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Career > Work

Applying for Jobs Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Penn chapter.

As a senior myself, I can attest to the anxiety inducing process of applying to jobs. Having to think about post-graduation plans doesn’t have to be all bad, though; in fact, it’s the perfect time to dip your toes in the water with no strings attached.

Once again, we’ve just about made it through a challenging COVID semester. While most schools transitioned back to the typical in–person class structure, the first “normal” semester since pre–pandemic was definitely not an easy adjustment. On top of that, job searching is right around the corner for many seniors starting to focus on their post–grad plans. 

As an almost second semester senior myself, I’ve definitely faced the stress of looking for jobs and attempting to slowly get my life together. Here are some anti–stress tips that can help you ease your mind and tackle job applications going into the upcoming spring semester. 

The adjustment back to the status–quo way of life, senioritis, and job application season has led to a perfect storm of stress, chaos, and anxiety. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but it’s been hard having to put on actual clothes in the morning, attend lectures, and run around campus all day long. On top of that, you’re telling me I have to apply to jobs! Seniors are unfortunately facing the stress and terror of job applications. 

A common misconception among undergraduates is that your major determines what career path you must take and that somehow you should know what field you want to go into. My goal is to debunk this myth by encouraging you to apply to any job that sounds interesting, even if it’s something that you never initially considered. 

While I definitely do feel the intense pressure around me to have it all figured out, the secret is that nobody actually knows what they want to do until they try a few different options and one happens to stick. The most important tip for seniors in the upcoming spring semester is to take the pressure off and simply send out a bunch of applications to seemingly random companies since you never know what’s going to happen. 

When I was in high school, my mom essentially forced me to apply to different internship programs that I thought I had no interest in; but, little did I know, I would end up loving my summer experience. Moral of the story: moms are always right (just don’t tell her I said that!). 

Entering the workforce is a similar process as you should send out a few applications to different types of jobs, and you never know where that’ll lead you. I try to go through life with the mentality that you can’t knock it until you try it. I bet if you asked a random sample of experienced professionals, their careers would be a total 180 from their first jobs.

As a senior with one semester left, I definitely sense the all–consuming anxiety about leaving the safe bubble of a college campus and entering the real world. I’ve tried to stay grounded by eliminating any internal stressors that are contributing to my overall anxiety. Something that has really helped me is talking about it with other young post–grad individuals since they recently experienced the same life changes. They can give you better advice or guidance than parents or older individuals since they were most recently in your shoes and the same feelings are still relatively fresh. 

I reached out to a girl who graduated from my high school a few years before me, and she’s become not only a friend, but also a mentor, life coach, therapist…whatever you want to call it, she is. There’s absolutely no shame in reaching out to people you once knew, met a few times, or even found through alumni networks or LinkedIn. Meeting with people can lead to meaningful connections and networking opportunities to help you find your place. 

Another strategy that has helped me hugely is doing some research on famous people that inspire me. I’ve found that learning people’s backstories and their journeys to get where they are now can offer some insight and provide valuable lessons. For example, a founder of a clothing company I love started out in sales, switched to design, and eventually that led her to become an entrepreneur and start her own company with her expertise. 

Realizing that everyone goes through this scary process should ease some of your worries and enable you to simply focus on the things you enjoy doing. Applying to jobs doesn’t have to be scary; in fact, you can use it as a time to research and discover fascinating opportunities that you didn’t even know about. 

The unfortunate truth is that nobody is going to tell you what to do or how to do it, but learning from others and having conversations with people can help you figure it out for yourself. 

Carly is a senior in the College majoring in PPE and minoring in Consumer Psychology. When she's not cackling at old Vines, she is probably binge watching YouTube videos and treating herself to a relaxing self-care routine. She is an astrology and Sudoku enthusiast and loves reading in her spare time...if that's what her horoscope is telling her to do.