Graduation is the end of one journey and the beginning of another. However, if you’re one of the many graduates who find themselves in a post-college “mid-life” crisis, fear not. We asked Lindsey Pollak, millennial workplace expert and author of “Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders,” for three tips on how to avoid sinking into depression after school.
Don’t get down on yourself
First, think about what you’ve just achieved. Graduation is a major accomplishment — one that should be celebrated. Second, remember that it is normal and understandable to compare your post-grad situation to your peers’, which is why it’s important to seek out colleagues who can not only offer encouragement, but also empathy.
“Find friends in a similar situations and connect with them regularly,” says Pollak. Together you can complain but also “encourage each other and serve as accountability partners and sounding boards.”
Use downtime wisely
Use the extra downtime as an opportunity to network and join local chapters of professional associations. Not only will you be working on advancing your career, but you will also be having fun doing it. Professional organizations typically host networking mixers, where like-minded people can connect and share their resources.
Pollak suggests reaching out to your alma mater’s career center and alumni groups.
“The career center can be a key contact because it spends time every single day building relationships with local, national and international employers in fields across the board,” she says. “Set up a one-on-one appointment to review your résumé, take a career assessment test and practice a mock interview.”
Alumni, on the other hand, have experience about the local market, she says. “They are often more than happy to help a young alum of their alma mater.”
Stay active – unemployment is not an excuse to be lazy
It can be easy to fall in a slump when you’re unemployed. Fight the urge to sloth your day away by taking small steps toward big goals.
“Break up a big task into small action items,” she says. “Convince yourself to send a single networking email, revise one bullet point on your resume, or apply to one job on LinkedIn each day. Often once you do one small task, you will keep the momentum going and do a lot more.”
Think about what direction you want your life to go in. Ask yourself, what type of company you would like to work for? Or, if furthering your education is an option, and if so, what type of program?
“It can be motivating to determine what benefits make your dream job your dream job,” Pollak says.
“If you’re currently employed, figure out exactly what you would like to change about your job and what benefits you would like your next job to offer. If you’re looking for your first job, look beyond your paycheck: Consider benefits as part of your total compensation.”
Unemployment hits everyone hard; however, for recent grads, it can be particularly unsettling because you’re in a time of your life where you’re forging your path as an adult. The feelings of inadequacy and lack of confidence are ones that should be used to motivate instead of discourage.