Tag Archives: post grad problems

We Are The In-Betweeners

We grew up in an age where the American dream meant you followed a specified list and ticked the items off one-by-one, in the appropriate order. We were told that we would walk tall off our college campuses with our freshly inked degrees. We would accept the job offer that would inevitably come our way. We’d get married and have kids and then, after thirty years at the same company, we’d retire. The picket fence we would build to contain our succinct lives would chip and falter over time but it would be physical proof that we “made it.”

We don’t live in that world anymore. The colleges became more selective. What was once a choice became whatever we could get. Those degrees became overwrought, expensive pieces of paper indicating less about knowledge and more about pedigree. The job offers for postgrads that once gushed from the proverbial firehose became infrequent droplets from a shower head that is now all but dry. The divorce rate has skyrocketed and accepting that you’ll have a “first wife” or a “second husband” has devolved from being the idea of a cynic to being that of a realist.
This world for us “in-betweeners,” us “pseudo-adults,” is alien and terrifying. The 23-year-olds of yesteryear were self-sufficient, level-headed, and guided. Those 23-year-olds would scoff at us. Our better-educated, more driven, and dream-laden selves would probably look like bumbling infants to them. We are standing on the precipice of a world our predecessors could have never imagined. We straddle this strange border between knowing enough to start our lives but not enough to establish who we are. We have the trust of our elders but not the faith.
In the year since I’ve graduated, I’ve lost more than I ever thought I would. I’ve lost jobs and friends and lovers and confidence and, above all, myself. I no longer recognize myself when I look in the mirror every morning. I go through the motions of my day. I laugh and I cry and I ponder and I yell and I wait. I wait until my life feels like it’s my own and it’s one that I’m proud to identify with. I wait for the day when I know what it is that I want to identify with.

Congrats Grads, Here’s How to Make Your First Year Out Suck Less

I just finished my first full year out of college.

I graduated May 23, 2013, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was beyond excited to get out of school and “start my life.” I naively thought that with a diploma in hand, I was ready for it all. Like a typical millennial cliché, I was very wrong.

Unlike a lot of my peers, I had a signed offer for a job over a month before I’d don my cap and gown. It was a job in my chosen field (publishing), with a decent salary, and conveniently right near Penn Station, so commuting from home on Long Island would be a breeze (or, at least, as much of a breeze as an hour and a half trip could be). So, I quit my beloved part-time job at Apple, took a deep breath and jumped headfirst into the workforce a mere week after graduation.

Not surprisingly, it was too good to be true and I was laid off within just a few months of starting. My boss cited “budget cuts” and I took the whole thing terribly. My shiny new life on the cusp of beginning suddenly became cracked, dull, and utterly terrifying. Since then, this past year has been a whirlwind and it’s one that has been filled with more things unexpected than expected. So, in light of all you new graduates accepting your diplomas and singing “SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER!” at the top of your lungs, I give you a few nuggets of wisdom from my whole year in the wild. Grain of salt sold separately.

Save money. This either seems obvious or ridiculous to you, but it’s actually something I wish someone had ingrained harder into my brain before graduating. In college, “broke” meant you couldn’t go out one night or your meal of choice for the next week was a pack of hotdogs. In “real life,” being broke can mean defaulting on student loan payments, barely paying the minimum on credit cards, and having zero social life. Nest eggs are the difference between sinking or swimming. Download the Mint app — it’ll make saving a whole lot easier (I’m newly obsessed). Seriously, if you find yourself out of a job, a nest egg will keep your credit from being destroyed and food on the table. Also, it’ll save you the tail-between-your-legs chat with your parents.

Make like Chumbawamba: If you get knocked down, get up again. I failed miserably at this but you shouldn’t. I’ll give it to you straight: I was hugely depressed after losing my job. I was convinced that I was a failure, a feeling that was only exacerbated by the amount of interviews I went on while looking for a new job. I interviewed — yes, interviewed — with 19 different companies over a period of four months. My printer died from printing out so many copies of my resume. I was pounding pavement, chatting up HR employees all over the city and praying to whatever god that would listen that I’d find something. I wish that when I told myself, “It’s all going to work out,” that I genuinely believed it would. I cried night after night because I was convinced I was going to have to forfeit my dream of being an editor so I could pay the bills. In just one year out of college, I know I’ve gotten thicker skin. I gave myself a reality check: “DUDE, YOU’RE 22. CALM DOWN.” Do yourself the favor and don’t be afraid to fail. It’s definitely going to happen and it’s definitely going to get better.

Try harder in your friendships. The diaspora of friends as they leave the collegiate bubble is no joke. For your whole life, your friends have been easily accessible. They’ve been in the next room, across the hall, around the block. And then suddenly, after graduation, your best friends have detached themselves from your hip and moved to Cleveland (or, in my case, Boston. And Virginia. And Florida). It becomes very easy to let days turn into weeks without talking or checking in. Friends you once knew everything about become these people that you just sort of know. Seeing them and actually learning about their day-to-day activities takes serious effort. Put the work in for the friends that matter to you — set out time every week to talk to them. Have “Skype Session Sundays” and you’ll never be out of the loop. There’s nothing that feels more like a punch in the gut than finding out from Facebook that your best friend is engaged.

Work hard. This is a “mom” piece of advice but it’s definitely valid. Get to work on time, don’t drink every single night of the week (or do so in moderation…), stay positive, and fight for what you want. No one’s going to be a bigger advocate for you than yourself. If you want something, don’t be afraid to ask for it. And if you don’t get it? Well, perseverance goes a looooooong way.

Welcome to post-grad life, my friends, and here’s to a good first year out. Maybe yours won’t end over a pint of ice cream and “What’s My Age Again?” on replay but I can’t make any promises.

5 Reasons Why Unemployment Doesn’t Suck

Let me preface this by saying the following: I was laid off from my full-time job in September. It was a sobering experience to say the least and it’s definitely been the number one reason why I haven’t wanted to update my blog. I’ve been depressed, anxious, and blatantly negative about pretty much everything. I figured no one would want to read about some classic post-grad misery.

Tobias Funke

I still don’t have full-time employment (not for lack of trying…) but my spirits have definitely lifted since that fateful day of release. With that, I bring you this list – here are 5 things that don’t make being jobless totally suck.

Continue reading