I hate to be the one to break it to you, but for a lot of people the ‘graduation blues’ are real.
My tutors never hid the fact that finding that graduate job was going to be hard. We were told to pull all our effort into our work, internship where possible and to network constantly. We were told we had a six month to a year window in which we had the chance of finding a job within fashion. Once that year was over we were competing with the newer graduates. That year window after graduation flies by, with the concept of your dream job seeming ever more unreachable.
You apply for any job, whether you will enjoy it or not, because you need to get by somehow. You work long hours because, let’s face it, they don’t usually pay that well. If you are lucky enough to be able to stay in London, where most creative or fashion jobs end up being, you will spend more time working your dead end job to pay the extortionate house rental prices. If, like me, you decide to run back off up to the north to save some money, good luck with affording the travel prices to go to interviews back in ‘the big city’.
You are most likely in immediate debt, especially if you did a creative degree in which you may have spent thousands on your final major project; or that overdraft you took out in second year to pay for your rent whilst you interned for free. Oh, and that student loan debt? The debt that began at – for some people – up to £45,000 now has thousands of interest piled on top. Let’s just accept we’ll never really pay that off.
Are you in the group of people who have fallen out of love with the career you went to university for? Yeah, me too. You are probably not going to get that entry level job, because most jobs don’t only ask for a degree in your chosen field but years of experience. Unpaid internships will be out of the question for a while, due to the fact you need to work to pay for your rent, and most employers can’t always give you those days off. You will likely begin to lose your ambition and motivation, and you will be in a rut.
So what do you do? How do you get that job?
First, take a breath. Appreciate and relish in the fact that you have graduated. Then get to work. Apply for all of the jobs, no matter how repetitive it seems; make each application different, take every one as a mini project. Most creative job interview will have a step-by-step process. Make your cover letter and CV relevant to each job description. If they give you a task to complete, don’t do a half-hearted attempt; you may even be able to put it in your portfolio even if you don’t get the job. Research the company so you can go to that interview with questions consistent with them. If you don’t get through to the second round of interviews, take it as an experience to learn from and ask for specific feedback.
Keep updating your portfolio. Give yourself personal projects to keep your creativity alive, or find projects within your community. If you are a graphic designer, contact local businesses and offer to make advertisement material for them, or bands and music venues and ask to make flyers. You are a photographer? Then go take photographs and upload them to Instagram. Use your phone until you can afford a more professional camera. Follow your favourite designers or creative groups on social media and interact. Whilst you are at that dead-end job you don’t enjoy, talk to everyone you can. Talk about your dreams, they might know someone who can help. You never know who you will bump into next.
If you have moved back in with your parents and you feel like you have taken a huge step back, use that as motivation. If you are in a place you don’t want to be, try not to dwell on it; instead go and find that next step to take you closer to your dream place. If you are sad, remember that hundreds, if not thousands of people understand. Surround yourself with people that will help your further your life and work your socks off. You won’t make something of yourselves by sitting around doing nothing. Sometimes you will have to work late nights, just try to take a break wherever you can.
Finally, remember it is normal to have bad days. If you have a bad moment, try not to let it ruin the rest of your day. If it does, then remember tomorrow will always be a fresh start. Let’s kick those graduation blues together.
Words by Hayley North.