University Career Center

person walking up a hill

If you, like me, are planning to graduate this semester, you likely have one very important thing on your mind—I need to find a job! While this might be an exciting realization, it can also be one that stirs up some anxiety. After almost four years in college, formal education is drawing to a close and it’s time to prepare to enter the job market. But here’s where it gets tricky. You have your resume ready to go and you might have dabbled a bit in searching, but mostly when push comes to shove you find yourself feeling stuck. Let’s face it, up to this point you’ve had much of your life planned for you; you never needed to decide if you were going to go to 4th grade after 3rd grade -- it just happened. The weeks are escaping you and still all you can do is open your computer to a search engine and stare at the blank page. Occasionally you manage to type in a few half-hearted phrases and hit enter, but even when you manage to get this far you quickly close the browser as the thought of actually sifting through the search results overwhelms you. Meanwhile, a lot of your friends and classmates are lining up interviews and even landing jobs. And so you begin to think: why can’t I just do it?

My Story

To be honest, I have been struggling with all of these same issues. Up to this point I had the perfect excuse for why I did not have to think about job search yet—my husband was waiting to hear from graduate programs. It did not make sense to me to search for jobs when I did not know where I was going to be. However, having recently gotten some idea of where my husband will be going to graduate school, I have lost my excuse. Imagine a child who loses grip of her balloon string and is now staring, shocked, into the sky after it. I have rather abruptly been forced to embrace reality and there are moments when I try to shove it away from myself as quickly as I can. Sometimes I just cannot seem to reach inside myself to find the energy, or maybe even the courage, to begin. After all, taking a step into the unplanned-unknown can be scary. But as I just indicated by sharing my own story, perhaps you and I are in the same boat. So maybe the first step to getting motivated to start searching is to realize you are not alone. And besides you and I, there are people all across campus in this boat with us. This is no canoe; this is a cruise liner. And do you know what that means? It means that we have that many more resources to tap when the sea of uncertainty begins to rock the boat. We can ask friends, professors, advisors (and of course our friendly neighborhood Career Center) for help, encouragement, and guidance.

Setting Goals

We all know that encouragement and advice is nothing without some concrete action. So let’s talk about inspiring ourselves. Of course you need to ask yourself what motivates you individually, but one thing that will likely help you shed your job search apathy or qualms is to set goals for yourself. By goals I mean actions you can concretely measure week-to-week. Maybe you want to pencil a half hour of job search into your planner every other day. Maybe you can set a number of positions you want to apply for each week. I had a classmate who shared with me that at the height of her job search she made the goal to apply for ten jobs per week. For those of us who are just starting, ten seems like a lot, so modify to fit your needs. Your number can be low to start off with, but you should try to work up over time. Especially with graduation approaching as quickly as it seems to be (Does anyone have any idea where January went?!).

Sticking With It

Once you have set your goal and have started, it is crucial to stick with it. Of course you can allow some wiggle room now and then, but deviating too far from your goals too often will only add to worry and stress. To borrow an old cliché, if it first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Persevering in your job search means lots of searching, lots of tweaking of resume and cover letter, lots of networking, and lots of submitted applications. You can't get a job that you don't apply for! How about we decide together to start searching and keep searching. And when we think we cannot search any more, let’s search just one more time. And then one more time after that. Hopefully in time, with a little perseverance we can join our friends and classmates in basking in the glory of getting a job offer. All of our work will pay off and then do you know what we’ll be thinking? Oh yeah! That was so worth it!

Need some places to get started with your job search? Try these: Career Center Connector, Job Links by Industry,,,, and Vault. Want some guidance on how to start your search? Make an appointment! Photo credit: rightee / CC BY 2.0