Career Counselling – The Job Market
When the average entry-level position requires a university degree and half a decade of experience for a wage that pays well below the poverty line, finding a job that balances your financial needs and provides fulfillment seems like a laughably idealistic goal. While laughable, it’s hard not to feel that a certain injustice is going on.
You’ve worked for years to get to graduation, having a reward dangled in front of you since childhood, a promise of some reward to your hard work. Most graduates come out of school in their twenty-something’s, and (legitimately!) expect a living wage. Now that school is done, society tells you it’s time for work, family, house, etc. Oddly, society also denies you these things. Jobs don’t pay less than they everhave. Houses cost more than at any point in history.
It’s a paradox that nobody seems to recognize. Society expects you to succeed, it tells you that with hard work anybody can achieve a fulfilling future, and then it goes and denies that for everybody. A cultural cognitive dissonance that everyone holds but nobody recognizes.
It’s a recipe for depression and anxiety; so it’s no wonder that those feelings are endemic for new graduates in Ottawa. Unfortunately, new graduates occupy a massively disadvantaged economic position in Ottawa. They are a class of people in tremendous need of help, and they are least capable of seeking it out. Ottawa Therapy Services is here to help. Here are a few pieces of advice we offer from our Career Counseling service for new grads:
Practical Advice for Dealing with Career Anxiety
Check Your Expectations
If you’re a new graduate, chances are you expect of you near future that with a little more work you’re going to find a fulfilling job. If you hold onto this idea too tightly, there is a very real chance that you are on a path to enormous suffering, depression, and anxiety. This isn’t to say you don’t have a legitimate right to expect this, because you do, but having a right to expect something of the world isn’t the same as having a practical expectation of the world.
The fact of the matter is that you have probably been raised to believe that work is supposed to be what provides your life’s fulfillment, and the only thing separating you from that is hard work. Both of these ideas are false.
They say ‘get a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’. They tell you that all you’ve got to do is work hard and this idea job is within your power to achieve. While it’s true that anybody is capable of finding a fulfilling job or ‘calling’, it’s far from true that everybody is. If everybody was able to do what they found fulfilling, 90% of the services that are provided by working people wouldn’t exist. We wouldn’t have many garbage people, nor roofers, nor administrator, nor accountants. The fact of the matter is that while jobs can provide fulfillment, they aren’t supposed to.
So stop expecting fulfillment from the work you choose. Work is nothing more than a painful necessity to most people; it’s not meant to be anything else. If you can simply subtract the ‘painful’ from ‘necessity’ with respect to your job of choice, you’re already ahead of 90% of the population.
This might seem like a sad realization, but it isn’t. People are raised to expect fulfillment from work, and adjusting that expectation doesn’t mean you can’t expect a fulfilling life. It simply means that ‘life’ and ‘work’ are not meant to be the same thing. Your life is capable of meaning beyond that which you find at work. If you can find a place to work that allows you to find fulfillment in the things you do in life, you’re set. Fulfillment comes from things like friends, family, hobbies, etc. Expect it from those sources and find a job that gives you what you need to focus on those. A job that doesn’t drain you, take you away from family and friends, gives you the money you need to live comfortably, not ideally.
Expect to Be Confused and Scared
The idea that anyone is capable of achieving their ideal future is a recipe for tremendous anxiety. There are a nearly infinite number of available career paths for us to take, each with their own costs and benefits, and we expect ourselves to be able to carefully weigh each and every one to make the absolutely optimal choice.
It’s no wonder that so many new university graduates find themselves in a position of total crisis. They have spent years walking down a path set out for them by a person with different tastes, ideas, and expectations; their past selves. They graduate with specialized knowledge and abilities in a field that may not resonate with them anymore, finding themselves having walked far down a path they may no longer want to be on. Many feel locked into their future, and unfortunately continue on, living out a future set out to them by their 16 year old self.
It’s important to recognize that you don’t have to do this. University educations are almost always generally applicable. There’s nothing stopping an engineering grad from becoming an entrepreneur. No cosmic force prevents a commerce major from becoming an engineer. Its of central importance to gain the recognition that nothing outside yourself is preventing you from walking the path you choose, only the fear and anxiety inside yourself. Dealing with this comes first, dealing with life comes second.
Fulfillment is Different From Meaning and Satisfaction
Fulfillment applies to the whole of our being. When one is fulfilled, there is nothing more that they could possibly want or need. This is a tremendous, and somewhat unreasonable, thing to expect from work. Perhaps 1% of people who have jobs also receive life fulfilment from it, and that’s being generous. Walking into a job search expecting this is simply setting yourself up for disappointment.
Instead, focus on smaller and more achievable goals like meaning and satisfaction. Perhaps you won’t be fundamentally changing lives as a desk clerk at your local bank, but you will be having an impact, however small, on the lives of everyday people by helping them with their finances. Moreover, you’ll leave everyday with the time, energy, and finances necessary to find fulfillment from others in different ways that don’t relate to your work. Perhaps you’ll be able to take those jiu jitsu classes you’ve always wanted, or learn to paint.
What you should expect from work in life is simply that it shouldn’t drain you of your time, energy, and soul; and that it should provide you with enough money for the things you want to do and have. Reasonable hours, reasonable pay, and reasonable meaning. Don’t expect fulfillment from a job, because that’s not what jobs are for. Expect to get paid for your time, and find a place where your time is spent doing something you don’t hate.
Book an Appointment With Capital Choice Counselling
These are three of many ideas that can help any new graduate navigate the confusing task of career-searching. There are so many factors to balance and so little guidance available in this regard that the task is consistently anxiety inducing, and can land people in a pit of despair. Understand that there are ways of dealing with this, and the best is to get in touch with professionals at Capital Counselling. We know what you’re dealing with, and we can provide you with access to everything you need to deal with it properly. Simply contact us and we can help.