This is one of those rare posts about my personal life. I feel like not enough people write about life after college these days. I knew there were other bloggers who had just graduated, but their posts were happy, shiny and full of vacations and other fun things. My Facebook feed was full of people I had graduated with bragging about their new jobs. No one was saying anything about how hard it was or how much unemployment sucks. I found myself wondering if it was just me who was struggling, but eventually I realized that it wasn’t just me. Other people just weren’t talking about the shitty stuff and neither was I.

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If you don’t graduate with a job lined up, life after college can really suck. I started applying for jobs well before I graduated and had a few interviews, but I didn’t find anything. Graduation was an anticlimactic event for me. I was going from a world where I knew exactly what I would be doing everyday to the hells of having nothing to do but try to find a job.

After graduation, I went home for a few weeks. My parents were remodeling, and I needed to pack up my old room. I knew that I was going to be living in Seattle, my aunt and uncle had offered to let me stay with them, so I wasn’t busy applying for jobs during that two weeks, but I still felt a strange restlessness. I couldn’t enjoy my last two weeks of doing nothing with no responsibilities because I was incredibly uncomfortable not knowing what I would be doing down the road and not at least attempting to figure that out. It was a strange feeling.

I packed up my stuff, stashed most of it in my parents’ garage and moved to my aunt and uncle’s house in Seattle. My room wasn’t ideal, but it was free, and I was surrounded by familiar supportive faces. Once I got settled in, I focused all of my attention on finding a job. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do so I applied for anything that sounded interesting, from retail to copywriting. My goal was to apply to a job everyday, and it ended up averaging out like that, but there were depressing days where I couldn’t find anything to apply to. I’d go to interviews regularly, but nothing ever panned out.

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At this point I felt like I was unhireable. Despite my degree, I felt like no one would hire me because I had so little traditional work experience. I felt like kicking myself for spending my time designing knitting patterns and writing this blog instead of getting a part time job or internship. “Maybe I should just stick to knitting,” I began to think, even though I have no desire to be a full time designer at this point in my life. I began to ramp up the number of patterns I was writing. I figured that if I acted like a professional designer while I was looking for work, I could eventually end up with a decent income from patterns if I was unemployed for years. It was a low point for me, I felt like I was failing as an adult, but I was trying to stay proactive.

One day my old roommate sent my a link to a job listing for an associate editor position at a cake decorating magazine. She had saw it when she was looking for herself and thought it sounded like something I would like to do. We had had many conversations about what kind of jobs we would like when we were still living together on campus so I popped into her mind when she initially read the listing. I applied and interviewed. It was the first interview where I left feeling like I had presented myself well and like I would be happy doing the job for a long time. Much to my excitement, I got the job! I love my new job, and I was relieved to be done with the job application process. Nothing made me more miserable than applying for jobs and finding out that I wasn’t good enough for whatever reason.

After working at my job for awhile, I realized it was time to move on to a new application process. I began apartment hunting. This was particularly daunting for me because I had never looked for somewhere to live before. I went from living with family to student housing to living with family again. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was completely intimidated. So what did I do? I asked for advice on Twitter and, I got tons of it. Katie who had recently moved across the country emailed me, and we talked about apartment hunting. Her advice made me feel a bit more confident. My friend Lauren from my college knitting group also replied to my plea for advice. It turned out that she was looking to move somewhere she could live with a roommate. That was a wonderful coincidence, and we teamed up to look for a place together. It was a lot easier convincing myself to go to open houses when I had someone to accompany me.

Apartment hunting wasn’t as bad as job hunting, but it still wasn’t fun. There was a lot of competition in the neighborhoods we were looking in. The first open house we went to had 20 or 30 people standing on the front lawn fifteen minutes before it was scheduled to start. Some of the places were gone by the time we called. Some landlords didn’t reply to calls or answer emails. It was frustrating, and I was worried about time. My parents had offered to drive up my furniture, but I couldn’t ask them to drive through the mountains in the winter when there will be snow.

We went to one open house for the adorable upstairs half of a duplex and got lucky. It was so cute that I forgot to worry about the fact that I might have parked illegally (I’m still not sure if that really was a parking space). Despite the closet sized kitchen, we thought we could make the duplex work. Along with a bunch of people at the open house, we asked for applications and filled them out. By pure chance we ended up handing the landlord our applications and deposit first.

Day 21

We got lucky and got the place. We still have to do the settling in stuff which isn’t always fun, but I feel like I’ve made it through the tough stuff of life after college. I’ve got the big things figured out, and I have an idea of what the future looks like for a decent chunk of time. I have business trips, knitting retreats, and holidays to look forward to instead of a whole lot of nothingness. And of course, worry-free time to watch tv shows, drink tea, and knit. It’s nice.

Life after college sucks, but it gets better eventually. I’m lucky to have had so many people like my aunts, uncle, old roommates and even blogging friends step in and try to help me. This summer was rough, but I can’t imagine what it would have been like without support. So, thank you, everyone who has helped or offered me advice. I appreciate it.

30 Comments

  • I’m 42 and I would never go back to those years post-university for anything. It was the worst time of my life. It gets a lot better. I think, at around 30, things really take a turn for the better, lifestyle-wise. So keep on and write about how you feel.

  • I remember all of that…but it was post masters degree. Thankfully I was only unemployed for a few months, and I was living for free with my boyfriend at the time.
    So far, 2 jobs later, I’m still in an apartment, have no car, but have a great job! Can only move up from here!

  • I recently graduated from college as well and although I did have a place to live (500 miles from where I went to school and paying double the rent) I didn’t have a job lined up. I totally relate to the unemployment struggle and honestly, I’m still struggling with it. I never was able to find a job that I thoroughly enjoyed and wanted to be at.

