Nobody warns you about life after college. When I was graduating, I never heard the words “Quarter Life Crisis.” I just assumed everyone got jobs, lived in adorable apartments, and would go out to happy hours and lunches all the time.
But that’s not really how it worked out for me.
After I graduated, I was fortunate enough to land a paid internship for the summer at a nonprofit doing social media. I had dabbled in social media, mostly for personal use or as part of a campaign for class, but I never maintained an organization’s social media channels. I didn’t even realize that was a real job! I really loved my experience there, but unfortunately, they were not looking for a full-time hire.
During my time there, I was contacted by a recruiter for a federal contractor, saying she was interested in bringing me on board to set up and run their social media for their recruiting efforts. I thought, “Great! I get to set up a strategy and run my own accounts!” After many interviews and weeks of waiting, I finally started my first real-world job in October.
However, the job turned out to be a lot different than what I expected and in February, I was laid off because of the slow economy.
Now what was I supposed to do? I felt like I was right where I was when I graduated: no job, very little money, and completely lost. I had a brief period of panic and depression, but after a couple of hours, a thought struck me: I’m better off. It’s like the moment after a break-up when you’re upset about the end of the relationship but then you realize all the problems you had. I wasn’t going to let this experience define me and decided to turn this into an opportunity to find a job I would really love.
Instead of applying to everything and anything that was remotely related to marketing and communications, I focused on social media. I created a Tumblr to post my personal thoughts, and then another blog to talk about my passion for movies. I started going to DC Social Media Club and other social media-related networking events and conferences. I talked to other people in social media, got some great leads, and learned what it takes to be a social media professional.
For a month, I wasn’t employed, but I felt like I was. Applying to jobs and following up after events is a full time job! I was lucky because I had such a great support system to help me through it and keep me motivated. I reached out to my old internships and asked them if they needed an extra hand. Luckily, two responded and right now, I’m back at the nonprofit, this time as a social media consultant (I’m moving on up!). My contract is up in a couple weeks, so I’m looking to find my next challenge.
Whenever I meet recent graduates, I always offer them the wisdom of my experience:
It’s OK if you don’t get a job right away.
It’s OK if you have to move home for a little while (anyone who makes fun of you for it is just jealous because they have to pay rent and bills while you don’t).
It’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do, because guess what, NOBODY DOES! Everyone I talk to has no idea what they want to do with their life.
Everyone right now is struggling with something. If it’s not the job, it’s the relationship. If it’s not the relationship, it’s student loans. Just remember you’re not the only one going through this. We all are.
Alyssa is a social media enthusiast and lover of movies, who reflects on the rollercoaster that was her post-grad life. Follow her on Twitter: @sweetalyssa
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.