My final semester of university was a marathon to the finish line – I just wanted to get everything done so I could begin my career-focused life (and a two month backpacking trip through Europe, but that’s another story). I was very aware of the chatter surrounding the job market, that it’s almost impossible to find work after university. But I convinced myself it wouldn’t actually be that hard.
I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong; when people say finding a job is tough, they aren’t lying. I got back from my post-uni travels, and as of September 1st 2017, my life was going a little something like this: endlessly scrolling through job ads and applying for at least 10 per day. Doing whatever I could to make my resume the perfect blend of professional, creative, relatable, and unique. Trying to find entry-level roles that weren’t expecting me to have 3+ years of experience. Receiving a constant flow of rejection in my inbox.
On top of all that was the [loving, caring] people in my life who were constantly asking how it was all going and having to inform them that I was still unemployed, undesirable, unwanted.
It was a whirlwind of rejection, a sucker-punch to my self-confidence. I was questioning every single thing that happened, trying to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, that it was all part of some grand plan; but I wanted to know what the plan was STAT.
One night (1 month and 30 days into my job search, to be exact) I decided to try something different: I attempted to pick myself up from this state of self-pity and I wrote a gratitude list. It was one thing I knew would at least cheer me up for a moment or two. So, I wrote down a list of good things that had happened over this period, which included: spending more time with my friends, practicing my writing skills (because I was writing about 20 cover letters per day), and actually somewhat figuring out what I want to do with my life.
The next day was my graduation ceremony (quick note, for timeline purposes: my grad was 5 months after I had actually finished my degree). It turned out to be the best day I had in a long time. I was surrounded and supported by my friends and family. I felt happy and accomplished. For a few hours I was actually able to think about things other than my deteriorating self-confidence.
When I got home I had a missed call from an agency that I had interviewed with, and been rejected by, a month prior. They were ringing to ask if I’d like to come up to the Gold Coast to work on a 6-week project leading up to Christmas. I was in shock.
My thought process went a little something like this: I can’t travel 12 hours up the coast for only 6 weeks of guaranteed work. Maybe I can travel 12 hours up the coast for only 6 weeks of guaranteed work. I have to travel 12 hours up the coast for only 6 weeks of guaranteed work.
Nobody wins by playing it safe. Take the damn risk, Tess.
A week later my car was packed up and I began travelling 12 hours up the coast for only 6 weeks of guaranteed work.
Today, one month after the phone call, I have a permanent role at this agency. And I love everything about it.
Looking back, it’s crazy that it was only two months all in all. It really wasn’t that long, but spending everyday feeling worthless really took its toll.
I am here to tell you that, yes; the stress of post-university unemployment is horrible. I would say worse than any stress I experienced throughout the 5 years of my degree. It is exhausting, draining, self-deprecating. If you are currently in this stage, or approaching it, I am so sorry.
But it will get better. It will come to an end. You will find work. I absolutely hated when people said that to me. Not because I didn’t believe them, but because I knew it would happen too, I just wanted to know when.
Life happens at a different pace for everyone. The timing will make sense in the end. You’ll get there.