Nobody Expects To Graduate During A Pandemic
Congratulations on graduating! If you’re like many recent graduates, you’ve probably spent the first part of the summer taking a much needed breather. It could be that with the summer beginning to wind down, the looming question of “what now?” is starting to keep you up at night. Anxiety, depression, apathy, these are just a few words that have been tossed around from students that have graduated during the last 18 month.
Of all of the things your professors, mentors, and lecturers tried to prepare you for during school, graduating during a pandemic probably wasn’t one of them. Absolutely nobody could have predicted COVID-19 when they were applying for college, university or trade schools. We are, as the saying goes, in “unprecedented times”. Graduation itself was probably virtual or very limited, the closure and the proper goodbyes from classmates and respected educators was missing. In a way you are also grieving a way of life, the ending of one chapter and the uncertain beginning of another.
THE JOB MARKET HAS CHANGED DRASTICALLY FOR RECENT GRADUATES
If you’ve recently graduated, chances are your career prospects have changed dramatically. The interview process has gone almost exclusively digital, there are few chances for networking (and let’s face it, not everyone excels with online events), and there are now health concerns you must face if your job requires you to work in a shared workspace environment. When seeing all that, it’s no wonder that so many recent graduates are reporting high rates of anxiety and depression.
You may be experiencing anxiety or depression due to the shifting career climate since graduating, that makes sense, and you are not alone. You are also not out of options. There are ways that you can manage your feelings while still accepting that these are unpredictable, challenging times.
HOW TO STAY GROUNDED DURING UNPREDICTABLE TIMES
It’s time to take a deep breath and take a good look at your whole situation, realistically and optimistically. Start with the basics, your living situation. Are you living in a place where you feel safe, both emotionally and physically? Is it economically viable? Is there easy access to the internet? Where you rest your head impacts what’s going on between your ears, so really take stock of if your home is helping, or hindering your mood and job prospects.
If things need changing, see what you can do. Maybe it’s an easy fix like getting noise cancelling headphones if you live near a loud street and it’s interfering with video job interviews. Or perhaps it’s speaking to your parents about moving back home for a while to lower the stress of paying for high rent while trying to transition to a better job.
BE REALISTIC AND OPTIMISTIC WITH YOUR JOB PROSPECTS
If your home life is a good one, then it might be time to take a look at your career options. Depending on your area of study it may be quite obvious if you will be able to find a job easily, or it may be a struggle. If you are an actor, or someone in the expressive arts like dance, this pandemic has not been easy on your industry, and you may want to look into alternative revenue streams for now. However if you’ve recently graduated from business school, the potential for getting hired might be a little more opaque.
NETWORK, RESEARCH, AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
Another unlikely spot to find out how industries are going is Reddit, if you’ve been to school and have a degree in a specific field, chances are there’s a subreddit dedicated to that profession. Just join up, search out the subreddit and post your question, before long you’ll most likely have a dozen or so people happy to share their experiences of finding jobs in your area of study. Just make sure to take everything said with a grain of salt, and to keep the negative and positive comments in perspective.
TAKE BREAKS FROM JOB & INTERNSHIP SEARCHES
Pace yourself. It’s better to apply to 3 jobs a week that you’ve taken the time to research and write thoughtful cover letters to, then to apply to 25 jobs a week, where you cannot remember the name of even one company. Rest your eyes, go for walks, talk to friends, read, and where Covid-19 parameters allow, go to museums and cultural events in your city.
If you are feeling the financial pinch, and work isn’t available in what you’ve trained for, take a look at other jobs that are in your area. There’s nothing wrong with getting something temporary to help make ends meet.
FIND SUPPORT WITH OTHER RECENT ALUMNI, FRIENDS & FAMILY
You are not alone in graduating during these strange days, and many other graduates are also experiencing anxiety and depression. Look up official school alumni networks, and unofficial ones on different social networks. Connect with your peers, you are all experiencing this together. Share tips and tricks, vent your frustrations if you need to.
Reach out to friends, call your favorite relatives, set up your support system for success. One thing about being in school is it’s easy to lose touch with people. Now that you’ve graduated, you have more time to reconnect with friends and family. The pandemic has really clarified how important relationships are for many people, so now is the perfect time to reestablish or strengthen the positive connections in your life
KNOW WHEN TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP WHEN YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION
It’s natural to have feelings of loss, sadness, and worry around life after graduation. In this current job climate it’s also understandable if you’re feeling frustrated and resentful about the situation you find yourself in. Feelings come and go, but if you find yourself getting stuck in a depressed rut, or paralyzed by anxiety, it might be time to seek out professional help. Below are some signs to be aware of.
SIGNS OF DEPRESSION
- Feeling sad more days than not for over 2 weeks in a row.
- Finding it difficult to do tasks that you normally don’t have problems doing.
- Loss or increase of appetite.
- Changes in sleep.
- Feeling irritable and quick to anger.
- Things that used to give you pleasure no longer do.
- You have stopped caring for your personal hygiene.
- Friends or family are expressing concern for your mental health.
- A desire to isolate and avoid people.
SIGNS OF ANXIETY
- Avoiding people, places or situations that could lead to feeling anxious, to the point where it is limiting to your life.
- Experiencing panic attacks (racing heart, sweating, shaking, shallow breathing or hyperventilating).
- Feeling overwhelmed by tasks that normally are not a big deal.
- Lack of concentration.
- Feeling nervous for no obvious reason.
- Not being able to stop worrying even after thinking a situation through.
Graduating during a pandemic is a lot for any person to deal with, and if you are worried about your depression or anxiety, please reach out to us here at Heidi Sturgeon & Associates, or your own healthcare provider for support. If you need immediate assistance, here is a link to resources where you can talk to someone right away. You deserve to feel joy and peace in your life, and getting support for your mental health is the best way to get you back to feeling like yourself again.
Reach out to friends, call your favorite relatives, set up your support system for success. One thing about being in school is it’s easy to lose touch with people. Now that you’ve graduated, you have more time to reconnect with friends and family. The pandemic has really clarified how important relationships are for many people, so now is the perfect time to reestablish or strengthen the positive connections in your life.