Any college graduate will tell you that walking across the stage and being handed the degree you spent however many years working to obtain is a euphoric and indescribable feeling. They might also tell you that that feeling is short lived, because after the cheering, celebrating, and partying over your grand accomplishment, it’s time for the real world. The time in between graduating college and landing a job, starting grad school, moving to a new city, or whatever your next move is can be a confusing, disheartening, and emotional roller coaster. However, there is always hope. I’m certainly no career counselor, but these five things helped get me through that angsty, in-between feeling of post-grad life that felt a lot like this:
I know the last semester of college is beyond hectic. You’re wrapping up internships, completing huge projects, and taking finals. The last thing on your mind is what happens after the degree; you’re just trying to get it! The common mistake is to wait until after graduation to start preparing for your next move, when you should actually begin before: go to job fairs hosted by your university, utilize your school’s career services department; have them look over your cover letter and resume, build a networking list to reach out and connect with those already a part of your career field, begin looking for jobs that are open in your field, begin studying for the GRE. Did I do any of that? No! When I first started applying for jobs, my cover letter was trash, my resume was bogged down with unnecessary information, I skipped job fairs, and I had tons of connections but used less than half of them. Trust me; the more prepared you are, the less the real world will shock you. Take it from somebody who learned the hard way: this girl. If you’re reading this and have already graduated, don’t worry. You can still turn it around. Start now!
I’m a crybaby. I believe tears are therapeutic and an occasional pity party is good for the soul. Sometimes I think I should’ve been a Cancer. That being said, it’s ok to get frustrated and upset after you graduate. If you don’t have a job or plan lined up straight out of college, your life is going through a crazy transition and it’s perfectly normal to feel the post-grad blues. It’s ok to own it, but don’t sulk so long that it begins to own you. That only leads to depression, which can be super easy to fall into during this time. Especially if you’re like me. I love to work. I’m used to being busy. Without a full time job or classes to go to after I graduated, I was thrown for a loop (I worked as a substitute teacher, which was steady and productive work, but still had way more free time than I was used to). You may think having free time to eat cheese puffs and watch Netflix all day after years of studying and grinding sounds like heaven, but it’s not. Pout for a little while, but take off the robe, get in the shower, and put your energy toward doing something productive after a while. Which leads me to my next tip:
Don’t Let Your Job Search Become a Job
Getting up, opening the laptop, and searching for jobs all day is honestly the quickest way to become discouraged. (This is because most jobs are gained through networking. You can be a pristine candidate and apply to five jobs a day online, but in several cases, it’s not what you know but who you know. A lot of the jobs you apply for will be snatched up by someone less qualified who had the right connections or pedigree. Jacked up? I know, right?!) If you’re eager to land a job, which most college grads are (we didn’t go to school for nothing. Hello!), of course you should be actively looking! However, you cannot let it consume you. Find healthy ways to balance your new free time between searching for employment, dabbling in hobbies, and putting your energy toward bettering yourself and further preparing yourself for your field. Read that book you didn’t have time to during school, start painting again, catch up with friends, brush up your cover letter and resume, get back to you and back in touch with yourself. When utilized properly, post-grad life can actually foster several positive benefits.
Surround Yourself With Positive People
There is nothing like being surrounded by people who support and believe in you. During my job search, I was blessed to have a group of positive friends, family members, former classmates, professors, and mentor teachers who encouraged me. You’ll need friends who aren’t in your field to help you relax and take your mind off whatever post-grad feelings or dilemmas you’re facing. Your networking list can help remind you of your professional competence during moments of self-doubt. It’s also equally important to know who to avoid during this time. For instance, a certain family member said to me AT my graduation dinner only an hour and a half after crossing the stage, “Oh, you’re a teacher? You oughta have a job!” ..… Good day, sir/madam.
Remain Patient, Positive, and Keep the Faith!
This is my most important tip. Personally, I can only speak on this from a Christian perspective, but it doesn’t matter if you believe in Buddha, Confucius, or the universe; you have to let go of all worry, fear, and control, and ask and believe that you will receive what you most desire out of your post-grad life. Don’t give up! In my case, as soon as I decided to “let go and let God” as the old folks say, I was blessed with my job. My offer came so quickly and unexpectedly that I knew it had to be nobody but Him! So whatever you believe in, you have to train yourself to remain positive and believe that he, she, it, or they will bring your desires about in due time. Now if you’re anything like me, it will be a process! But it’s so worth it. I promise.
I don’t know where you are in your post-grad life, but remember the only way to go is up! Happy hunting and congrats in advance!
X’s and O’s,