A Fresh College Grad — Without a Job

a college grad holding a "Hire Me" sign
This summer I came home — a fresh college graduate — without a job.

I had applied and applied and heard nothing back from the majority of companies. Out of 15 to 20 applications, I had only two interviews lined up for when I came home. My embarrassment at coming home without a job overshadowed my excitement of having graduated. After all, what had I gone to college for anyway? So I could get a job. But apparently most of the people looking at my résumé weren’t impressed by my bachelor’s degree.

As I looked around for more jobs to apply for and waited to hear back from the places I had interviewed, two emotions grew in me: shame and fear.

I was ashamed for three reasons. First, of course, to have come home without a job. Especially because so many of my friends at school had plans for after graduation, whether a job, an internship or further schooling. But not me.

Second, I was also ashamed that I needed help from other people to find a job. As ridiculous as this was, I felt embarrassed that people were giving me job suggestions and that I was using connections within organizations to get my name out there. I felt like I should be able to get a job all on my own.

Third, I felt ashamed that I was actually enjoying my time at home, not working. While I felt the ever-present burden of needing a job, it was really nice to have time to exercise, to play with my nephews and nieces, to redecorate my room. But I felt guilty at enjoying this time because I felt that it meant I wasn’t really serious about finding a job.

Besides shame, I also felt some fear as I looked and waited. I feared that I wouldn’t find the right job. I feared committing to a job.  I feared having to settle for a lousy job. Every time I submitted an application, I second-guessed if I were right for that job or if it was the direction I wanted to go or if I was setting my sites too high and needed to shoot lower.

I eventually did land something, but during this waiting period I learned a lot about myself — and, as always, the underlying sins that were causing these emotions of shame and fear. So, if I could go back and give myself some advice, here’s what I would say:

1. Get over your pride. Pride was at the root of almost all my shame and fear. Pride was blinding me to the fact that many people go through periods of time without jobs, and that many people use connections to find jobs — it’s called networking. Pride was making me feel embarrassed about what other people thought of me coming home without a job.

Now, I know from experience that you and I can’t just decide to stop being prideful. So my second piece of advice is especially important:

2. Remember to pray. For some reason, it was easy for me to forget to pray about finding a job. And then when I did remember, sometimes all I could think to say was, Dear Lord, please help me find a job. There’s nothing wrong with this prayer, and the Lord does know what’s in our hearts. But we can also use this waiting period as a time for growth in prayer — examining what sins we may have, acknowledging our fears, and intentionally placing our trust in the Lord, rather than on ourselves or other people. Saying all these things out loud can be more effective for our own growth than simply passing over them with general prayers.

3. Apply, apply, apply. My dad gave me this advice, telling me that although it can be so discouraging to keep redoing your résumé and to keep answering those questions when it feels like no one is even reading them, applying to multiple places keeps your hopes from being set on just one place. And be creative! Ask other people — they may give you ideas you would never have thought of.

4. It’s OK to enjoy your time of respite. If God has put you in a situation where you can enjoy it, go ahead and enjoy it, without feeling guilty. As many people had told me, you’ll be working 40 hours a week for the rest of your life! It is possible to enjoy this time while still being serious about finding a job.

5. Wait on the Lord. Don’t allow yourself to go certain places in your mind: fear, embarrassment, or shame. Be faithful and obedient — which, in this case, means being diligent to search for a job — while trusting that He will bring you the “right” job.

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