    I am trying to make it as a professional designer, tech editor and contract knitter. After being solely self employed for much of the summer, I’ve taken on a part-time barista position (how cliche, right?) to get me out of the house and a little side income.

    I wish you the bestest of luck up in Seattle, I’ve got friends up that way if you want to meet new people 🙂

  • I like the life posts! I’m so glad I was able to help a bit – I honestly felt totally lost for at least 2 years after college. It’s hard for everyone – and for those who are pretending it’s not, it’ll get hard later. Thanks for sharing. 😉

  • Thank you for sharing the challenges you have been facing. I can tell from your words that it has been stressful and I am glad you made it to a job that you like, a new home with a friend and the freedom to kick back and have room for your knitting and designing. I do love reading posts like this and find inspiration in reading about your successful persistence.

  • Congrats on the house and job!

    I can only agree with everything you’ve written about life after college/university. I ended up not knowing what I wanted with my life either, started a business without any proper knowledge about how to run such a thing, and it sort of fizzled out after 4 months… And I don’t know if I have the guts to work on it again. I still don’t know what I want. I got a job, albeit part-time and only for 12 hours a week, to be able to chip in on our bills. I like the work I do now, but I don’t know if this is what I want to do with my life, whether this will land me a proper job in the (near) future, or if I can accept having gone through 6 years of university only to land a job in a field I have no education or working experience in. Sigh. Being a real adult kinda sucks sometimes, doesn’t it?

  • It’s good to hear that things are working out. Your job sounds very fun and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your new flat(?). I know all about how stressful it is to find a new place to live, but haven’t yet tried out applying for jobs, since I’m still (luckily) at University. Have a good weekend and good luck in your new job!

  • Hi Andi,
    Congratulations on you new job, sounds wonderful, and the new apartment.
    I know you put the last few months weren’t good but believe me years down the
    line it won’t look half as bad. You’ll have learned so much from the experiences
    and you’ll be the one being able to advice everyone else.
    I have to say I really do think at some point you should create a book with your knitting
    designs, I don’t think you realise how good they are.

    Ali x

  • Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, but I’m always slow to comment. I thought this post was great, and this topic is important to talk about. College to life is a really rough transition. It’s easy to think that you are one college graduate in the country who is unemployable. Your post goes to show that it just takes time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great post and congratulations… I´m studying English and History and still have three years until my masters degree… and then I ll be job hunting…you give me hope 🙂

  • Congrats on the new job and new apartment! I remember job hunting my senior year, and it sucked. I really lucked out in finding a job either just prior to graduation or shortly after (I think it was confirmed shortly after though at this point it was 13 years ago). For me lots of bumps came later, when I made some stupid decisions and struggled with what career I really wanted, and really only sorted myself back out in that department 4 years ago. Perhaps I wouldn’t have had the bumps I did had I not been so lucky right out of school, but I figure one way or the other, we learn from the struggles and come out better for it on the other side. Congrats again. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for sharing! I’m going through the job hunt for the second time post college and it definitely sucks! There is this illusion that young adulthood is “the best time of your life”…in lots of ways it is, but there are also lots of challenges as you mentioned. Kudos to you for figuring things out so well. The bottom line is “You’re doing it all just right” despite what anyone else is saying or doing. Thanks again…for everything!

  • I’m glad things are looking up, Andi. I did sort of the opposite when I graduated from college. I agreed to take a job I didn’t really want, as a temporary thing, and finally left six years later. I lost momentum. I’m proud that you stuck it out and found something you really love! xoxo

  • I feel you. This is such a universal feeling. There were a couple months there (between my last job and my current job) where I felt like my entire worthiness was tied to my occupation, and the fact that no one wanted me meant that no one would ever want me. Of course, I kind of hate my job now, but it is so much easier to be worried about other things than “how am I going to survive right now?” I’m not out of the woods myself (as you’ll obviously find out!) but it gets so, so much better.

  • I was lucky enough to finish grad school with a job. Since then, I’ve changed jobs twice (once voluntarily, once not). Both times it took me more than two years to find a new job–and that was long before the current recession.

    It may have felt like forever to you, Andi, but you actually landed a job in your field very quickly. You should be proud of your ability to sell yourself.

  • I am SO pleased for you that things have worked out! I really empathised with your description of restlessness after graduation. I had a similar feeling of unease, too. I’ve recently moved home, and also faced lots of competition when looking at houses. It took a month for the TV and internet to be sorted out and in the mean time I watched a LOT of BUFFY (I have all the box sets :)) – really helped me settle in! I randomly picked season 3 – forgot how great that one is! Happy settling-in!

  • You’re wrong on only one point. The settling in part is fun! Enjoy every box unpacked, every cup hook screwed in, every picture hung. There’s nothing like making your space.
    Congratulations on all your success.

  • This was a refreshing post, and one I can relate to very much. I’m so glad things have worked out for you in the end. I tend to trust that they always do! By chance I just wrote a post about my college experiences, I’ve been just bumbling along with post-graduate life…

  • Wow you’re pretty lucky to have found a decent job that quickly! It’s been a few years since I graduated and it feels like I’m still stuck in that post graduation slump. It’s funny, when I moved to Seattle a few years ago I was struggling too and I watched A LOT of Buffy during that time. I guess I felt like if Buffy can save the world over and over again, I can at least get through this job search!
    I’m not sure how much experience you have with Seattle, but as a fellow Seattleite I would be happy to dispense advice (places to eat, drink, and shop for yarn)

  • Yeah! Seattle is great! I’m a native and love it all. I went through the same thing but found my groove after floundering for a few years. Enjoy it all! Someday I’ll get it together to come to a knitting group with all y’alls!

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