Dear 2020 Graduate,
It’s a tough time to find a job, says Captain Obvious. But, you are not alone. Many have traveled this road before you in the last two decades. I graduated college in 2001, after the dot-com bust of 2000 when the market tanked. I did land a job in Boston after months of searching, for which I was extremely grateful. My second day on the job was Tuesday, 9/11/2001. It was a scary time. A few months later, I was laid-off with 30% of my co-workers. I packed up a UHaul and moved back to my parent’s home in Iowa to figure out what to do next.
I thought that going back to school would be a good idea, so I enrolled and took courses for a semester. In class again, I knew I was just kicking the can and piling on debt. So, I called friends who were also unemployed, we brainstormed and researched. I said ‘yes’ to a job four states away that ended up costing me more money than I earned, so I then found a few minimum wage jobs to pay my bills. To make ends meet, I slept on the floors of cheap one bedroom apartments with two other roommates. A glamorous life, it was not.
Plans often don’t turn out as we imagined or hoped. When we’re in the midst of the unfortunate timing, failures, and missed expectations, it feels overwhelmingly negative. The good news is, you’re in the best season to build resilience and to build the relationships that will bring you forward.
That season was the most important maturing season for me. Up until then, I thought I knew a lot. But, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. During that season, I wrestled with my Ivy League pride and submitted to humility. I allowed myself to listen to those around me, no matter what our differences were. I ate meals for $1.49 because that’s what I could afford (rice, Campbell’s soup and I were well acquainted). I stayed in shape because I needed to be quick on my feet for the 4am shift to unload heavy and precariously stacked retail equipment from semi-trucks. I stopped ‘believing in myself’ and started believing in God. I leaned on friendships because I realized that my friendships were the most valuable asset I could earn.
A few years into that season, I called my dad. He had been wildly successful making his career out of an industry that I previously thought was boring. Early on, I had been too stubborn to listen to his advice because he ‘had never walked in my shoes.’ With my newfound humility, I recognized that he didn’t want to control me or criticize me with his advice, he instead wanted to share his experiences and let me decide how to learn from them.
Graduates, these next few years are not going to be easy, but they can give you wisdom if you’re willing to learn and grow. Hold your pride loosely enough to call on your friends, (and your friends’ friends, your parents, and your parents’ friends,) brainstorm, research, pivot into unfamiliar jobs, make mistakes, laugh together at your failures, and mentor each other. In the book that my dad and I wrote together, the relationships that propel you forward are called your ‘paceline.’ No matter what season you are in, add value to those in your paceline and they will multiply that value back to you.
Co-author of “The Best Seller” with her dad, Doug Reichardt
Available on Amazon.com: The Best Seller
Buy this book for yourself or your dearest Graduates of 2020.