Despite having an economics degree, I’m no guru when it comes to what’s best for the economy. I don’t really understand the current crisis, I don’t know how we can fix it, and I don’t know what effect it will have on me. In fact, I’m something of an ignoramus.
But if I know one thing, it’s how to survive in harsh economic times. You see, I graduated from college in the summer of 2002, and for those of you who weren’t in the U.S. job market then, let me assure you that it was the prickliest of times. Especially for someone with a social science degree from an ordinary state school with no network and poor interviewing skills. It took about 6 months before I found my first job, and it was an excruciating 6 months. But that which does not kill me, only makes me stronger, right? Truth be told I was very sedentary during this time and ate a lot of Ben & Jerry’s, so I actually got fatter and weaker.
Here are some tips that will help you if you find yourself in an extended period of unemployment. I did not realize these tips until years after my unemployment, and to be honest, a lot of my tips are the opposite of what I did.
1) Get a comfortable chair and table, because you’re going to be sitting on it a lot. I used the table in my parents’ basement, which had the added benefit of being in the only comfortable room in the house; it was cool during the summer and warm during the winter.
2) Take on a very long-term project. I joined Netflix and tried to watch all of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 movies. Even though it seems like a pointless task, it will give you something to point to when people ask what you've been up to.
3) Try to limit contact with friends with plush new jobs. They will only make you feel bad about your current slump and take away your focus. Since I was living with my parents I was forced to interact with them, but they were very cursory interactions. I usually limited myself to the following phrases:
“What’s for dinner?”
"I can't, I'm working on an application."
“I’ll be in the basement.” (x 10)
4) Try to get regular exercise. I didn’t, even though there was a treadmill staring me in the face, and I regret it. At the very least walk to 7-11 or McDonald's to buy your junk food. It may seem insignificant, but a little bit of activity is contagious and may lead to more.
5) Last but not least, ENJOY your time off. I know you want to feel depressed, but what’s the point of that? Just realize that it’s not the end of the world, and enjoy what may be the last extended vacation you'll ever get. In fact, why not go on vacation? Preferably something that doesn't require a lot of money. If you have any friends in other cities, go visit them and sleep on their couch. You can check out their company and turn it into a job hunt.