Job insecurity among young adults

The difficulty to find a job, despite many years of college studies and the job insecurity in Spain, are an increasing reality among young adults. Moreover, the prolonged frustration derived from not finding a decent job can lead to anxiety, stress and depression (in students) and hopelessness in their parents.

In this short interview in the television program "It's Happening" -EITB- you will find:

  • Some helpful tips to deal with this reality.
  • What HR recruiters value in graduate inexperienced students.
  • Tips on how parents can support their children throughout the job search.

I hope you find it useful.

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Previous risk factors that increase the cultural shock

"Why do some foreign college students find it hard to adjust when they study abroad?"

While there is no magic recipe to prevent the struggle that a student who is temporarily in Barcelona will go through, ​​after talking with more than 450 foreign university students, I have observed that they share some previous common factors that hinder their adjustment to a foreign country . Among them:

  • In the past, they have had difficulty adapting to new contexts (eg. they've struggled to adjust to a new school, to a change of residence, transitioning from high school to college, etc.).
  • They have experienced anxiety when being exposed to changes.
  • It is the first time they are so far from their families and usually struggle when they do so.
  • In social situations they usually feel terribly anxious and can't avoid being continuously self-centred. Such anxiety tends to increase especially in new social situations.
  • They fear big cities.
  • They suffer anxiety when things are not under control.

How can we take these factors into account to help students adjust successfully?

While these previous factors do not act as a universal law, which always occurs in any context, they indicate past patterns that can be probability repeated while abroad. So if the universities that host foreign students, Study Abroad Programs, teachers and students themselves have them in mind, they may be alert, act more quickly and provide sooner the support they need to successfully adapt to this adventure of studying abroad.

Myths about anxiety

"I am anxious, when I lay down to sleep I cannot stop mulling things over, my heart beats so fast it seems to jump out of my chest, I am running out of air and am sure will suffer a heart attack ...".

Often, life situations places us out of our comfort zone and confronts us with our own resources. It is common to think that by aging we learn to have things under control and that the experience of going through many situations is an antidote to suffering and anxiety.

Anxiety, due to its disabling and annoying symptoms, is seen as the bad cop, and is often closely related to the next prejudices:

• Anxiety is the enemy to fight against.

Maybe.

As any painful, disturbing and inexplicable feeling, our first natural reaction is to try to get rid of it. However, if we take advantage of it and read between the lines, anxiety can be taken as a sign of alarm. It can be a useful source of information that reveals that something is not working properly, that there are situations that fracture our balance. It might be the reflect of pending internal conflicts.

• Sure there is a way of controlling anxiety through my thoughts!

Another extended believe I hear frequently is the statement "sure there is a way to control anxiety through controlling my thoughts"… as if there were a magic phrase, a mental trick (for instance to draw a blank) or a talisman that as a plaster can avoid such discomfort. Unfortunately, the rational control is not always able to fight emotionally based issues.

In these cases, the best way to reduce anxiety and prevent future episodes, is to find its origin to understand where it steams from, confront it and find a better outlet (accept what it going on, take action, etc.). Only by confronting the underlying issue, anxiety can be eradicated.

I came to Spain to study, but I don't adjust to it

Once upon a time there was a foreign student who had chosen Barcelona to continue his Degree. He has now been three weeks and so far the experience has turn out to be totally different as he expected: he has little in common with his American fellows and he is not enjoying the experience as he had imagined. The days are long, but the nights when he stays in, are never ending. He wonders what to do with his life and and why he does feel so reckless. "Why have I failed?"He asks himself.

He is confused, unable to think clearly, overwhelmed by anxiety, homesick and starts to consider going back home. But he would walk off with his tail between his legs and one more failure under his belt.

At this point, consulting a psychologist is always a wise decision, why?:

A psychologist specialist in this type of situations (cultural adjustment and associated feelings), has a particular knowledge that can help you make up your mind and provides the necessary dose of reality needed in this cases.

  • Achieving a pursued job, starting a relationship, living abroad... are unique experiences which unfortunately also produce a lot of anxiety. The brain is not used to newness and therefore puts on its guard, triggering a stress response similar to the one our predecessors felt in front of a threatening a lion.
    The therapist will help you identify those situations (external and internal) that are generating more stress than necessary and hindering the adjustment process.
  • Sometimes you carry on difficulties that are awaken by this new adjusting experience. Surely it is not the first time ypu have issues adapting to new places and people.
    The therapist helps you detecting repeating patterns, to see where they come from and how to change them.
  • While this experience is not as easy as expected, it can be a great opportunity to know and reflect on yourselves. Probably, you will not have the chance to do this "inner journey" once you get back to the U.S. and to your busy life.

Study abroad can be a great chance to experience another culture, but above all, to travel to the most important place imaginable... to travel to your inner world. A trip that, by no means, you should not miss.