Coming Home: Transitional Shock
From February 2017 to the beginning of September 2017, I was in Sydney, Australia, thanks in part to the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship.
Some people are excited to see their family/friends after a long trip, excited to enjoy American cuisine again, excited about the normal routines they have been used to their entire lives…but when the plane landed in San Francisco in September, I cried.
When others asked me what was wrong, I just said I missed my family, but that was a lie…I just didn’t want to leave Australia.
I didn’t want to come home.
A lot of people talk about the cultural shocks you get when you go overseas, but not enough talk about the cultural shocks you get when you come home, namely, what’s next?
Coming home meant I was graduating—which meant I wasn’t going to school anymore, but rather looking for a job. And I didn’t think I was prepared for this transition, even though I had prepped myself beforehand.
It would be one thing if I just went back to school, it’s a routine I am used too, but now I am breaking a familiar structure I’d have since pre-school.
I didn’t have a problem adjusting to Australia—maybe a few changes I had to get used too, but the positive things usually outweigh the negative.
I have worked before, for 8 years, but that was in retail. Now, I’m looking for a career, not just a “job”.
If you are graduating when you come back, here’s is what to look forward to:
- Look for jobs available in your field on various websites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, Linkedin, other various employment websites.
- Create a Linkedin account.
- Attend career fairs.
- Create resumes.
- Create cover letters.
- Find out how to create a cover letter because it wasn’t something covered in your 16+ years of school.
- Make your Facebook page private.
- Create a professional email address and not one that’s ‘angeldust3000’.
- Create portfolios.
- Go to SFSU career center.
- Spend hours on perfecting a resume that you know will get toss as soon as they see you don’t have ‘3 years of work experience’ even though the position is posted as ‘entry level’, but you do it anyway, just in case.
- Get a Lynda.com account or an account on another educational website, to help you hone your skills, or to learn new ones if a job requires it.
- Volunteer somewhere, so you can get out of the house and feel useful if you don’t want to just get ‘any’ job and want to focus on your career.
Meanwhile, you ask yourself, should I have done more while overseas?
Should I have worked, done an internship, volunteer at some community center, even though my time was limited as it was with school? (And if you did, how can that help you in your job quest?)
How can I use my studying abroad experience to get ahead of the job market (or at least make employers interested in me)?
Should I get just any job now, just to pay off the student loan, and focus on my career later or should I work without pay somewhere in my chosen field, hoping to advance later?
How can one get work experience if one cannot get a job in an entry level field or internship because you don’t have work experience?
Should I go to graduate school?
And all this time you just want to go back to your host country.
I will warn you now, some days are easier than others. And some days, there will be no new jobs posting. And some days, you will be so frustrated and depressed by your search that you won’t even want to look and on those days, you’ll need to find something else to do that’s productive. You will have to fight the phrase ‘lazy millennials’ during those moments when you feel like an absolute failure. You know it’s not true, but still, during those first few transitional months–during your job hunt–you will become your worst enemy, and you have fight yourself to maintain a positive attitude.
Studying abroad was a fantasy of sorts, but now, you have come back to reality.