We’ve all been there. You’ve submitted a dozen applications, sent countless “connect” invites on LinkedIn, and gone to the umpteenth virtual networking event, all without getting a single hit. The job or internship hunt can be wildly frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re getting absolutely nowhere.
If you’re drained and need a career pick-me-up, look no further for ways to motivate yourself during that ever-important search.
1. Be systematic
It’s important to know what your goals are. If you’re planning on applying to a dozen positions, you need to be able to keep track of what tasks you have and haven’t already taken care of. I personally love writing down all my memos and to-do lists in my planner; it’s such a beautiful feeling to be able to physically scratch off the things on your list as you complete them. Plus, it cuts down on those panicked, “Wait, what was that I needed to submit today?” thoughts you wake up to at 3 a.m.
Have a hard time settling down to actually churn out work? Ellie Rifkin, a senior at Davidson College, says hosting virtual “application parties” are a great way to get some much-needed friend time in while still being productive. Try having your besties FaceTime you for hot chocolate and job hunting – you can even make it a friendly competition to see who sends in the most applications.
2. Find a friend or mentor to help
It’s never good to go at it alone. Try reaching out to people you know who can offer fresh perspectives and advice. “One of my close friends and I usually get together when we need to apply for new jobs/internships to act each other’s ‘editor’ to make sure our resumes and cover letters are the best they can be. Working with a friend, or someone who’s familiar with your employment history is a great way to keep you from submitting your application material prematurely. Plus, I feel like you’re generally more motivated when you know your friend(s) is applying for jobs too,” explains Chelsea Jackson, a grad from Iowa State University.
Don’t forget to utilize your college or university’s career center. Chelsea sums it up nicely, “Typically, everyone in your career services office knows how to cater your application material to your dream job (or internship). I feel like getting that kind of expert advice is bound to make even the least motivated [student] more motivated and confident when they’re searching.”
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
Siena College senior Kristen Perrone suggests “checking in with your friends because chances are that a couple months out of college, not many people will have that full-time gig yet.” She says that the job market will vary depending on where you live, so it’s best not to compare yourself to someone you know in college who easily lined up a job back in their hometown. “Talking with people who are facing the same amount of competition and options as me is comforting because I know it’s not just me struggling. Basic point: location matters, so don’t get too affected by college friends or classmates who may be from a different area and are facing different work opportunities!”
Also, the S.T.E.M. job climate is going to look much different than the education market, for instance. Just because all of your bio major friends have already found jobs doesn’t mean you, as an English major, are doing something wrong. Focus on yourself, and don’t let self-destructive thoughts discourage you.
4. Seek inspiration
You know those Facebook videos telling the stories of how people like Oprah and J.K. Rowling went from rock bottom to major success? It may sound cheesy, but reminding yourself that even the big names had rough patches to overcome can make you feel so much better about your own situation.
5. Keep a positive attitude
Lastly, when you’re super tired and just ready to throw in the towel, remember that all the hard work you’re putting in now will be worth it in the future. “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Katie Gomulkiewicz, an alumna of Davidson College.
Yes, the job search can be unpleasant, and sometimes even scary, but an optimistic perspective can go a long way in making it a more bearable time for yourself. Keep at it, and before long your search will be over! You got this.