Post graduation depression is always touched on, but never really talked about. For many of us, we were just glad that the weight of exams, GPA, papers and group projects were lifted off our shoulders. However, what college didn’t prepare us for was the endless question marks surrounding our futures after it.
Back in 2012, I started out at an HBCU, but I didn’t feel like it suited me for the long run. A year later, I transferred to a public university in the heart of Baltimore city. I felt like I found a college that really suited my needs as a student.
Deciding to go to college was a defining point in my life. I was an indifferent, introverted teenager who didn’t really care for schoolwork. However, I knew that going to college would shape my future as well as who I was. I knew for a fact that some things about myself needed to change for the better and that I couldn’t get into the psychology field without college. From that point on, I was prepared to go to college and become successful and even more intelligent.
I went through hell and high water to make it through college. I survived confusing statistics, equations, professors from hell, annoying group projects and bewildering exams. Despite everything, I managed to graduate with honors. I felt so euphoric. I finally made it. I was so happy and proud. Over time, my giddiness wore off. There weren’t tons of jobs lined up for me or my peers. One of my friends that I graduated with was lucky enough to snag a job in our field of psychology, but it wasn’t paying much. As my job search continued, I noticed that a bachelor’s degree wasn’t enough. My experience at my internship wasn’t enough. It seemed as though things were forcibly pushing me in the direction of poverty or grad school, which was something I hadn’t fully wrapped my mind around.
During my senior year of college, I spent my time juggling school full time, a part time job and an internship with a nonprofit organization. After completing the internship, I didn’t receive a permanent job offer, which was pretty disappointing. Eventually, I realized there wasn’t any real chance of me finding a job with decent pay in the field relevant to what I did as an intern or my degree. My mind started spinning. I didn’t know what was next for me. I was 23, had spent 4/5 years of my life in college and I didn’t have a vast experience with much of anything because of my devotion to my studies. I felt like college chewed me up all those semesters and then spit me out on graduation day.
Once the celebration is over and the graduation money stops coming. Shit gets real.
Eventually, I found a bullshit job that paid more than my part time job and gave me full time hours. I was trying to be grateful, but it’s really hard to be when you know you’re worth more and capable of doing so much more with your life. My emotions were pretty much all over the place most of the time. College taught me how to be a high functioning emotional wreck (LOL) so I’m almost always productive despite how I actually feel. One day I’m feeling frustrated due to the lack of job opportunities, bills and debt. The next day, I’m feeling more hopeful and optimistic about things. I felt like I really lacked a sense of direction. I was like “wow, I’m really an adult now…” There’s no concept or textbook chapter that can tell you how to navigate through life when you have little to no options especially when the job market is trash.
I had applied to at least 2,000 jobs and slowly received denial letters over the course of some months. Some jobs I never heard back from though. I was starting to feel inadequate. I’m not sure if that’s a shared feeling amongst my peers, but I know for sure that I felt that plenty of times. It’s hard knowing that I have a degree, but I still can’t secure a real career. It made me really think that maybe I’m just not an appealing candidate and I just don’t possess the skills that employers are looking for. It gets even harder when people around you are elevating and finding opportunities to move forward post grad meanwhile you’re feeling stagnant.
Eventually, you start to feel like a failure especially and that’s a feeling that’s hard to shake. As young adults in 2018 it’s just not realistic for us to have our entire lives completely together, but it doesn’t stop us from setting the bar so high and feeling as though we need to aim for that even though it is entirely unrealistic. We constantly feel like we need to fulfill our need of having our shit together and we compare ourselves to people on social media who seem to be doing better than ourselves, which is a horrible habit. I’m working on ditching it right now. Comparison is pointless and counterproductive.
The stress was taking a toll on me. I caught myself constantly thinking about my future and possible ways to get ahead or make money. I didn’t know what to do because every month I was getting emails about my loan payments being late/due. Looking back I don’t recall having access or knowing of a ton of resources to prepare me for life after college. There wasn’t a real transition. My alma mater had all sorts of general pamphlets and brochures on mental health, but nothing on how to tackle post grad depression. There’s a significant gap in education when it comes to transitioning from college. I feel like most colleges don’t provide students with resources and ways to solidify a career. As students, we can meet deadlines, take exams and take good lecture notes, but at the end of the day we still need to be provided with resources because in the real world graduates lose the structure they were used to having in college.
I believe that it is important for many of us to be passionate about what we study in school and aim for our dream careers… However, it is important to consider the relevancy of skills sets and such that will make us marketable and appealing to employers. Otherwise, we’ll end up having a ton of knowledge on a particular field, but nowhere to apply it. I think it’s important to consider your career path options.
In my case, I decided to go to graduate school. Initially, I thought I wanted to go towards the direction of social work because it was relevant to what I did as a case management intern, but then I realized I would have to do two years of school and pass an exam in order to be licensed to practice. I didn’t know if that was something I really felt like committing to career-wise. The social work field is very demanding and they don’t always pay great. Ultimately, I decided to go in the direction of criminal justice, which will pay nicely regardless of the direction I go in. I don’t want to say I made this decision because I had no other choice, but the decision to go back to school gave me a sense of purpose, a career change that will supplement my undergraduate degree and will defer my loans (LOL).
I’m here to provide you with tools and resources to get you through this tough time so check out the tips and links below.
How Can You Get Through This?
- Remember that you’re not going through this alone. There are other people who are going through the same thing or were at some point.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. It may be hard to do when you feel like your whole feed is full of people who are seemingly living their best lives or was able to secure the bag right after college. You have your own path and things will eventually work out the way it’s supposed to for you.
- Accept the fact that sometimes things won’t always go according to plan or the way you thought it would pan out to be. Having a plan is just a general idea of the way you hope for things to go, but sometimes life has another plan for you.
- Talk to peers. It is important to express how you feel and things you’re going through especially with people who can relate and possibly offer some advice as well as resources.
- Talk to a professional or go to group therapy session which can be even more helpful throughout the process because they can offer help to get you through this emotionally and mentally trying time.
- Consider tools/resources that may help you get out of your predicament. Look for ways to get you moving forward. Never stop looking.
- Most importantly, know that this won’t last forever.
Job Resources & Tips:
- governmentjobs.com > This site is basically the plug for government, city and state jobs anywhere in the U.S. You can search by a particular field or state and city. Only thing about those jobs is that you have to give it some time because it is such a slow process.
- Resume.com > is really great for building up and formatting your resume
- Check out your university’s alumni association and see if they can provide you with some resources and/or assistance such as a career center.
- Linkedin > Linkedin will be your bff during this time. Depending on your field this might just be the perfect place for you do your job hunting. Also, I like this because you can connect with colleagues, supervisors and professors. You can build your resume on there as well. You can list your skills, job experience, and even post your work samples/projects. It’s like your virtual resume.
- Assess what your skills are and where they can be useful so that you won’t limit yourself by looking for job opportunities in the same places.
- Also, look for jobs in places that you’re a consumer of. For example, consider many of the apps and social media site that you utilize like 24/7 consider their job opportunities as well how you can be an asset to their company.
- Consider relocating as well. Sometimes there may not be a plethora of job opportunities where you currently live. Check out nearby cities that have a reasonable commute.
- Another thing is the benefits that jobs/companies offer, the perks and etc. Make sure that you’re getting your worth because in this economy you can’t settle for less.