Few people face more uncertainty than recent college graduates. This year, which many of them spent at home taking classes online, they not only have to contend with the standard questions most young graduates face—where should I work? How do I get a job?—but they have to navigate a new work landscape, including the possibility of remote or hybrid workplaces.
The path has never been easy to navigate: When my cohost, Christina Royster, and I graduated several years ago, we faced several hiccups finding the right careers for us. Ultimately, things worked out and we both ended up at Fast Company.
To get our own answers about the challenges recent graduates face and advice on finding the right job, we spoke to Kentucky-based freelance journalist Rainesford Stauffer. Her new book, An Ordinary Age: Finding Your Way in a World That Expects Exceptional, explores the extraordinary pressure on young adults today, across our personal and professional lives, to pursue our “best life,” whatever that even means.
Stauffer, who first dropped out of college before eventually obtaining a degree online, says that reframing our perspective can be useful. She says that graduates need to realize that a dream job may not even exist, and that fulfillment doesn’t always come through work. “[People need to] realize that a lot of that may not come from work, especially right now,” she says, adding, “I’ve had a lot of conversations with young people feeling kind of disillusioned by this idea of a dream job and kind of taking all of their self-worth or their time or their ideas of what it means to be a good life, connecting them to their labor output, is something that people were already starting to reconsider, renegotiate for themselves prior to the pandemic.”