By Megan Anhalt, Alumna of the University of Southern California
So you didn’t get your dream job … and this might have come as a bit of a shock.
Before you go all …
… there are some things you should know. Specifically, these five things every college student should consider when things don’t go the way they planned, dream-job wise:
1. Nothing is Permanent
One of the biggest mistakes I made after college was thinking that my first job had to be the perfect job. According to a study by Millennial Branding, the average 18- to 29-year-old spends just over two years at their first job, switching multiple times throughout their career.
So you didn’t get this one, no big deal. Statistically speaking, it wasn’t your dream job after all.
There’s something to be learned from any and every job, even if it’s not what you envision yourself doing for the long haul. Remember: A job is not a life sentence. Soak up all you can and make the best of it, then be ready to move on when something better comes along.
2. You Never Know Who You Know
Don’t burn bridges, build them. Send a letter thanking your dream employer for considering you for the role. Be friendly and professional (not bitter and angry) and you will start to sow the seeds that can open all kinds of doors later in your career.
Invest in the relationships you have now with classmates, colleagues, friends and mentors.
Finding yourself in a crappy job? Make a new friend. Who knows, maybe that friend you commiserated with at the water cooler is the next Mark Zuckerberg and is there to take you along for the ride.
3. You Can Build Your Own Dream Job
A 2009 Gallup study revealed that self-employed workers were the happiest workers in America. And it makes sense — you can make your own hours and control your own destiny doing what you love.
If you have a passion, what’s to stop you from making that happen right now?
Some great ways to jumpstart a dream career are starting your own blog or micro-business in your free time. Like making beaded necklaces? Try your hand on Etsy. Want to be the next Walter Cronkite? Start your own weekly podcast on YouTube. Need some entrepreneurial inspiration? Look no further than a Google search for teen fashion phenom Tavi Gevinson.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Bubble
If you’re serious about this, then maybe it’s time to push yourself outside your comfort zone. I have one word for you: travel. It can be tough to think about leaving your family and friends to go even just one town over, but opening yourself up to new experiences and an alternate path in life can make a world of difference along your career journey.
Think globally. A few years ago, I quit my job and moved to Australia on a lark. I had no plan at all, and it ended up being the best decision I ever made, full of rich experiences and a network that will last a lifetime.
5. Never Give Up
Sure, it seems corny. But if you truly believe that there is only one path for you, then you shouldn’t give it up now just because one opportunity didn’t work out.
In college, I went after my dream job and was met with rejection after rejection. So I moved on, but never gave up. I stayed in touch with the manager there and when they had a scheduling issue with the person that was hired, I finally got the call. I went on to work there for five years and you know what? It turns out it wasn’t my dream job after all.
So keep plugging and be ready for what’s next.
It’s like Mitch Hedberg said: “You know, I’m sick of following my dreams, man. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with ‘em later.”