What to do Before you Land Your First Job
By Daniel June
Graduating, passing the bar, all those accomplishments give you a thrill. You’ve done what many can’t. Perhaps you’ve even done it well. But assuming you don’t have an offer waiting for you at the exit, you are due for an ordeal.
You already know what to expect: you will be job searching for longer than most graduates. You will experience the slow extermination of your wilder dreams, the perfect job, right where you want; slowly you will sell out, consider lesser offers, and be tempted to finally land any job whatsoever. Pizza-delivery man is a worst-case scenario, but some grads have resorted to it. You will come to that moment when you have to ask yourself if holding out is worth it, and predict whether a lesser job in the interim will bolster or hinder your ultimate career goals.
The best you can do is good enough: if you put your full heart into finding a job, according to the old saying “It’s a full time job finding a job,” then you won’t regret any compromise you finally made. There is necessity, and we should never be ashamed to bend to necessity. The alternative is breaking.
Therefore, before too long, after you have enjoyed a nervous “vacation” from the entire business, you will want to do to things: soul searching and making a game plan.
Soul searching amounts to evaluating who and what you think you really are. Some people are willing to work in factories doing mind-numbing work for their whole lives. That doesn’t make them bad or inferior. It is who they chose to be out of a limited range of options. You too have the opportunity to define who and what you are, what you are willing to do, what you won’t do, where you will go, where you won’t. As Epictetus said, “Everybody has a price, but dear Lord, don’t sell yourself short!”
An austere game plan is the best way to overcome the inescapable anxieties of job searching. You will choose who you wish to interview you, you will make the contacts, you will probably keep a notepad of dates and places you’ve applied, and if you’re a bit masochistic – just a little can be delicious – you will recite the 50 places that have rejected you so far.
The key, however, is having a plan, and once it’s set, letting your worries go. You are doing your best, and nothing more could rationally be expected by you. Having done that, chosen who and what you are willing to become, and making a plan on how you will become it, something utterly methodical, you are in control and you are the closest thing presently possible to being a master of your own destiny.