“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney
You’re a recent college graduate. You have bills to pay, loans and other debt piling up, food to put on the table, and a life outside of school that you would like to start leading. With all of these considerations, it can be tempting to jump on the first job that comes your way after graduation. There are good reasons to go this way; if nothing else, you need to eat! But there are also some good reasons to stop and think about it first.
The job market is tough for recent graduates, there’s no doubt about that. There are fewer positions available than there have been in recent years, even for those people who are highly educated. In light of such uncertain economic times, it may seem like a good idea to take a placeholder job to hold you over until something better comes along.
But this mindset may not be the best one to have. For one thing, you spend a large amount of your day at your place of employment. One third of the hours in a day is not a meager time commitment, and it can be difficult to give that time over to a job that you don’t like or don’t really want. When you can see that what you are currently doing is far away from what you want to be doing, it is easy to end up feeling frustrated, helpless, and overly stressed. All of these factors increase your vulnerability to depression.
The detrimental effects of having a less than fulfilling job can leak into other unrelated areas of your life as well. An unfulfilling job is draining; by the time you leave work, you no longer have the energy to participate in activities you like that may have served to keep you positive and motivated.
Furthermore, many professional positions require field-relevant experience. Even many Masters Programs have this requirement. It is easy to believe that you will simply find a better job later, but how are you going to get the experience you need if you settle for whatever job comes along? You will suddenly find yourself with no helpful job experience, unable to compete with those who have similar education but did not settle for whatever came along first. And if you picked up any relevant skills in school (such as with particular programs), it is difficult to maintain your knowledge and proficiency if you are not using them on a regular basis.
Employers may even take your application less seriously if you do not have relevant experience. You do not look dedicated to working within the field if all of your work history is unrelated. Many sites dedicated to helping with the job search even recommend that you not include unrelated job experience. If that description fits all of the jobs you have had, what are you supposed to include? While it is true that volunteer experience can also be helpful, there are some companies that only consider working as a professional experience. (Though you shouldn’t discount volunteering out of hand; include it if you have little other job experience).
You may be thinking, “It’s all right, I’m only going to do this for a little while; only until I find something else.” It is easier than you might think to get sucked into a job though, even if it’s not your ideal situation. Depression and rejection drain motivation. It becomes easier to stay than to put in the effort to find something better. Another aspect to consider is if the pay is good and the benefits are good, you simply settle, too scared to rock the boat and make the change. Then, one day, you give up entirely and twenty years later you are asking yourself how you have been a claims processor all your life when you really wanted to be a graphic designer.
I am not saying that it is a good idea to turn your nose up at a job because it isn’t the perfect position. I am not saying that you should remain unemployed and buried in debt forever because you can’t find the “right” job. While not everyone believes that this is the best route, there are a few points that you should consider when you begin your job search because careful thought and an awareness of the risks can minimize your chances of remaining stuck in a dead end position, while increasing the likelihood that you will achieve your career dreams.
Author Byline: Shaswata Ghosh has done his graduation in Science and now works for PrepGenie, a firm that provides GAMSAT sample questions and GAMSAT preparation to the students.
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Good luck in your search.