3 Types of Days I Have While Job-Hunting

Days in the Life of a Recent College Graduate

I’m 22-years-old, and I currently live with my parents in a small town in Iowa. But that is soon about to change. (…not the being 22 part, just the living in a small town in Iowa part.)

I graduated from college in May (of 2015) with a Liberal Arts Degree in Art. Perhaps it’s not the most practical degree, but I was “following my heart,” and honestly, I don’t regret it.

A week after graduation, I moved to Wyoming to work for my aunt and uncle at their campground. It was the perfect opportunity to get me on my feet after spending my final semester of undergrad studying abroad in Malta, a tiny island nation in the Mediterranean near Sicily.

I knew this job in Wyoming was only temporary, a means of avoiding the “real world” for just a little while longer, but I enjoyed every minute of living on my own, meeting strangers from (literally) all over the globe at the campground, and spending every bit of spare time reading for fun or hiking/running in the Big Horn Mountains.

I stayed in Wyoming through the summer and returned “home” to Iowa in late September with a few jobs leads but no real plans.

…and here I sit…

A month later, I am still actively seeking my next “adventure,” a full-time job that will (hopefully) allow me to start paying off my student loans. Right now, that’s my primary goal: finding a job that will allow me to pay off my loans (within ten years) so that (in ten years) I can (finally) travel, live frivolously, and maybe even start my own business or do something closer to my field of choice (art/museums). Of course, I also have secondary goals: finding a meaningful career, living somewhere exciting, meeting like-minded people, and (maybe) running another half-marathon. But sadly, all of this hinges on finding a job and making enough money to pay off the loans and also afford whatever lifestyle I develop.

It’s an incredibly daunting task. I don’t just mean that finding a job is daunting (which it is). There’s a lot more that comes with job hunting than simply starting a career. There’s moving to a new place and finding an apartment (and maybe even roommates), meeting new people (which is just as scary at 22 as it is at 6), and simply trying to fend for oneself and navigate a new city. And although I have previous experience doing all of these things, right now it all just seems so much more crucial — more final and long-term — which is something that I have very little experience with.

“Where do I get groceries?” “What’s there to do for fun around here?” “How do I put together this ikea furniture?” “When does the trash get picked up?”

These are just some of the questions that I currently find myself asking. And again, it’s incredibly daunting!

So what am I doing with the rest of my time (when I am not stewing about these questions) and how is my job search going? Well… Typically, my days go one of three ways: incredibly productive, enjoyable (or recreational), or uninspired (or mopey). (WARNING: these days do not occur in any particular order and sometimes a day can drastically shift from one type of day to another type with no real warning.)

Type 1: “Incredibly Productive”

On the days when I am incredibly productive, I treat “job-hunting” as my full-time job. I wake up at 7:45, brew myself a cup of coffee, and spend the day sitting at the kitchen counter, browsing job search sites, refining my resume, and writing cover letters. These days typically occur on weekdays and are the result of a good nights rest, a general feeling of optimism, and having the house to myself while my parents are at work. (Non-pro tip: Take your work to a cafe, being in public might help hold you accountable. I, sadly, cannot do this, as there is no cafe with wifi within a 30-mile radius of my parents’ home.) I like these days. They make me feel like an actual fully-functioning adult.

Type 2: “Enjoyable”

And then, there are the days when I simply enjoy the free time that most adults hardly get in their lives. I pick up a new book and devour its pages. I go for runs or long walks with my dogs, Chase and Seamus. I binge watch episodes of certain TV series on Netflix that I never allowed myself to watch in college (I didn’t like to “waste” a lot of time in those days). One might also call these days “mental health days.” At the end of them, I feel great. I’m rested and ready to have another productive day.

Type 3: Uninspired

But lastly, there are those days that seemingly come out of no where. Like when you’re driving your car at night, completely in your zone, just trying to get home, and all of a sudden you think you see a deer. Your stomach flips, your grip on the steering wheel tightens, and eventually you realize that what you saw was just a mailbox or a branch or some stupid thing that fooled your eyes into thinking it was a deer. No major harm is done. For the rest of the drive, you’re simply more alert and ready for the next “maybe deer” to come along.

Do you follow?

Allow me to explain… These are the days when I realize that I haven’t heard back from a single job that I applied to in the last week (or more). The days when I get a rejection email for a position that I knew I was under-qualified for but applied anyway to “just to see what happens.” And the days when I have had enough of the endless searching (and searching and searching) that it often takes to find that right position. On these days my ego is fragile, and I just mope around the house. I move from one couch to another, trying to build up enough energy to simply shower or go into town for a coffee (at a cafe that doesn’t have wifi). These days suck. They make me question the choices I made in college, including my major, my extra-curriculars, and everything else I did during those 4 years.

But I’ve come to realize that each one of these types of days are an essential part of the process of growing as an individual and finding that “perfect job.” No one type of day is more important or valuable than another type of day; and no one type of day is more harmful or detrimental than another type of day. The uninspired days are just as meaningful as the productive days, which are just as meaningful as the enjoyable days. It just depends on your perspective.

Yes, the uninspired days suck, but they also force me to reevaluate my goals and look a little harder for that “perfect job.” They remind me that things happen (or don’t happen) for a reason, and that maybe I’m simply not searching in the right places. Similarly, the enjoyable days provide instant gratification; they remind me that life isn’t just about finding a job and paying off student loans (in ten years); and they teach me that balance is essential to my overall well-being. Finally, the productive days are just simply great. They encourage me that when you have passion for what you are doing and work hard to produce results, the rewards are often much sweater than when you only put in menial effort. (Hopefully, I will be able to confirm this once I actually get a job!)

I’m 22-years-old; I’m young, healthy, and eager to make my mark on the world; and I have plenty of time to find my perfect job. Oh, and… I’m moving out of my parents’ home in Iowa next week!
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