Finding Employment Post Grad 2020
Am I Wasting My Education if I Can’t Find a Job Related to My Field of Study?
Having just completed my undergrad at the age of forty-five, I am able to relate to the question that plagues university students:
What if I can’t find a job in my field of study after grad?
This question usually resolves itself in the first year out of school, as companies hunt for fresh faces that they can mold and shape to fit their mission statement, but 2020 has been far from typical for workforce hopefuls.
COVID-19 hit right at the end of midterms. Suddenly students and professors alike were scrambling to finish the semester via Zoom. It took me seven years to complete my degree. Envisioning walking across the stage often got me through the stress. But then we couldn’t, we were told to go home. Classmates bonded together by the commonality of late night study sessions and stress didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.
2020 was possibly the worst year to be graduating.
Now here we are, nine months later, and my province is going into its second lock down. Mandatory masks in public spaces; keep your cohort numbers low; no more than five inside of homes.
The world has turned upside down. Life may never be the same again. It feels like every day there is something new that we all have to adjust to.
This rapid adjusting has meant that plans have had to be placed on hold as well. This has been tough after working for four (or more) grueling years toward a specific outcome. Most graduates have had to take menial jobs to make ends meet creating a new worry:
I can’t get a job in my field of study, am I wasting my education if I take whatever I can get?
Let me talk to you as a fellow graduate, and well, as a mom of university age children in the same boat:
You can never waste your education!
1. Every experience during your education career has added up.
Every late night, every cramming session, every assignment completed, every single frustration that you didn’t surrender to, has added up. To what? To the person you are today. You are no longer the younger version of yourself that arrived on registration day, whether scared out of your wits or super arrogant. You persevered, refused to give up, and finished one of the most grueling experiences that you may ever have in your entire lifetime. You are a brand new person who can handle more than you realize!
2. The process of education is in itself invaluable.
You may not be working in the field that you have become an expert in; however, there is extraordinary value in how the process of education has prepared you for the workforce. Through your determination to finish the degree, you have proven that you are tenacious, versatile, and dedicated. Employers recognize that the hard work that goes into getting a degree develops valuable character traits that they want for their company.
3. You know how to get through pressure.
There are seasons when we have to take a step back, assess the situation, and evaluate what we can and can’t control. We have to be okay with either outcome. As frustrating as it is, the entire world is currently in such a season. There is one thing that you can control though—how you chose to respond. Will you see this as another challenge to conquer or will you succumb to negative emotions?
4. Education creates unique skill sets.
There may be ways that you can work in your field if you do some online research. For example, a fellow graduate who anticipated working in a museum after graduating with her BA in Anthropology found contract work researching and writing content for a walking tour app of historical sites in our province. The work is similar to an assignment that she did in her fourth year. She has been able to find similar contracts and will now have work for the next few months. If you live in Canada, go to the federal government website. There are grants available to businesses that want to keep young people employed. There may be something similar in other countries too.
5. Education is transferable.
This may be the ultimate test of the problem-solving skills that you gained while you were in school. If you can find a way to shine through these weird circumstances, you will make yourself invaluable. Find ways to transfer your wealth of knowledge to different fields. For example, you may be able to offer the company a different set of knowledge base and skills that they didn’t know they were looking for. Ask them to let you display your strong work ethic and your excellent communication skills by offering to do a small project for free. There may be a need in the company that you could fill, even if it isn’t the position that you applied for. For every job that you take, you are adding value to your portfolio.
Putting future plans on hold is tough, especially when there is so much uncertainty. The one variable though that you can trust is that your education can never be wasted. Hang in there fellow graduates. These are tough times, but like every season, this too shall pass.