creative. I'm a Food and Beverage Cast Member, and while I love my role and working for Disney, it's not the position I envisioned myself in while (almost) having a Bachelor's Degree.

I needed to hear from a current MFA student that she would not have appreciated graduate school if she hadn't taken a break in between her degrees. I needed to hear that my mom had dozens of jobs after she graduated from college before she got the entry-level version of her dream job. I needed to hear that I won't have a drink at my own graduation dinner because I am only 20-years old.

A couple of weeks ago, I was losing sleep and fighting a potential ulcer thinking about graduating with nothing on the other side of college. I know I need something to keep me focused. Sure, my career in writing gives me the unique opportunity to work a day job and write on the side. Everyone knows the cousin of starving artists: aspiring writers. But whether your major is in the arts, STEM, humanities, or even a technical certification, you may have the obstacle of inexperience standing between you and where you want to be in your early- to mid-twenties.

I give this advice with full knowledge that I need to take it myself, and that I'm learning how to navigate this journey of independence and self-realization too, but I can definitely say that your dream job may not show up on your doorstep right after you graduate. And that's okay.

It may be a year, or five years, or even ten years down the road. What's important to realize is that you just need a job. It can be some part-time job that you're not going to miss, in retail or food or some sort of customer service. (I think everyone can agree that if anything can make you a more patient, communicative person, it's working in customer service). Or maybe it's an internship. Or an assistant position.

Maybe it's something not even related to your career path, but it could be a valuable experience for you to have as a future professional (and as a human being). I'm applying to Teach for America, which is a national corps dedicated to broadening education opportunity in K-12 schools across the country. I'm not going to school to be a teacher, nor did I imagine it would be a job I'd pursue after college. What I realized is that it presents a unique opportunity for me to learn from a different perspective.

The job that you land straight out of college may not be the perfect resume-builder, but it will be an important part of your past and your character. When you're 30 or 40 and you have that dream job you've always wanted, you'll also have the memories of the other experiences you had on the way there. As the notorious young adult icon, Ferris Bueller, once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Don't miss the best part of your twenties freaking out about a job. If it's meant to be, and you're working towards it, it'll come.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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