It's graduation season so first, CONGRATULATIONS to the Class of 2015! Your days of papers, exams, all-nighters and cram sessions are over (for now) and you're faced with the daunting challenge of: "The Real World" (whatever that is). With every graduation, I can't help but reflect on my life after college and how I wish I was a little bit more prepared than I was. To go from living at home with my parents to being solely responsible for myself was (and still is) a little scary, but gets easier with time the more I learn.
A college degree will teach you the necessities in your field, ie: the difference between Freud's and Erikson's theories of development (if you're a Psychology major) but they don't teach you the real nitty gritty of what it's like to be on your own. They don't tell you that the average graduate will not land their dream job, with their dream company, working the dream schedule on the first try. College gives you just enough to get you out the door and the rest of your life is up to you.
To all the recent graduates, life after college can seem scary and stressful, but also can be fun and exciting, IF you allow it to be. These next few years will be a challenge, but it will be a challenge worth experiencing. I can personally attest to that fact. Because I love to see the people after me, do better than me, below I have listed some tips that I believe colleges should have told you, but probably didn't, and hopefully some will be of use to you:
I'm an avid reader, so for obvious reasons, this deserves a spot at the top of my list. They beat "reading is fundamental" in our heads from age 5, but it becomes even more important after graduation. The biggest downfall I see with people my age is that they believe once school is done, they've learned everything they need to know. SPOILER ALERT: Your education is NEVER done, there is always something to be learned and something to discuss and books are the best source for that information. There's nothing worst than being the typical millennial with nothing to talk about other than what's on TV. I highly suggest a least a book a month, especially a book in your industry or field so you can stay on your game.
The years after college are the best times to flex up your connections and build your network. As the age old saying goes: "It's not what you know, but who you know", and who you know can open a slew of doors for you that you would not be able to open on your own. Trust me when I say you will meet some GREAT people after college and those people will introduce you to other great people and so on. Networking allows you to stay connected and engaged with people in your industry and to learn from experienced experts in your field. Spend some time on this one, a solid network will take some time to build, but will be well worth it later on.
Tip: Thursdays are popular days for Happy Hours after work. Keep a red lip and a comfortable pair of heels near by for a quick change from day to night.
3. EXPLORE & BE A LOCAL
If you've moved to a new city (or even back home from college), get out there and explore! Take some time to truly get to know the city and all that it has to offer. I believe that every city has it's hidden gems and places that make it truly special and unique and you'll only find them if you take the time to look. Go to your local bar and meet some new people. Check out the weekend section in your city's newspaper for things happening around town. Hit up a new restaurant or two and sample some things on the menu. Check out www.meetup.com and get together with some like-minded people. Join a book club. I think you understand what I'm saying here right?
4. HANDLE YOUR DEBT & FINANCES
The 6 month grace period to pay back your loans will come and go and before you know it, you'll enter into repayment. I HIGHLY suggest you have a plan before this happens. Trust me, handle this now. I am no finance expert but I know some people who are. Check out these resources I find helpful and get yourself together.
- Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey
- Smart Women Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security & Funding Your Dreams by David Bach
Note: There are plenty of resources out there on the topic of money however I can only post those ones that I personally vouch for.
5. STAY OPEN AND TRUST THE PROCESS
I live on the belief, that what's for me is for me, and what's for you, will be for you. I say that because during this period of life after college, everything might not make sense immediately. The idea that you have in your head of what life should be, might not be what life actually is, and that's okay. Understand that you do not have to have it all figured out right now, and that also is okay. So keep an open mind. You will make mistakes, but you'll survive and you'll eventually get it right. Until then, sit down, shut up and enjoy life after college and everything that it brings.
If I missed any major tips, please list below! I'd love to hear what worked for you and different points of views of life after college.