For The New College Grad

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


This time last year, I was in the home stretch of my senior year in college. After four years of essays, assignments, exams, long nights working on the newspaper, and quick mornings slapping presentations together, the stress and heavy workload gave way to cancelled exams, award ceremonies, and celebrations. That last month was one of the happiest times in my life, and I was lucky enough to be graduating with a full-time position already lined up for me.

My job search was a bit delayed, mostly because it was too scary and "adult" for me to think about. It was the classic Maybe if I ignore it, it'll go away... situation. A lot of people I knew were applying to more places than I did, more often than I was. So part of it was luck, stumbling along the right job listing at the right time, but another part, I'd like to think, was me. Anyone could have come across the position, but I got it. I worked hard in college, and I had the qualifications and skills to prove it.

When I had my phone interview for what is now my full-time job, it was my last day on campus. I was pacing around my empty dorm room, the walls completely bare and filled tubs lining the wall. My desk was empty, its surface clear except for a single notepad, where I had scribbled down details for the interview.

I remember being asked something along the lines of, "So you've just graduated college, correct?"

"Next weekend. I'm graduating next weekend. I'm actually moving out today, right now."

It was surreal, standing in a room that I had spent the past nine months living in, at a school that had been my home for four years, having a conversation that would determine my next steps. Even then, I don't think it felt real. It's strange to think about how that was only a year ago.

For all of you currently in that position, I want to give you my two cents. You may have heard it before, but hopefully it means a little something extra coming from someone who was in your position not too long ago. I know what it's like to be there, to not know what the heck you're doing. It's okay. You'll survive. Here are a few things to keep in mind:


Enjoy this time.
Those last few weeks before you graduate are some of the best. You might still have exams and final projects, but don't let the time slip away from you. Spend time with your friends. Take a lot of pictures. Remember everything. I'm so happy that I was able to go through graduation with my best friends right beside me.

Be proud.
You're allowed to be proud of yourself and brag about your accomplishments a little bit. If someone congratulates you, you don't have to pretend it's not a big deal. It is. You're graduating college – that's a big deal. Take all of your achievements, skills, and knowledge and be confident in yourself moving forward.

Do what is best for you.
It's easy to feel like there is only one path that you should follow through life. There's not. It's tempting to compare yourself to your fellow graduates, especially when it comes to jobs and living situations. Some people move out on their own soon after graduating, others stay with their parents for a while. There are pros and cons to each. I moved out about five months after graduating. Writing that out, it seems like longer than it felt at the time. I like living on my own and I'm glad I do, but of course there are times that I wish I stayed with my parents longer to save money. When you enter the real world, you might start at a full-time job, or you might land an internship instead. Both are good, both are experience. There's also the chance that you won't find anything – that's okay too. I promise. 

Focus on the job, not the salary.
Again, it's easy to compare where you're at with where your peers are at, but remember that money isn't everything. A higher salary doesn't mean a better job or a happier life. I know it's good to have. Of course we would all love to snag a high-paying dream job right out of college, but chances are, that isn't going to happen. Take a job you like, where you'll be doing things you enjoy, where you'll be learning and growing. That's what counts. It's so much more important.

Your job doesn't have to be 100% aligned with your degree.
Don't be afraid to do some exploring. If you find a job that you're excited about and qualified for and would be happy pursing, but it doesn't quite match up with your degree, go for it. Don't be stopped by a technicality.

Your starting time in the workforce does not define you.
It can be a springboard, yes, but you're also able to ditch it altogether and go a different direction if you want. I know it feels like everything you do matters so much and that you are deciding the rest of your life RIGHT NOW, but you're not. Don't get me wrong – it's important, and I think the positions you take should be useful to you in some way, other than financially, but when you graduate, you are only at the starting line. The finish line is so far away.

Save money – and then spend it.
When you go from the measly paychecks of a college student to real adult paychecks, you feel rich. You feel like you have a lot of money to blow – and you do. My advice is to make sure you blow it in the right ways. If you're like me, being in the real world can be a bit of a culture shock. You might spend more time out of your home than in it. You'll feel like you'll never have a social life. You'll miss naps. Save money so you can spend it in ways to keep yourself sane. Save it for retail therapy every once in a while. Save it for a weekend getaway, or a week-long getaway. Saving money is important, but don't turn into a robot. You can have fun too.

Don't forget about your friends.
I read somewhere once that the friends you have during your last year of college are the most likely to last you the rest of your life. Once you graduate, hold onto the friendships that are important to you. At the same time, don't expect everything to stay the same. Things will change, the dynamic will shift. You might not talk everyday, you might move far away from each other, but don't let little things affect your friendships.

That's my two cents for you, grads. And congratulations. You've done great.


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4 comments

  1. don't forget about your friends is so sincerely important
    have a nice weekend love x

    Stefanie | Casualllyawkward | Bloglovin'

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    1. It's definitely something I've had to try harder with, since it's a bit of a transition from seeing each other every day to seeing each other every couple of weeks.
      Thank you for commenting! Have a great weekend as well.

      Xo

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  2. Congratulations on stepping fully into adulthood! :) I'll be starting university this September and I'm kind of excited and kind of scared, haha. I'm sure that life as a graduate is amazing. x

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! It's definitely an intimidating feeling, but I'm sure you will have a blast. Be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities! Good luck. :)

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