Congrats—You’ve graduated from college! What’s next? Blogger Lindsay VanSomeren discusses key steps for the post-collegiate career search.
Congratulations! You’ve just graduated. Now it’s on to a life of weeding out all the job offers, picking out a new home, and starting a family (or at least getting a pet), right?
Not so fast, killer.
I graduated from college two years ago and was also in your shoes. Rather than picking out my next car, though, I’m still hoofing it to the bus—and that’s when I even am lucky enough to have a job.
I’ll be honest with you; I had expected things to be a lot better than they are now.
I’m not saying everyone will end up this way. Maybe you will get a stellar six-figure job offer right out of the gate and be set for life. Most of us, however, won’t—and we need to be prepared for that possibility.
I could have saved myself a world of heartache and problems if I had just changed my mindset in a few simple ways after I graduated. Lest you make the same mistakes as me, here are some things you can do if you’re getting ready to graduate or are a recent grad:
Don’t Define Yourself by Your Job
You didn’t make it all the way to the graduation stage with your cap and gown by resigning yourself to failure. You had to work hard to get where you are now. You passed up all those fun parties and House of Cards Netflix binges to hit the books and become a psychologist, a theater producer, a wildlife biologist (in my case), or whatever it was you studied.
Chances are, by now, you’ve become pretty busy investing in becoming the thing you studied at school. But here’s a spoiler alert: It might take you a while to get that job. In fact, it may never happen.
That’s why you need to find a way to define yourself outside of your potential job. It’s difficult, though: One of the first questions people ask when they want to get a sense of your identity is “what do you do?” That’s where the next two steps come in.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New
Remember before you went to college? The whole world was open to you. You could become a veterinarian, an artist, a video game designer…
You might be a little more confined in your career options at this point, but you likely have more time now to explore things you didn’t have time for when you were in school. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Go crazy. I’m learning how to play heavy metal music on the guitar and I’m a 5’4” female—the mosh pits would kill me.
Did you study art, but always wanted to learn how to code? Now’s your chance. Have you studied business, but always had an inclination towards making cat sculptures? Get to it right meow. Major in aerospace engineering, but always wanted to read Sartre in the original French? Allons-y!
Exploring new things can also be your ticket to diversifying your income, which will be especially helpful in the rocky financial times of your first few years out of college. Case in point: I used to think blogging meant taking lots of pictures of your meals before I tried dabbling in it myself. Now it’s earning me a full-time income while I wait between biology jobs—and I haven’t taken a single picture of my dinner.
Find Another Cause to Believe In
You went into your field because there was something about it that attracted you. Accountants like putting things in order and filling out forms (or so I’ve been led to believe). Art people like creating things. Wildlife biologists like being outside and learning new things.
Find that basal vein that attracted you to your field in the first place and find a new way to express it. Or, you could even find a way to express the things you didn’t get a chance to do in school, but would still like to do.
For example, I used to want to help people, even though they terrified me to the point of fleeing to Alaska as soon as I turned 18. People are still a prominent focus in the field of wildlife biology, but you’re not having an all-encompassing impact on them. By writing and helping to teach people about how to manage their money better, I’m now able to achieve that goal (while still hiding in my apartment most of the time).
There’s a world of causes out there that need your help. Find your cause and fling yourself at it like an overzealous orangutan to make the world a better place. You may not need your degree to do it, but you will find a new purpose in life after college.
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.