Commencement is the time to celebrate the 4+ years and thousands of dollars you spent to get a piece of paper. Everyone is full of hope and excitement for the future. Commencement speeches are inspirational, but not very realistic. These are the things I wish someone would have told me when I was graduating.
1. You’ll get rejected.
You have the work experience, and you have the education, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get the interview. Sometimes you don’t even get the rejection email. You’re just discarded. Or sometimes you get the rejection email several months later.
2. You’ll feel disheartened.
After applying for the 50th job in your field, you definitely start to have some self-esteem issues.
3. You’ll contemplate going back to school.
Can’t find a job? Don’t know what to do next? Why not go back to school where you feel comfortable and safe. Spend several more thousands of dollars for the chance at getting a better job later.
4. You’ll compromise your high standards and start applying for entry-level or menial jobs that are definitely beneath you.
The bills are starting to pile up, and you start to realize money is money. And you have to earn it somewhere, even if it means working as a barista until you find something better.
5. You’ll feel lost.
School was a very structured time. Sure there were parties and friends and booze, but you also had classes and tests. Now you’re falling out of touch with your friends, and you no longer have to wake up at 6:00 for that 7:30 a.m. class. All that time daydreaming about graduation and life after school feels like a joke.
6. You’ll apply for more internships.
You think you can get more experience and broaden your resume, but all you are doing is someone else’s job for free. When your internship is over, they’ll just hire some other poor sucker to do the same job for free. This realization just hardens your anger.
7. Some of your friends will get jobs right away and will wonder what your problem is.
Yeah you have that great degree in engineering. I spent just as much money molding my mind and creativity with my liberal arts degree. Corporate America isn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying to get paid.
8. You’ll accept something less.
After a while, you start to think that maybe you aren’t better than that minimum wage job, and you start justifying that you’re fine where you are. This doesn’t last long. Don’t worry.
9. You’ll have a renewed sense of optimism.
Eventually, you come full circle and remember why you started this process and went to school in the first place. You’ll feel drive and passion, and the negativity from others won’t affect you.
10. You will learn a lot.
In the six months after graduation, you’ll learn more about yourself and your friendships than you learned the entire time you were in school. You’ll learn who your true friends are, who will support you, and who to let go.