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    18 Things That People Who Graduated In The Great Recession Want This Year's Grads To Know

    "Just because you find yourself on an unfamiliar path, that doesn't mean it's the wrong path."

    Graduating from college during an uncertain time, um like now, can be equal parts exciting and terrifying. On the one hand, you've just accomplished a major life goal that you probably worked really hard on, and that calls for a celebration! But on the other hand, you have the big, looming question of what's coming next.

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    When I graduated in 2010, it was really hard to find a good job, and the economy was still feeling the effects of the 2008 crash. It was a different reality than what I'd been planning on, and I spent a few years working in call centers (the hardest job ever, tbh) and writing on the side before I managed to snag a job in my field.

     My advice? If you can't find a job in your field right away, it's OK to take any job you have to. But at the same time, pick up a side gig or volunteer role that helps you gain the experience you'll need to get where you want to go. It might take longer than you planned, but you can still get there.

    I was super-curious to see what kind of advice other recession grads like me have for the class of 2021, so I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their wisdom. Here's what they had to say:

    1. As you're searching for a job, you'll probably face some rejections. Do your best not to take them personally.

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    "Remember more than anything that your worth is not dependent on being employed in any way. After so many job rejections and seeing your friends find jobs, it gets difficult to not take it personally, and it will hurt. YOU ARE NOT YOUR JOB!!"


    2. Start working on your credit score now. Having a healthy credit score will make your financial life sooo much easier.

    "Graduated in 2008. Work hard for your credit. I had to get myself a secured credit card, as so many banks were going bankrupt at the time that I couldn’t get one otherwise (gave the bank $300 for a “$300 line of credit”), but I slowly grew and worked on it until now I have a credit score over 800. Seemed impossible at the time to even get started, but I’m so thankful that I did."


    3. It's OK to take a job you're not that into while you look for a job that you really, really want.

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    "Take whatever job you can to make money, and don't feel bad about it...but don't stop looking for something better. As the economy improves and you gain more work experience, getting jobs you actually want will get easier. You may not get the head-start others have, but your life is not ruined. Just don't let yourself get stuck."


    4. Don't sweat it if you have to take a job in retail or the service industry to get by. If anyone judges you for it, that says more about their character than yours.

    "Don't be embarrassed if you have to get a job that isn't 'professional.' My first job post-college was in retail, which is not my desired profession, but I took it because I needed money. I got made fun of mercilessly because look what I was doing with my degree (hahaha, sooooo funny). But I ended up really liking it; the people were nice, and the hours were flexible. I learned any job is a good job if they pay you decent money and you enjoy being there. Be patient with yourself, and just keep working towards your goals, and do your best to shut out the naysayers."


    5. Start saving for retirement as early as possible to give your money more time to grow.

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    "Start a retirement plan. If your work offers a 401(k), get in on it. Contribute as much as you can. Otherwise, look into an IRA. There are benefits to both Roth and traditional IRAs, and even if you may never actually be able to retire (lol, capitalism), getting a head start on saving will at least guarantee that you have some cushion in the future."


    BTW, if you're curious what all these retirement accounts are about, check out these 401(k) facts or this Roth IRA explainer to break it down the easy way.

    6. If there's a particular company you really want to work for, keep an eye out for openings, and be persistent.

    "I graduated with a degree in graphic design/art. The arts field was hit pretty hard during the 2008 recession. I had to have an internship before I could get my degree. I interviewed at a few smaller agencies/companies, but no one was willing to take on a new employee, even an unpaid intern! I was determined to get a job no matter what. I was persistent with an agency I wanted to work for and kept following up until they gave me an opportunity. I did a lot of odds and ends work, but I did learn a lot in different parts of the agency. Persistence is key; even if a company says they don't have a position available, make your presence known and how you can be an asset to their team!"


    7. Dealing with changing plans and uncertainty can be challenging, but try not to let fear or anxiety get the best of you.

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    "Build a time machine 👌💯✅

    JK, my main advice is to not make decisions from a place of fear, and try to trust that there are a variety of ways for things to work out for you. Just because you find yourself on an unfamiliar path, that doesn't mean it's the wrong path. You might not end up where you thought you were headed, but it might be better than you ever imagined."


    8. Staying at home (or moving back) is nothing to be ashamed of.

    "Move back in with your parents, if they'll let you. It's not ideal, but you'll save a bunch of money. And be sure to 'earn your keep' by doing things around the house. You're not a kid anymore, so it's time to start doing laundry and cooking dinner for your parents every once in awhile. I used to call my parents my roommates and started treating them as such instead of acting like they had to take care of me. BTW, I finished my undergrad in December 2008."


