My Future

You Might Be Underemployed After Graduation, And That’s OK

Stick with the old, wait for the new.

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Here’s a swift kick to the groin to get us started: you will probably be underemployed at some point in your life.

You could be underemployed right now. In fact, if you’re aged 15-24 there’s a higher than likely chance that you are, or will be at some point, and more so if you’re female.

With that in mind, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. What the hell is underemployment?

Underemployment: The Place Where Reality Kicks In

In simple terms, being underemployed is when you’re employed below your skill set, i.e. someone with a medical degree working at McDonalds, or, more realistically, someone with a BA working in retail (I’m not crying, you’re crying).

Underemployment can deliver a brutal reality check when graduation rolls around and your dream job isn’t sitting there waiting for you. But underemployment isn’t all doom and gloom, it can be a great starting point for the rest of your life.

In With The Old, Wait For The New

That part-time hospo job you had while you were studying? They love you. Now uni’s finished, they want you to hang out constantly like that clingy friend you try to avoid.

You’ve learned the ropes and you’ve proved your worth as an employee. At that point in an employment relationship, you’re pretty sweet. Want Fridays off? Done. Want to go travelling? See you in a month. Most workplaces where large amounts of people are underemployed are aware you won’t stay forever and will most likely try to accommodate you while you’re there.

Use them for money and spend your free time doing what you want: travelling, reading, or watching grass grow. Or, y’know, apply for jobs that you actually want. It’s better to be underemployed than unemployed.

Surprise Yourself

Maybe you’ll take a job below your skillset because you need the money. Maybe you take a job doing something you’ve never done before. Either way, you’ll add more skills to that growing CV that aren’t just theoretical, and you’ll probably make some new friends along the way.

You may even discover a new passion either as a complete career change or just as a hobby. Imagine that: your basic job becomes the starting point for your whole life. That’s a much better scenario than getting your dream job and finding out you hate it.

Pull Yourself Up

Underemployment is not a new thing. Sure, it’s more prevalent now, but people have been underemployed for as long as there’s been a word to describe it.

You’d be surprised how many actual adults started out underemployed. Most jobs have room for advancement, and taking advantage of workplace training will help you get into a job you love that you’re the right amount of qualified for, provided you start in an industry you like.

OK, bringing people coffee isn’t great, but eventually you’ll have other people bringing YOU coffee as you write an ad campaign that’ll make you rich as hell.

Underemployment: it’s like volunteering but with money!

Skilled Jobs Aren’t Everything

You’ve got some form of qualification that tells the world you have skills. So what?

Whether you’re underemployed or not, it doesn’t matter if you’re happy. If you did five years of law only to realise you want to work in retail for a while (or forever), great! You do you.

Find something you like to do and it won’t matter if you’re not using your qualification. Go home happy and the rest doesn’t matter.

Maddie Worledge is a Hobart-based writer with an affinity for sleeping. When awake, she can be found on most social media sites at @maddieworledge, looking at cat videos and recipes she’ll never actually cook. 

(Lead image: Girls/HBO)