Many college students have anxiety when thinking about what will happen after they graduate from college. Recent grads experience a lot of changes during their first year after college. Yes, a lot may change, but you can get through it like how many of the grads before you have. Life After College is just another transition process, you’ll get the hang of it eventually.
You might not get your dream job right away.
Don’t be discouraged if you are struggling to find a job you love! Many recent grads are in your shoes, especially now more than ever. There are even those that still don’t know what they want to do after college.
That is okay too. This is the time for exploration because you have your whole life ahead of you. Take your time and try out different things until you find out what you are passionate about.
Try not to compare yourself to your friends when you see them posting about their new jobs or achievements. We all have our own lives and paths. You will eventually get to your destination.
Networking is significantly more likely to get you in the door than applying for jobs.
How many jobs have you applied for and still haven’t got a call back from? It’s usually a lot for many. Surprisingly, many employers don’t even list job applications sometimes and look for recommendations from people they know.
That’s why you need to get out there and start networking. It’s common to have fears of cold calling or messaging people, but this is the first step to introducing yourself to someone that could have a huge impact on your life.
If you really want something, you shouldn’t let your fears hold you back. You never know, that connection could have introduced you to someone that works at your dream company. The more you do this, the easier it will get. But the important thing is following up.
Don’t just cold call people and let that connection fall apart. You have to keep checking in every now and then to build the connection.
You definitely want to do the prep work first before reaching out to people. It helps to calm you down when you come prepared with topics and questions to talk about. And don’t right out ask for a job or for them to be your mentor.
You have to build a relationship and get to know each other. Overtime, you’ll realize that some people actually take the initiative to want to be your mentor. Those are great people that could help you with your job journey and advocate for you.
Your friend group will change.
You may decide to move back home with your parents or elsewhere for a job. Your friends’ lives might change too. With any major life change, you might experience changes to your friend groups.
This is probably one of the most difficult for many because now you have to go search for new friends. You might be lonely for a while, so learning to enjoy your own company becomes more important. Some friends will still make the effort to keep in touch, so make sure to treasure those friends.
And in general, it will just be harder to maintain friendships. You will have to make more effort in reaching out to people because your friends won’t all live close to you anymore. Many will be going back to their hometowns or moving across the world to start new lives.
Related article: How to Navigate the Post-College Identity Crisis
Your budget will need adjustments and you will need to increase your financial knowledge.
After college, you may come to the realization that you might not have spent your money very wisely and now you have to add extra expenses like student loans. It becomes increasingly important to know how to budget your money and build your emergency savings now more than ever. There could be some unexpected expenses and having enough money to cover them should be a priority.
It is recommended to have 3 to 6 months of emergency savings before you start paying off huge amounts of debt and investing. You don’t want to go further into debt when you are hit with an unexpected expense.
Another thing that will help you is increasing your financial knowledge. Many schools do not make it mandatory to take a personal finance course which would be beneficial to many young people as they transition into the real world.
So many financial mistakes could be prevented if there were such required courses. This means that you would need to structure time to learn how retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, etc. works.
Adjusting to new responsibilities (a.k.a. adulting)
You’ll have to figure out how to do things that your parents always did for you while you were growing up. It’s important to ask for help and research information before jumping right into things without any knowledge of what you are getting yourself into. Your new responsibilities could include signing up for health insurance through your new employer if you are not on your parent’s plan, getting a retirement account, filling out legal documents, paying more of your own bills, etc.
As you get older, you’ll have to do more and more unexpected things on your own. It’s okay to call and ask for help. These tasks will get easier for you over time.
Your daily routine will change.
Your time won’t be as flexible as your college days. No more staying up all night binge watching your favorite TV shows because you have to get up early for work. The traditional work week is 40 hours and usually 9 to 5.
That doesn’t leave much time in the evenings to do what you need to do before you have to go to sleep. So time becomes more valuable and shouldn’t be wasted on just binge watching tv shows or surfing the internet. You’ll have less time to complete your daily responsibilities like cleaning, cooking, shopping for essentials, and engaging in your hobbies.
Sometimes you have to take the non-traditional pathway to get to your destination.
You might not get the job you want at the moment or be able to do what you want to do. Instead of getting discouraged and thinking you won’t get anywhere. You can take baby steps and create S.M.A.R.T. goals to get to where you want to go.
What are the small and realistic steps you can take now that could lead you to where you want to go? This could mean working in a job that shares similar skill sets to the job that you want, enrolling in some professional certificate programs, volunteering with organizations to learn those skills, networking with those who are where you want to be, or teaching yourself through books and online webinars, and many other ways.
More work means more self-care.
Burnout is real in the work world. You might have experienced a lot of this in college. In the workplace, you could get assigned difficult projects or work overtime to complete all of the tasks.
You’ll have to check in with your mental and physical health often to know what you can and cannot handle. You are not your job and you should not be working until you fall apart. Companies can easily replace their workers, so you should not sacrifice your health. Take that vacation that you were given!
If you get too overwhelmed, you can use a sick day and use that time to take care of your mental health. Don’t feel guilty about using sick days.
There are many changes in your career, social life, responsibilities, and finances after you graduate. So many other young people are trying to figure out where to go. It may seem like all your friends have their lives figured out, but there’s always some area people feel like they’re not complete in.
You are not in a competition with anyone else. You are creating your own journey. So slow down and breathe. You got this!