By Emily Guajardo |

There is nothing like the anticipated joy of walking across a wobbly stage in front of your cheering family and numerous never-before-seen colleagues apathetically clapping as you make your way across. Shaking the hand of an unidentified “important” academic official as he commemorates your transition from broke college student to invincible graduate, makes you feel unstoppable. 

With friends eager to see your first post on how your job interview went and former professors semi-interested in your plans, looking for a job, being called for a second interview and being hired is one of the hardest chapters to face as a recent college graduate. 

Don’t get me wrong, graduating from any institution is a huge accomplishment; but regardless of how you slice it, finding a job that pays well is an uphill – and frankly, harsh – battle. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), nine percent of college graduates between 21 – 24 years old are unemployed. 

Collectively, that makes up about 350,820 students each year. 

Although the percentage has dropped since 2011, the recent percentage of unemployed graduates shows many different aspects of the professional job market today including lack of opportunities, higher demand for experienced personnel and a lack of emphasis to integrate young professionals with experienced supervisors. 

Along with this, studies from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth explain that while candidates with college degrees have a higher chance of being hired, many markets are not able to employ new candidates at their fullest earning potential causing many college graduates to work at lower paying jobs and ultimately, in positions outside of their expertise. 

And let me just say, you won’t like the idea of getting paid $8.50 an hour after paying $40 thousand on a couple of classes and a stack of loan notices piling onto your counter. 

Austin Clemens, Computational Social Scientist for the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and Marshall Steinbaum, former Research Economist for the Roosevelt Institute, explain how the short supply of U.S. based jobs forces recent college graduates to be displaced causing damage to the job market, quality of work produced and economy as a whole. 

Today, nearly 20 percent of recent college graduates find alternate routes to find a way into the job market. While some remain unemployed and resort to alternative strategies for economic survival, others choose to continue in higher education studies in hopes of snagging a job after their graduate studies. 

In cases like these, students, like myself, choose to acquire more student loans, work-study partnerships with their prospective university and other forms of hustle to make ends meet.  

Graduating with high honors, good references and loads of semi-professional experience from a reputable school was great for my self-esteem – and my parents small talk conversations over how their kids were doing – but not for the job market. The journey of finding a real job led me to work multiple jobs including working for a fast food chain, serving as an office assistant for less than minimum wage and being hired – and eventually wrongfully terminated – from a small marketing firm after being verbally harassed for six months. 

The journey is hard and, just as the research suggests, it’s only going to get harder. 

However, that doesn’t mean it should hinder you from pushing yourself everyday. 

While the idea of going back to school might sound like a drag and the realization of potentially having to work at a boring job at first seems like a downer, the degree you obtained will pay off in the end. 

You will make it to the big leagues. You will make a living at some point. You will become your idealized version of successful. Just keep pushing. 

Trust me, everyone goes through the trenches trying to find a way to dodge the rejection grenades being thrown your way. The good news is that everyone makes it out (and alive) at some point.

Prepare yourself for the battle of numerous applications and understand that you might fall into a pit from time to time. Above all else, remember to take a good look at those blurry faces as you walk across the stage; it’ll be your five seconds of pure, uninterrupted glory. Time to gear up.