For many college students, the time leading up to and immediately following graduation is both the most exciting and most stressful period they’ll ever experience.
On the one hand, it’s finally over – but now the rest of life kicks in.
It’s far from impossible to make this transition, though; below you’ll find some of the most important tips to get a handle on things as you leave the university bubble.
Use all your resources to find a job
Getting a job is, in many ways, harder than ever.
As you enter a full-blown job search, you might send out dozens of resumes and be met with a sea of rejections – or nothing.
But you must use all of your resources instead of passively sending in applications during your job search.
This means following up on each resume you submit and (ideally) getting in contact with someone at the company.
Or better yet: Explore your connections as best you can. Yes, networking can be difficult, but it’s still one of the most effective ways to get a job.
Talk to family and friends, students and alumni, professors, and even former co-workers. You’ll be surprised at what might turn up that you wouldn’t have found any other way.
Be open – and seem flexible
Having a successful – and less stressful – job search is also a matter of mindset.
One thing to keep in mind: Your first job might not be squarely within your field or major, and that’s okay.
It may very well be that you become interested in a different field entirely, and it’s important to be ready for that and open to giving new things a shot.
Don’t be afraid to apply to jobs in tangentially related fields, and be flexible in how you describe your undergraduate experiences to demonstrate how they might apply to other fields.
Get control of your schedule
Beyond the job search, another major aspect of the real world is that it doesn’t operate on a student schedule.
In general, a job will be five days a week, and you’ll be expected to be on time every day – you can’t roll in 15 minutes late like for a college class.
It’s also important that you work efficiently and manage your time well.
While putting things off usually won’t break you in college, it could get you in trouble at a job – so learn how to beat procrastination.
Finally, be ready for the fact that you don’t get as long of vacation breaks at a job, especially when you’re just starting out. Make sure you use your free time well and strategically use what vacation time you’re given.
Be ready to let go – but maintain your most important relationships
Life after college can get lonely – so it’s important you stay in contact with the people that matter most to you.
Some acquaintances and friends will grow distant, but you should know who your close friends and confidants are and visit, Skype, or call them as often as is reasonable.
Older modes of communication work, too: You might be surprised at what a good feeling you get from receiving letters or emails that are exclusively personal.
As you transition out of having friends all around you, you’ll realize which of those relationships are truly meaningful – and you’ll want to maintain them through this very trying time.
Learn the practical skills college didn’t prepare you for
Finally, find ways to practice the practical life skills college doesn’t give you courses on – before you graduate, if possible.
This includes the more obvious things like budgeting, cooking for yourself, mending clothing, and cleaning, of course.
But you should also get used to communicating with many kinds of people and personalities.
You can choose your friends in college, but at a job you have less choice – you might have to work closely with people who are substantially different from you, so be willing and able to relate to them.
The transition from college to the real world is among the most difficult stages of your life, by far.
But it’s not impossible – and as long as you have a plan to address at least a few of the challenges ahead of you, you’re already in great shape.
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