After so much hard work, graduation is a wonderful celebration. For about an hour. And then the nostalgia, and the sadness sets in. And for many, so does the fear.
Having been through it a few times, I have some tips:
1. Open your mind to the possibilities. Ask yourself not just what you want to do, but what all the possibilities are. Don’t limit yourself to what you think is possible based on your degree or experience. Remember that you’re in a world full of possibilities and opportunities and consider everything that you think you might enjoy. Even if you end up in a job that you kind of like but don’t want to do forever, you will still be getting experience of some sort, and experience is always good.
2. Take it one day at a time. Life post graduation is overwhelming. There are so many things to do, to think about and to handle when you’re not in the protective environment of college (you know, when you know where your next meal is coming from?). Not only do you have to figure out the workforce, and paying back loans, but you have to figure out how to take care of yourself on every level. And that’s not just living, but probably also paying your own health insurance and things of that nature. But the best way to stay sane with a sudden influx of responsibilities is to take it one day at a time. Perhaps try a to do list. Do whatever you have to do to keep from getting overwhelmed.
3. Don’t get too frustrated with the questions. The question that you got used to during school was “What’s your major?” But that question had far less pressure associated with coming up with an answer. Chances are if you said “I don’t know” no one would judge you. But after college everyone asks you, “What are you planning to do now?” and “I don’t know” is met with unsolicited advice. Try not to get too frustrated with the question, and try to have some type of answer ready. Sound sure. “I’ve sent out a ton of applications!” is better than “I don’t know” for avoiding the panic and the unsolicited advice.
4. Have what you need ready, and keep track of deadlines. If you’re seeking internships, or jobs, or graduate education, keep track of what you need and of deadlines. Have a planner with the deadline for every application on it, have a resume or a CV or head shots or whatever you need ready not just for those applications, but for the stuff you find out about last minute. Don’t panic, but be as prepared as possible.
5. Enjoy it. While this whole list was probably as stressful as the unsolicited advice mentioned in #3, there is still a lot that is great about being in this position. The world is your oyster as long as you stay calm, be patient, and focus on the possibilities.