5 Things No One Tells You After You Graduate College
I remember the days of being in college and thinking, I can’t wait to make money and not have homework anymore. Well, now that I’ve graduated and been an “adult” for almost a year, I can officially say the grass is not always greener. But all the wiser, older folks already knew that. I guess sometimes we just have to learn these lessons on our own.
1. Graduating college is the best and worst thing that will ever happen to you
When I was about to graduate, I knew life was going to drastically change. When asked how I felt about it, I always said graduating college is the biggest catch twenty two ever. I knew I couldn’t do classrooms and homework anymore, but I also wasn’t ready to lose spring break or naps in the middle of the day. It was the best and worst thing happening to me at one time.
Now that I’m about one year in to post-grad life, it’s still true. I find myself longing for one class a day, four hours of work and then whatever I please. Sure the paychecks were a little smaller and I had to squeeze homework in between class and work, but maybe it’s the lesser of two evils?
2. Life gets harder
As someone who is about to graduate college, you have to convince yourself that what’s waiting for you on the other side of that commencement stage is a better, fuller life. What I have found, though, mostly revolves around a lot of bills, emotional breakdowns and self-doubt. I’m not trying to play the pessimist, but this is the truth.
In college, it felt so easy to set a goal for myself because achieving it felt so far away. Outside of doing well in my classes and getting internships, it was nothing I had to be immediately concerned about. After you graduate, though, you’re expected to suddenly have all the answers. Goals? Accomplish them. Dream job? No problem. Housing? Get the trendy apartment downtown. Two words, yeah right.
You’ll feel as though you’re instantly supposed to have all the things I just listed, figured out. Achieving all your goals of moving to ______ and working for ______ while making $______. And what happens if you achieve all those goals you’ve had written down on your to do list for the past four plus years only to realize that’s not what you really want anymore? Welcome to post-grad life, my friend.
3. You probably won’t make as much as you think
Now, this isn’t true for everyone, but I think it’s important to have your expectations in line with reality. When I graduated, I had my heart set on working for an agency versus an in-house marketing department. This means I turned down the salaried job offer one of my internships offered me for a $10/hour public relations internship at an agency. A decision I absolutely do not regret, but be prepared to make those kind of choices.
If you have student loans, remember you’ll also have some nice, new bills to pay every month. Because of this responsibility, you might not be able to afford to get your own place or move to that cool city you’ve been dreaming about right away. I know, it’s super disappointing, but that’s adulthood.
4. Sitting at a desk all day is extremely difficult
This one is very, very true for me. Maybe for others it isn’t, but this has been one of the hardest adjustments for me. Sitting at a desk from 8 am to 5 pm every day is as close to corporate torture as you can get.
At each of my previous internships I thought there was something about the job that I didn’t like. And that “thing” was what always made me want to pursue a different opportunity. Well, after starting my first position that doesn’t have the word intern in the title, I have finally figured out that it’s not necessarily the job I don’t like. It’s sitting as a desk in a cubicle farm all day that I struggle with. So, don’t write off a job too quickly because you’re struggling with being trapped in a building all day. However, I think it’s also very important to know if you’re settling for a job you’re not passionate about. I know better than anyone that sometimes you just have to keep a job for the moment because it pays your bills and you need to show long term work experience on your resume, but if you know the job you have is not for you, keep your eyes open for other opportunities.
In fact, for me, it took a stint of unemployment to start my blog and find what I truly love to do. I think potential careers hit people in the face all the time, the key is to recognize and seize them.
5. You don’t have to “put in your time”
Everyone who has been out in the adult world and then tries to offer advice to the newbies always says, “You have to put your time in.” And for some career paths, that may be true. But for me, whenever I heard someone say that, I just got annoyed. If you discover your passion and create some new goals for yourself, don’t think you have to wait until you’re twenty five or until you’ve spent ten years working in corporate America to start chasing them.
Sure, you might need a day job that pays you so you can practice your passion on nights and weekends, but if you work hard enough, eventually you can quit that silly day job and never work a day for the rest of your life because you love what you do so much. Maybe that does mean, “putting in your time,” but my point is, don’t wait to start dreaming because you think you have to.