“The struggle is real.”
This seems to be the modern way of articulating struggle these days, at least I think it still is. The word “struggle” is a far too familiar word to those of us who are on the job hunt or considering important career decisions. There are tons of options out there for every aspect of this process, it can definitely be overwhelming. If it is in your personality to internalize things like I do, then your brain is a never-ending loop of questions and outcomes of different possibilities.
Once you graduate from college, the doors to the world are wide open to you; you just have to decide which one you want. No big deal right? While your major and degree kind of dictate what types of jobs you apply to, at some point you may find yourself struggling to get a foot in the door of your desired field. The first struggle you may come across is deciding whether or not to broaden your job search to outside of your “dream job.” This should be a given. Do it. Your dream job is out there, but sometimes you have to work a little harder and take some detours to get to it. By expanding your search, you’re opening even more doors and more opportunities to further your knowledge and experience.
Now, I’m not saying to totally give up on your field of choice, but rather look at it like an umbrella. For example, I have my degree in School Counseling, but that is under the education umbrella. Education is a pretty broad category, and while I’m not qualified for everything, I am qualified for some things. When I graduated, I was licensed for grades 5-12, but after not having a lot of luck, I got my elementary school license to try to increase my options. After I still wasn’t landing any jobs, I started applying to different Higher Ed positions. My thought was that an academic or student advisor is essentially a guidance counselor for college in some respects, so I thought my odds might be pretty good in at least getting interviews. I applied to other positions as well, like paraprofessional, program coordinator, education coordinator for organizations like the YMCA, mentor coordinator, etc. While I was under and overqualified for some of these jobs, they were all still related to my degree, and my goal was still in sight.
I would also recommend volunteering, if you have the time. Using my own education example, volunteering for after-school programs, or even subbing in a desirable district could be really helpful. By being present at the school, administration and teachers will see your face and become familiar with you; when a job pops up there, you might even be able to use them as references, and will most definitely be able to add that experience to your resume!
The job search struggle is real, that much is clear, but deciding to change jobs or careers is tough too. If you land a job that was not your original goal, where you go from there can turn into an internal struggle:
How long do I stay at this job?
Does this position have any opportunity for advancement?
How is this related to the job I want?
I’ve only been here for 4 months, but I see other jobs I might want, should I apply?
And the ultimate question: What if I like this job better than the original one I was looking for?
The last question was personally a struggle for me. I think on some level, everyone is afraid to try something new sometimes, especially when you don’t know what the outcome will be. Uncertainty can be unnerving, but it can also be exciting! I invite you to see options that might have an air of uncertainty about them, as opportunities to do something different. This something different could mean new beginnings and could still help you get to your original goal, if that is what you desire.
Follow your arrow, whichever door it points to.