Check out the full Engineering SoundBytes podcast featuring Claire Riordan’s takeaways on graduating without a job lined up and successfully pivoting her focus to find a career after a bit of searching.
It’s no secret that the pressure can be huge these days to be on top of the career search process. From parents and relatives to social pressure, there are so many factors that can lead to someone feeling down because they don’t have a job lined up once they graduate. As I approached my final semester as an engineering student, I had no internship experience and was burned-out on career fairs and networking events. Now, almost 6 months later, I’ve come to the other side with a better understanding of what that initial career search looks like and what matters.
Everyone’s process looks different
The most important lesson I learned in this process is that what makes sense for my life is not the same as what makes sense for everyone else’s. Taking time to understand what you want from a career, how you want to pursue it and how that may affect your life is a highly personal process. It may feel intimidating at first to see people around you getting careers started, but that doesn’t mean you’re behind. We have the rest of our lives to learn and unlearn what we want. Getting a job now, or a year from now, won’t change that.
Love what you do vs. do what you love
It’s important to remember that making a passion of yours into a career is not always the right move. Turning passion or art into a job can make it just that: a job. Adding deadlines, clients and restrictions to the things you enjoy in your free time can add unneeded stress and anxiety to your hobbies and rob you of the joy that they create.
What actually matters when searching
A hard truth is that more effort does not equal better results. When it comes to searching for a job, there are definitely high and low impact decisions you can make. I’m sure everyone has had the experience of applying to countless job postings and getting ghosted. Maximize the effort that you do put in by actually talking to people in the fields you want to pursue. Even if you can just get one conversation started, you are creating opportunities for yourself.
You don’t know everything, and that’s good
Post-grad can be intimidating to the person who doesn’t know what they want to do (like me). There is so much pressure to figure out what you want to do as a career right away so you don’t waste any time. The truth is: choosing a path and realizing it’s wrong for you isn’t failure, it’s progress. Very few people truly know what they want, but you can learn so much more from just trying something than worrying about trying the perfect thing. You are not tied to a company, career or industry forever. Your life is your own, so take solace in the fact that you are always allowed to make a new decision.