Navigating adulthood is hard, but this fresh grad's survival kit can make the journey bearable
It’s grad season again. Our timelines are filled with posts documenting graduation rites celebrated at home, where semi-formal grad gear is defined as a fancy top paired with comfortable sweats. (Hey, no judgment here.) Nonetheless, the Class of 2021 has been ushered into the newest, longest but the best part of their lives: adulthood.
You see, navigating this part is never easy. But adding the pandemic to the mix puts these fresh grads in a trickier situation. When we interviewed a few members of the Class of 2020 on how they’re trying to cope with the situation, they painted us a picture of how they tried to get by. As I talked to my friends from the Class of 2021, it’s safe to say that the situation hasn’t changed much in a year.
But fear not, fresh grad. Here are some things you can start building to survive life after college. Call it a fresh grad's survival kit, if you may. These are some things I wish I knew while I was preparing for my journey, too.
Whether you’re taking a break or going job hunting immediately, you should start building all the basic requirements you need to turn in an application. Pace yourself by taking it day by day. This includes taking time to craft your CV or resume, writing a cover letter, building your portfolio and applying for the necessary IDs.
It’s highly encouraged that you keep your resume or CV under one page as companies might not pay attention to what’s on the following pages. Ditch the scales or graphs to measure your skills. Instead, use verbs when describing your experience from your degree and extracurriculars. If you can, add numbers to measure your achievements. How many attendees were there in that webinar your organized? What did you place in that research conference you participated in? These help recruitment officers gauge what you’ve done. We further dissect what stays and what goes on your resume in this article.
Cover letters, on the other hand, are a way for a company to gauge your optimism for the job. It should ideally be 400 words and four paragraphs at maximum. Use these to briefly introduce yourself, the skills you have and what you can do to help the company. It should be straightforward and concise, so there’s no need to wax poetry about your motivations or your hobbies. Tailor fit your cover letters for each job you’re applying for so they know you’re serious.
A (somewhat) open network
Graduation signals a new beginning or an opportunity to burn bridges, deactivate all socials and start a new life. It’s something I was guilty of, too, but I’m here to tell you don’t jump the gun. Stay connected with batchmates, acquaintances and orgmates. Hit up your old internships, make some new friends and check your socials regularly. There might people who know of job openings that you can apply to. Everyone’s on an equal playing ground; let them turn to you so you can do the same.
Keeping your network open also comes in handy when you’ve exhausted company websites and job listing platforms such as Pasajob, Kalibrr, LinkedIn and JobStreet. The best opportunities of your life might be hidden in plain sight—you just need to look harder. Facebook groups for jobs in the creative industry, development sector and more are free for you to scroll through. Just exercise caution when checking out job listings; see if what they’re asking for is reasonable and if you’ll be paid accordingly.
A solid support system
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One of the biggest factors that played into me surviving the limbo between graduation and finding a job was my solid support system. Your college barkadas can stand as yours. Create a support system with varying stages in life: same-aged friends, fellow fresh grads, college students and older friends. They’ll help you understand how life works. You can cry together, share job listings, master’s application woes, interview tips and more. Learn from each other and apply it to real life.
The fact that you’re not alone trying to navigate the trickiness of adulthood is enough to help you keep going. A support system helps you keep rolling with the punches. You’ll be surprised that in a matter of months, you guys will be in better places. Lastly, it’s these people who help set up the last two things you need to stay afloat.
Perseverance and determination
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Let me bring a *slightly* sensitive topic to the table: rejection. I used to think that the end of the world came in the form of not making it into my dream school. Who knew that it was the start of another long battle with not getting what I hoped for left and right. This isn’t to scare you; it’s to manage your expectations. Job rejections are normal. Even the best honor student with straight As and a weighty CV will experience this in their lives.
The key to dealing with rejection is to just keep going, even at your own pace. It’s okay to grieve over the opportunities missed, wallow in sadness to get it out of your system. After that, you try again. Everyone’s pace in life varies. Some people may take only a few weeks to land a job, while some take a year. You'll be able to find the best opportunity that meets your needs and lets you grow after the long, uphill battle.
I can keep going on the life hacks I’ve learned, tried and done myself to beef up this fresh grad's survival kit. But at the end of it all, experience will and still be the most superior teacher. Living through each pain and triumph will teach you more lessons and will stick to you far longer than any of my words can. So buckle up because the real world is going to be a ride. Good luck.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver