The job market is tough for college grads. There’s no doubt about it..It’s daunting. You might be wondering, “Am I ever going to get a job that isn’t folding shirts at Forever 21?” or “Will I ever do anything besides drink my boxed wine while watching Netflix?”
Trust me, I know. I’m there right now. But the truth is, wallowing in self-pity doesn’t accomplish anything. If it did, many of us would probably have trophies.
That’s why I’ve compiled (and am sharing with you) a list of things you can do in the interim while you are searching for a full-time position post graduation.
1) If you need immediate cash, try to look for part-time jobs that are remotely in your field of interest. Were you an exercise science major? Apply for an hourly position at a nutrition or sporting goods store. English major? Look at bookstores. You are much more likely to make valuable contacts that are pertinent to your field even if you are making less than $10 an hour.
2) Volunteer for a non-profit organization. Again, this is a great way to find opportunities that relate to your career interests. Health major? You can volunteer to work in a hospital. Communications majors? Many non-profits need a bit of help with their newsletter or press materials. Volunteer Match is a great place to start, and lets you narrow opportunities ranging from causes you care about to personal skills and interests.
3) Have you ever thought to yourself, “XXX class in college would have been interesting. I wish I would have taken it.” Take it now! The Open Education Database provides over 10,000 free courses you can take for no credit. Added bonus: zero pressure and no final. Although you're welcome to pretend like you do to justify ordering a ton of takeout for yourself. Online career schools, like Penn Foster, allow you to take courses with written feedback, textbooks, and exams all included for less than the cost of one semester of textbooks in college.
4) Exercise. It gets you moving and energized. And don’t forget the wise words of Elle Words. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” There are gyms nationwide that cost less than $20 a month -- like Planet Fitness. It might not have all the bells and whistles, but they do serve free pizza once a month (Yes, I know.) If you’re looking to get fit on a lower budget, there are plenty of low-costs phone apps that offer video tutorials and fitness tracking.
5) Meetup is a great website to find fun and inexpensive things to do and expand your network. Joining a Meetup Group is generally free or low-cost. Each group regularly hosts affordable events and activities. The thousands of groups nationwide range from “Miami Young Professionals” to “Science Geek Dating.” Really!
6) Took five years of Spanish but only remember “hola” and “cerveza”? Now is the perfect time to brush up on your language skills. Flüenz tends to be the top recommended software that offers several languages, but it’s nowhere near cheap. There are plenty of free websites for every language (Study Spanish has been one I frequent) that offer grammar drills, quizzes, and tutorials.
7) Almost all of us put that we know “MS Office” on our resumes, but do we really know how to use Excel? Did we just make Powerpoints for class with stupid spinning animations and the screeching car tire audio effect? Trust me, there are way more features to be discovered in Office that are useful for almost any job. Microsoft’s website offers free tutorials for all of their software.
Oh yeah. And keep applying for jobs and networking your butt off. But I didn’t include that on the official list because I know you’re tired of hearing it. But don't forget to do it. You’re welcome.