Time to turn your tassels, ladies and gentlemen. Graduation is in the air!
Normally in May, I collect 15 tips from college students and alumni specifically geared toward your undergraduate years (see Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3), but my focus shifted slightly after receiving my Bachelor of Arts last year. After a year in the workforce, I shared 15 of the lessons I learned since graduation, and decided that this year’s advice from readers should also focus on life after graduation.
Whether you just graduated or are just beginning your college career, you will learn a lot from this month’s blog. Several talented bloggers and professionals have come together to provide their insight into life beyond the classroom, and I am happy to share their words of wisdom with each of you! Be sure to check out their blogs and social media, and add your own tips and questions in the comments section below.
Oh, and to all of those recent/upcoming graduates, congratulations!
The Post-Grad 15: Advice from Readers
1. “Make a list of every possible career path you can take with your degree, along with things that you find yourself doing in your spare time. Don’t immediately reject any opportunity you may come across either, no matter how off the wall it seems and especially if it’s on your list. Finally, stay positive throughout it all. You’ll figure out your career with time, so just enjoy this chapter of your life and know that the best is yet to come.”
– Nicole Simmons, University of Central Florida, Advertising/Public Relations major (Website: Nicole M. Simmons)
2. “Not everyone is going to work as hard as you. I’d like to believe I have always been a hard-working and diligent perfectionist. If I promise something is going to be done, it will get done (even if it means I practically sleep at the office). I have learned however, that even seasoned professionals don’t always work as hard as they should. Not everyone cares as much as you do, and it’s an obstacle you need to mentally overcome. Don’t let it discourage you from working to your potential.”
– Christina Frost, University of Florida, Applied Physiology & Kinesthesiology major
3. “It’s a tough world and finding a job here in the UK, even as a graduate, is hard. Just go to Uni/College, do something you love and enjoy every minute. Employers don’t mind too much what your degree was in; they want to see you stuck to something that a lot of people can’t, and they will see you were determined to better yourself.”
– Kenzie Harvey, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), Performance for Stage & Screen major (Blog: Lemonaid Lies, Twitter: @LemonaidLies)
4. “It’s okay to feel completely lost straight out of school. You spent the past 18ish years educating yourself and the world is a big adjustment, but you’re not alone. No one in their 20s has life all figured out, and if they do, they’re probably missing something huge. And always take time to take care of yourself.”
– Jennifer Zhou, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Chemical Engineering major (Twitter: @sprawlingdivide)
5. “Step out of your comfort zone. If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. Don’t be afraid to take chances. One decision may change your life, but it certainly won’t ruin it. It wasn’t until I left my job and blindly backpacked through Europe, that I found true happiness and purpose in my life. Take the leap. Believe in yourself. Opportunities are everywhere, and it’s up to you to make your dreams come true.”
– Max Pankow, University of Florida, Finance major (Blog: Motivate Your Plate)
6. “Here’s two things you should definitely do before you graduate: Apply for a study-abroad program and get an internship. You will be hard pressed to find a more eye-opening experience than living abroad on your own, and a degree is virtually useless without hands-on experience in today’s market.”
– Jorge Rincón, University of Central Florida, Economics major
7. “My advice is for college students to meet as many people as possible. Go to networking events, meetings and socials; join social and mentorship organizations; sign up or run for leadership positions to boost your presence in the community and show people what you can do. Make an impression. In the future, you’ll be remembered for your involvement and contributions, and your network will become one of the things you’re most thankful for.”
– Kevina Lee, University of Florida, Journalism major (Website: Kevina-Lee.com, Twitter: @kevina_lee)
8. “A big change when moving from college to post-college life is that a lot of your built-in daily support system is displaced: roommates, friends, professors, RAs and other fixtures of college life are no longer quite as accessible as they once were. Sometimes the newfound ‘alone time’ or ‘quiet time’ feels strange or isolating as you navigate early adulthood.
But oftentimes, the moments that feel the most lonely are sometimes the best reminders you are connected to everyone else. Because everybody on this planet has experienced sadness, felt heartbreak, been sensitive to rejection, laid in bed at night with tears coming down their face. The moments that feel the most isolating are usually when you are experiencing the most universal feelings.