    9. Working long hours might sound like a good way to prove yourself, but you need time to live your life too.

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    "2011 grad here. I wanted nothing more than to work at an ad agency (peak Mad Men years) and was one of the very few people who had an agency role right at graduation. I worked 70+ hours a week for $30K a year and was miserable. Meanwhile, I had friends who were servers working 30 hours a week and making $45K. Sometimes, a non 'career' position might make you much happier and pay better. There's always time to pursue passions down the road, and you need to make sure your job is sustainable."


    10. Don't be afraid to step off the beaten path. You don't have to jump right into your career.

    "Do the unexpected thing, the thing completely opposite of what everyone else is trying to do. Graduated 2008 pit of the recession with a business degree, and everyone said look for (nonexistent) work, or at minimum an internship. I spent the summer working at a camp for people with disabilities and then found a program to teach English in Spain for the year. Hands down the best year of my life. When I came back, things were still tough; I lived at home for a while, and then got a job which started my career trajectory that’s lasted until today. I don’t feel that it was a year lost whatsoever. I grew tremendously, made amazing friendships that have lasted until today, and was still able to get a job."


    11. Keep an eye on business news to get an idea of where you might find good jobs.

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    "Don't be afraid to job hop, turn down a job offer, and do gig work in the meantime to support yourself. Pay attention to the news so you know which sectors are growing and which are flailing. When I started the job search in Spring '08, all the aggressive/flashy companies that had great starting packages were finance industry and retail. A lot of my friends lost their offers/jobs after already making investments in moving to a new area. If we had paid closer attention to what was happening, we all would have been better off."


    12. Look into public service programs and other organizations where you can start getting work experience.

    "2007 graduate here. Consider a year of national service like AmeriCorps Vista. You'll get real-world experience, an education award you can apply to your student loans, and you'll spend a year making an impact. Besides, you then get non-competitive eligibility for federal jobs as well as a great résumé builder. National service can change your life and your career path — I'm living proof."


    13. Use your network when you're looking for work. Having solid references in your corner or a referral for an open position could make a huge difference.

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    "Networking and staying connected is very important. You may want to run away from your school and never look back, but resist that urge. Before you leave, get all the contact info you can from your teachers, guidance counselors, leaders/members of clubs, etc. When you're free of school, connect (or reconnect) with family friends, old acquaintances, just whoever is a social person you know. If worse comes to worse, look up recruiters and head hunters in your area.

    It's exhausting, and more work than filling in an online résumé, but a strong referral is absolutely key in a challenging job market. You want to be the first name that comes to mind when someone in your network hears, 'Do you know anyone who is looking for a job?'"


    14. And when you're considering a job offer, look at benefits, too, not just the salary.

    "If they offer benefits, vacation pay, and 401(k) options, take the job!! Accruing experience even at lower pay matters, and if you are able to live at home, pay off those loans!"


    15. Depending on your field, graduate school might be a great next step.

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    "Consider graduate school. I was the first woman in my family to go to college, so getting a master's degree never crossed my mind. During my junior year, a professor invited recent alumni to come back and talk about their post-graduation experience. It was during that seminar that I learned if you get into the right program with a teaching assistantship, GRADUATE SCHOOL CAN BE 100% FREE!!!!

    That night changed my life. I applied and was accepted into a program with a full tuition waiver and $1,200 monthly paycheck for teaching an intro class. I graduated three years later debt-free with an MFA and a global professional network. If I had skipped class that evening, I would have spent my post-grad years hustling waitress gigs and trying to get into small local art fairs."


    16. Try to stay on top of your debt. The sooner you can pay it off, the more financial freedom you'll have.

    "Map out your debt (each card, each loan) with the interest rate, payback date, minimum amount, and website, and then pay your minimums on everything and throw more money at the higher-interest debt accounts. You’ll pay them off faster and save yourself money in the long run. Future you appreciates it!"


    17. Try lots of different jobs. You'll gain interesting experiences, and you might even discover a new passion.

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    "2007 grad here! Don’t be afraid to do a lot of different things before landing a solid position in your major realm. I have a BA in business administration and communications. I worked for a movie studio, rented skis a few winters, interned at a grassroots PR company (which paid in concert tickets), and at the makeup counter at Macy’s. All that experience and job history said I put the effort in and could be reliable. It helped me land the ideal job in my field making really good money, and I stayed with them for 6 years."


    "Graduated in 2010 with a degree in social studies education, and I could not find a job anywhere. Moved home for two years but took any job and ended up teaching special ed. It was the best decision of my life. I fell in love with something new and ended up pursuing things I had never dreamed of. Don’t be afraid to try something new; you never know where it will lead you. You can’t always follow a clear-cut path — sometimes fate will lead you where you will go."


    18. And finally, don't worry about being "behind." You're exactly where you're supposed to be.

    "You’re not behind. Behind what exactly? A human construct of fake milestones that are supposed to signify achievement. You’re doing just fine."


    What advice do you wish someone had given you when you graduated? Share it in the comments below.

    And for more stories about money and careers, check out the rest of our personal finance posts.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.