Life After Graduation: What's Next?
As the school year comes to an end, I've been hearing from many of my friends who will be juniors or seniors in the fall or friends that are graduating this year. As an upcoming senior I also feel the pressure to have it all figured out. With my major, graduate school is basically a given, but I know many people who don't even know what they want to do with their major and for those not going to graduate school, they feel pressure to have it all figured out in order to obtain a job after graduation. I don't know about you guys but I feel like our generation just doesn't have their shit together as much as our parent's generation did. But that's just my opinion. As the years go by, more and more education is required in order to obtain certain jobs versus in the past maybe only a bachelors degree was required. For those of you reading this you might say, "yeah these things are all true but how does that help me figure out what to do?" Well, unfortunately I am not a life coach and can't hand you the answers, mostly because I don't have them all myself. What I can tell you is I'm not worried about the future, although I used to be. I'm going to give you guys some tips and tricks for getting your life together so that you can graduate with a little less stress and worry.
The first thing you can do to prevent this stress from occurring in the first place is to be proactive. Don't let graduation creep up on you without any preparation. Over your time in college be sure to make connections, join clubs, talk to your professors and advisor, volunteer and apply for internships. Having experience and a good networking system will help immensely when it comes time to apply for a job, graduate school or any other path you pursue after graduation.
Going into college I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Now as a junior in college my major has changed and I'm not going to be attending graduate school and getting a degree that doesn't follow the normal path of my undergraduate degree. I've changed my mind multiple times and that's okay. Know that as you get older you also get wiser. You will take different classes and gain life experience so it's only natural for your perspective or mind to change. You may be stressed about falling behind, but if staying in college an extra term means you will be happy with your career then I say go for it. Generally you are able to catch up by staying over the summer to take classes and will be able to graduate on time. So don't worry if you change your mind 10 times, don't stop until you're sure you're going to do what will make you happy. In the long run, you will thank yourself for not settling for what was convenient at the time.
Next, apply for multiple jobs. Don't put all your eggs into one basket because you never know what could happen. This is where you utilize your connections and use your experience and knowledge. I know this is not always as easy as it sounds because chances are there is someone who is more qualified, has better grades and went to a better school. You need to find what makes you a unique individual and play off of that. Know what you bring to the table that someone else cannot, draw from experience and your personality in order to show them why you may not be the better choice on paper but have all these other qualities that will help you grow into a stronger and better professional in your field.
Money is another huge issue for a majority of people. Maybe your parents paid for your college or maybe you had to work through college and had to take out a lot of loans in order to make it through those years. Either way it's important to be smart about money so that after college you aren't as stressed about paying your bills. During college it's so easy to go out and spend $50 on drinks and food and before you know it all the money you saved is gone. What I suggest is every time you get a pay check or get money, you should put a percentage of it aside. Usually 20% is a good amount but the more the better. This will really help to have this money incase of an emergency, lack of employment or any other issues you may come to face. Avoid spending the money you save by keeping it at home, or putting it in a bank account and leaving the card to access it at home so you aren't tempted while you are out shopping.
Make lists. I find my favorite way to get organized is to write down everything I have to do. I currently am doing this with graduate schools. Making an excel spreadsheet can also help. Write down schools (or jobs) and all the requirements for them, costs, location and make a pro/con list. Ranking them will also help when the time comes to make a decision if you have multiple schools you were accepted to or have multiple job offers.
Know that things will fall into place over time. Of course you can't just sit on your ass and hope that it all works out. You have to work for the things you want in life, but if you do work hard everything else will fall into place. You don't have to know exactly what you want to do but make sure whatever you are doing is helping you get to where you want to be. It's okay to not know exactly what you want to do. Explore, experience and enjoy the different parts of life and before you know it you will find where you want to be. Without having different experiences how will you ever know what you do and don't like? So take a fun elective in an area you're interested in, travel and do something that scares you because you may discover something you never thought you wanted.