With that in mind, my best advice for post-college is to not be afraid to reach out when things feel tough. Something as simple as a text message that says “I feel sad today” to a friend or a parent can get you a little support, and help you deal with some unhappy feelings until things get better. Which they always do. Everything in life, and especially in your 20’s, is always getting just a tiny bit better, even if some weeks the ‘tiny bit’ feels extra tiny.”
– Molly Ford, Northeastern University, Smart Pretty and Awkward*
9. “Always remember that being good at something doesn’t make it exciting. Find what it is you’re passionate about and chase it for as long as it takes. Five years from now, you’ll be happy you did.”
– Mercedes Reinhard, University of Central Florida, Advertising/Public Relations major (LinkedIn: Mercedes Reinhard, Twitter: @isitbutadream_)
Maybe this isn’t the best example of mentorship, but you get the idea!
10. “My piece of post-grad advice is to find mentors who are able to guide you in areas of your life beyond just your career (but you need the career ones too) and seek out their advice when you need it or just check in and bounce ideas off of them. And no matter where your life plans and path take you, stay in touch!”
– Kaitlin Border, University of Central Florida, Accounting major
11. “My first year as a post graduate and young professional was wrought with highs and lows. I’ve learned so much that college didn’t prepare me for, but I wish someone has advised me to make time for myself and the things I find most important. I love my job, but I made a mistake in devoting myself COMPLETELY to my career. My advice is to focus on your career, but be sure to also make time for yourself, your friends, your family, and your health.”
– Beth Ginsburg, University of Central Florida, Elementary Education major
12. “Talk to strangers. Actually, talk to everyone. This goes against one of the cardinal rules your parents taught you growing up, but now that you’re a “grown up,” toss that piece of advice out the window with your twin XL sheets and your astronomy textbook. Everyone has a story, or an idea, or a friend, or a piece of advice that has the potential to simply, yet chaotically, flip your entire world upside down. It’s important that you silence the butterflies in your stomach and reach your hand out to say hello and to introduce yourself to every person around you. Maybe you’re at a networking event and you’re just hanging, idly, by the bar. Or you’re sitting on a park bench, in silence, next to a guy who is also sitting there, in silence. Perhaps you’re on the subway admiring someone’s nail polish color or you’re in the elevator and the person is getting off at the same floor as you. That one ‘first move’ hello is all it takes in this real world to teach you something new. And in this real world, you won’t find lectures or a syllabus or a textbook the size of your coffee table to teach you things. The most important things you’ll learn out here come from the people standing right next to you. It’s that simple.”
– Jen Glantz, University of Central Florida, English and Journalism major (Blog: The Things I Learned From, Book: All My Friends Are Engaged, Twitter: @tthingsilearned)
13. “University leaders will be your advocate. It is very easy to get wrapped up in academics, friends, and social life that you might forget about the other people on your college campus who have the potential to strengthen your network. Some of the most influential and interesting people at college are the employees that work at your university. The directors of the departments, the deans of admission and administration, the list goes on. These people can not only mentor you throughout your undergraduate career but can also help set groundwork for your career by inviting you to attend important dinners with university leaders or even make a call to a friend for your first job interview. In my personal experience, the leaders at my university laid the groundwork for some of the most important experiences on my resume. I participated in small job opportunities in their organization and that small job turned into lifelong relationships that still positively influence my professional journey.”
– Lexi Butler, Stanford University, Communications and Spanish major (CEO of The Grown Up Truth, Twitter: @lbee27)
14. “Don’t take things, or yourself, too seriously, and stop worrying about the little things outside of your control. You are still young, in your early- to mid-twenties, and contrary to what you may think, you do not know everything. You’ll face adversity in time, so be prepared to roll with the punches that life will throw you, and remind yourself that you are not entitled to anything (besides being treated decently by others, which you should do as well). Work hard and be persistent with what you want in life, but be sure to make the time to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
– Branden McCreary, University of Central Florida, Pre-Clinical Health Sciences
15. “If a recent graduate has a specific job in mind during the application process, I would advise them to research former employees who had the same position. As important as it is to get to know who you’d be working with, it’s even more important to learn where a job might lead – did those individuals get the skills they needed in this position to land a killer job at the next level? If you feel it’s appropriate, you should even reach out to them to ask how their experience was.”
– Kacie Boniberger, University of Central Florida, Advertising/Public Relations (Twitter: @kacieboniberger)
A huge thank you to our wonderful contributors! Be sure to check out their blogs and social media.
Readers, what tips would you offer to upcoming/recent grads?