It’s that time of year again, Graduation Season! As thousands upon thousands of students countdown to that day when they too will don their cap and gowns to walk across that absurdly long stage and take those first initial steps into “adult-hood” and all the opportunities to go out and concur the world; to make a difference and to be successful.
This May being my 5th anniversary from graduating from University.I can’t help but wonder if I was ever so innocently optimistic?
What have I learned since then? What would I tell those who are preparing to leave school and the realities they are bound to face?
1. Don’t rush into furthering your education (Graduate-level) right away: It is not that I don’t support more education, because really nothing can be further from the truth, the fact still stands that unless you are going to Med-school or Law school (which may not be such a smart move either) will only put in you in debt with no work prospects. There are tons of people with advance degrees who can’t find work in their prospective fields who are stuck working whatever job they can find just to keep there heads above water and a great majority of them are barely managing to even do that! So my advice is to put it off for a while and look into starting a career first because there are still some companies that offer tuition reimbursement and/or training that you would need to grow in your career.
Being social at the work place….
2. Learn Business Etiquette: Trust me on this, no matter what field you are in or what you are doing, learning how to appropriately communicate and interact with your co-workers and superiors (both written and spoken) is the Number #1 rule for succeeding in the work place. In Corporate America, even if you work for yourself, your not moving up that ladder unless people take you seriously and they LIKE you!
I can’t even begin to tell the amount of times I have had to tell co-workers (my age and some younger) that Yo’ is not a greeting, emails don’t begin with Hey and now is not the right time to have a loud ass discussion about that party you went too last night! (Don’t laugh! It happens!) There are tons of online resources that will teach you the basics of how to write emails, memos, minutes, slides etc. and they are all FREE! so there is no reason to not do your research and save your self some aggravation and start your career with your best foot forward.
Speaking of jobs…
3. If you managed to land a job realize that you are lucky to have one, no matter how much it sucks: I get it, you have just spent all of that money getting your degree and the last thing you imagined yourself doing was working at the supermarket, mall, movie theater etc. The moments when you hear “Where is the restroom?”, “Can you make that a Large?” or “I need you to order my lunch.” make your eyes roll and lead to drink away your misery.
But guess what? you have a job! Your making money and you are getting out of house! And trust me after spending almost five months unemployed I was all too happy to get that job working in retail for the holiday season and so should you be!
Making it Work…
4. Have a Plan A and figure out how to make your present situation work towards that plan: So your working the sucky job but have dreams of owning your own business/writing/acting etc. It is all about making where you are right now work for where you want to go. All those hours you spend sitting at your desk doing virtually nothing, start doing some research about what you would rather be doing, start writing that great novel in between calls or start a blog *wink-wink*. In retail and wanting to act: start playing with character development while your on the sales floor, change your accent, start quoting lines from your favorite movies at the register!
Not only does this make your day more interesting for you but allow yourself to work towards your Plan A and still make the money you need to survive.
5. There is no shame living within your means: Financial literacy is what your quality of life will be built on because there is nothing worse than worrying over money. It will affect your relationships, family planning, career, health etc. And is one of those things that is never too early to learn. If your lucky enough to have family that will continue to support you, take advantage of it! Even if that means living at home for a while, not buying rounds at the bar for all of your friends and getting those $300 shoes.
And if your friends try to laugh about you still living at home and being on a budget just let them know that when they start worrying about their credit card bills you will be laugh all the way to bank! And get you some like minded friends, on time, who are trying to something with themselves!
If you get the chance…
6. If you can swing it, Travel: While you are still young and free from significant commitments see the world, not only will you get the chance to learn more about others but you will definitely come back (if you decide to come back) knowing yourself a whole lot more.
There are tons of opportunities to go abroad and work/volunteer, like Teaching English in Asia or doing Eco work in the Andes and you will never regret the experience and the stories you will have for a lifetime. If you do decide to go, a word or two of caution; do research about the country you are looking to visit; not only touristy spots and night life but the political climate as well. Also just because your traveling/working abroad doesn’t mean you can ignore your financial commits back home (ie: Student Loans) make sure you work out a plan to continue making payments on those while you frolic over seas.
It is important to remember that there will be surprises, break-ups, let-downs, laughter, tears and tantrums along the way. But just take a deep breath and live in the moment you are in now!