How to Survive Your First Summer of Unemployment

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I remember it well, receiving my diploma as I waited next for someone to hand me my first job. Turns out my first job would be learning to survive unemployment.

The median income for graduates was somewhere in the 50K range, but I figured I could squeeze a few more bucks out of them. Little did I know, I was coming out of school into a recession and spent my first summer an unemployed post-college rookie. Instead of losing my shit, I learned to manage my first summer of unemployment wisely.

Now, let me share my grace and knowledge with you so your first penniless summer can be one of good memories and learning experiences, rather than spinning one of those giant cardboard signs for passing cars. You’ll be old and boring soon enough so try to use your first summer wisely.

Go Way, Way Back And Summer Job-It

Most kids coming out of school think they need to dive right into their career, but most of them don’t really know what that even looks like. So they scramble to get work wherever somebody will pay them. That’s how psychology bachelors get jobs at spray tan salons and communications majors become waiters on rollerskates. Maybe what you need isn’t a career, just a job to afford you the good time you’ve become accustomed to (shitty beer and $5 pizza).

There’s no shame in moving back in with your folks (OK, there’s a lot of shame) while you figure out your next move and save some cash. Why don’t you go way, way back and work at the water park for the summer months, thinking about what you’d like to do with your life while pretending to watch those drowning kids floating down the Lazy River? Yes, it’s true, you can get paid to have fun.

Explore the Local Terrain

Parks Project has been doing some great work helping us escape during the summer. If you’re not bogged down by a career immediately, there’s freedom to pursue the open road. Just another reason to work remotely instead of an office. Bonus points if you rent motorcycles and Wild Hogs your way to summer salvation.

Hiking and camping a short road trip away is not only cheap and easy, it’s smart. Getting out into nature is probably just what you need after a long year tucked away in a classroom with no natural lighting. So ditch the phone, load up some gear and find a spot on the map. Just be sure to let someone know where you’re going so you don’t 127 Hours it. If you have a road buddy, you can plan as you go, which is totally doable since nobody has a clue what’s going on.

Volunteer + Get Involved Locally

The Parks Project isn’t just helping you set up shop with the best campsites and secret trails in our National Parks, they’re also offering up education and awareness that allows you to turn around and return the favor. With our parks in jeopardy of being invaded, they need all the help they can get with preservation tactics and trail restoration, which is something they’re looking to teach the youth about as they become reliant on nature to break up their newfound misery of every-day office life.

There are also plenty of plastic pollution projects going on to help rid these majestic places of their nondisposable, single-use trash. Instead of worrying about fixing all your problems right away, take the time to help some other, bigger problems and maybe you’ll find something better than what you’re looking for.

Start a Side Hustle(s)

Life is all about the side hustle. In fact, most people in your generation are going to have trouble buying a house without one these days. The funny thing about a side hustle is that, if you do it right, it can become your main source of income, and side hustles are usually people do because they enjoy them or they’re niche but good at them. It’s like painting nude ice sculptures, you don’t think people will want them, but you’re great at it and suddenly it’s a huge fad at funerals.

Do What You Love And You’ll Be Rewarded

Not everyone is going to be rich and famous so get used to that idea. In fact, you’ll be lucky to know someone who is (and they’ll spend their life trying to remind you of it). The other end of the spectrum is the guy working a dead-end job because his parents told him to do what they did because it worked so well for them. Our suggestion: Find the middle ground doing something you love. It may not make you rich (but it might), and it may not make you famous (but it might work for one very sweet lady), but we promise if you do something you love and do it well and do it enough, you will find happiness, my friend.