You expect your four (or five) years in college to be the time you make mistakes, learn about yourself, and ultimately pave the way to enter into the real world. In college, you will take classes that will provide you with the tools and tips for entering adulthood – budgeting 101, contract negotiations, networking, etc. so that once you graduate you will have a good foundation for being able to support yourself and take the first step towards your career. If you’re starting to wonder what college I went to, you should know that the only tool I proudly mastered in college was sarcasm.
Don’t get me wrong; college was the best four years of my life – but not in the ways I thought it would be. Although I have enough stories to last me the rest of my life, I was also not a lazy student. I am a proud type-A, overachiever who expected high school and college to give me the building blocks and resume builders that would send me right into the career of my dreams. So when the parties were over and I had received my college diploma I had zero expectation that I would not know what my next step in my life was.
I’m not going to put it lightly – when you graduate college, there’s this transition period that, especially for a type-A like myself, is earth-shattering. For your entire life up to this point you’ve had a specific structure to follow – you go to school, you take your tests, you go on summer vacation (summer camps, internships, etc.) repeat. Once you’ve finished as much schooling as you can, you hit this wall of – what now? I wish I could blame my college for not preparing me for the real world but I’m pretty positive few universities actively prepare you for what to do once the textbooks are shut for good.
For me, I was quickly defeated. Like I said, I had not been lazy at any point in my life. I had enough job experience for three different careers and then some. So how had I, a freshly primed college graduate, ended up in a position where I didn’t know what my next move was? My mom would find me up at 5am researching the different industries I considered and what steps I needed to take in order to get there.
Disclaimer: there are no steps to success for whatever industry you choose unless you are fortunate enough to be interested in the careers of an accountant, lawyer, or doctor. Adjust to that now before you spend all day and night trying to Google it into existence.
I wish I could end this story saying that, after a lot of self-reflection, I had figured out the path I was going to take for the rest of my life. That three years post-college I am now finally on my way to being rich and successful. I can say, however, that three years later I am a lot more at ease with the idea that you will never have it all figured out and that’s ok. After asking every type of adult how I figure out the question of adulthood – what do I want to be when I grow up? – I concluded that no matter how successful or happy you never really figure it out. You will never find a job at being a full-time college student and that is a very hard thing to grasp, especially in those first few months post graduation.
What I recommend first is to relax. It will take some of your friends a week to find a job if they don’t already have one already. It will take others a year or more. If you take the first job that comes to you, fine. But I strongly stress that if you are unhappy in your job do not be afraid to leave. Worse, Do not get complacent in an unhappy job. Remember that, if you are not in the career you want, you are the only one who can change that. We are in an age where you can be whoever you want to be thanks to the magic of the Internet – start a blog, brand yourself on social media, join elance.com and gain experience in the things you enjoy doing. Continue to learn from others. READ. The world doesn’t stop moving and you shouldn’t either. Three years out, I still have very few friends who have found the job of their dreams. And with that, the job of your dreams is sometimes short lived. We are constantly changing and evolving as people and as a society. The things that are important to you and others now will likely not be important in 20 years, or even in three. Trust in the process of life and don’t get defeated. Continue to do the things you enjoy, the things that drive you, and you will find your way.