Bubble, burst: When you didn’t get the dream job

The ensuing months after the euphoria of college graduation can be quite sobering, especially for graduates on the lookout for a job that matches with their interests. When we’re in school, we’re led to believe that there are competitive industries out there that could use our newfound expertise, no matter what discipline we studied.

It doesn’t matter if we majored in chemical engineering, Chinese history, or English literature; the fact that we would be viable employees for future employers was implicit in our education.

But then we graduated—myself included—and it became painfully clear that this was not the case. Most employers don’t care if potential hires had studied Jane Austen exhaustively in undergraduate school, nor do they care if you can discern Rococo architecture from that of the Baroque period. Instead, employers asked you about the esoteric skills necessary to be a team player and a valued employee.

You had envisioned interviewing at museums in faraway places with your art history degree, but instead you found yourself interviewing for modest administrative work at a generic office building. To your surprise, you got the job, even though it certainly wasn’t your dream job.

What now?

Take the job, you need the money

If you’re offered a job out of college from a reputable company that pays well, do yourself a favor and take it. Even if it’s not closely related to your field of interest, you need a job if only to start paying the huge mound of student loans that you probably acquired in college. It might not be the dream job that you fantasized about in the weeks after you accepted your diploma, but it’ll pay the bills and keep you busy, and that’s more than many college grads still on the job hunt can claim.

If anything, future employers will be impressed that you took the initiative to get hired in an industry unrelated to your field just to make ends meet; it shows motivation and determination.

Chalk it up to a new life experience

Let’s say that your first day left you less than enthused about your new place in the country’s workforce. You studied geology and you’re working the phones at an office supplies manufacturer, and it makes you question many of your life choices. Don’t let your feelings of isolation deter you from keeping the job. Sure, it might not have the glamor or freedom of your life in college, but this unsavory job will teach you some invaluable life lessons.

You’ll learn how to work with people with vastly different philosophies on life; you’ll pick up communication skills and bits of common sense that you never would have acquired otherwise.

In other words, make the most of the time you spend at this job. You never know where it might lead you.

Keep an eye out

You don’t have to stay at your non-dream job forever, but you won’t go anywhere associated with your career interests unless you take the time to look. That means keeping an eye out for potential companies and firms looking for new talent in whatever field it is that you want to enter. You have the unique advantage of having a job while you’re looking for another, better job, which is more than most college grads can say.

You have a certain position of power while you’re employed because you’re not being pressed financially to find that dream job. You can afford to take your time as you look around for the next best thing. And when you find it, pounce on it. Then you’ll have real world work experience to accompany your already valuable college credentials.

Melissa Miller’s articles aim to help you understand the challenges and benefits involved in earning an online associates degree, and show you a way through the often confusing process. She welcomes questions and suggestions at melissamiller831@gmail.com.

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