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Having Post Grad Pandemic Anxiety?

By Samantha Jungheim

[5 Minute Read]

Realizing that I would be graduating during a global pandemic was gut wrenching. The first time I graduated from college, earning a BFA in 2015, I faced so many fears and uncertainties. Now in 2020, I’ll be graduating with a masters degree in December. A few months ago, I began to worry about getting through these difficult times. Normal post grad anxiety became magnified and my heart goes out to Spring 2020 college graduates. Despite 2015 and 2020 being very different fiscal years, I believe some of the post grad lessons I learned can help current graduates. Part of getting rid of post grad nerves is coming up with a game plan. We all come from different backgrounds, yet we can all make the best choice in the moment, create a toolbox for the future, and market our skills to employers.  

Making the Best Possible Choice 

When I was a recent college graduate with a degree in Painting, I struggled to find a job in the arts that could pay for the cost of living in San Francisco. Through a college connection, I became an art teacher for a non-profit, but it was barely paying the bills. I started seeking other positions, and was contacted by a recruiter with an open contracted Customer Service Representative position for Square, Inc. At the time, I was torn about pursuing a job in tech when I was passionate about art. “How could I afford to pursue my dreams?” I wondered.

In the moment, I made what appeared to be the best decision. It felt like none of the options were going to help pursue my dreams and I needed to pay the bills. Little did I know at the time that working in tech gave me invaluable skills I’d continue to use for years. After taking the job, I found aspects of it that aligned with my passion for helping others, examining language, and creating content. I also didn’t fully realize until working at Square that some of the skills I learned at art school lent a hand to working with technology. Even though I only stayed in tech for a year, I don’t regret making the best financial choice for that period of my life because it ultimately improved my skillset for working in the area I was passionate about, and you can do the same. 

Creating a Toolbox 

As future employees, we need to demonstrate what is in our metaphorical toolbox. Lessons you learned at USC will help you, but as recent graduates now you can look for other avenues to gain additional skills for your toolbox. When I took the contracted position for Square, I looked at it as a post grad learning opportunity. Instead of paying for a university, I was taking on a new role of getting paid to learn in an entry level position. Not only did I improve the skills I had from my undergrad experience, but I also gained new technical skills and experience adapting to a new work environment. While the job market isn’t what we expected for 2020, I recommend taking this time to strategize. Ask yourself, what skills am I lacking? Can this position make me a better candidate for my dream job? Even with limited options you can always add to your toolbox.

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