It’s been AGES since I’ve written on my blog and for that, I apologize. Adulthood hits you hard and fast and before you know it you’re halfway across the country with your husband and child filing taxes and figuring out how to make a budget. I’m getting ahead of myself, let me explain why I’m writing this.
Three months ago I graduated from college. I took a gap year (for personal reasons mentioned in previous posts) so I was a bit older than most of the graduates and thought I was well prepared for “adulthood” as I’d already had a child and husband. I didn’t realize how much more there was for me to learn. With that in mind, I thought I’d pinpoint the top five things I’ve learned as a post-grad (and PR Professional) and share them in hopes of preparing other soon-to-be graduates for “adulthood”.
That feeling of “now what” after graduation is completely normal!
I already had a job lined up when I graduated so most people might have assumed I didn’t experience this but that’s completely untrue. Whether it hits you right before graduation, right after, or even months later when you’ve started your new job, it’s completely normal. We’ve spent most of our lives being told to do well in high school so we can go to college. Go to college and do well so we can graduate and get jobs. Most people don’t guide us much beyond that point.
So unless you’re going to grad school, it’s a strange feeling to settle into your life after college, whether you’ve just begun your dream job, have decided to travel abroad, or are still figuring out your plans. Remember you’ve achieved a major milestone and what you do with your life is now completely up to you. That kind of freedom can be scary but it’s a good thing.
Despite how many years you spent studying your profession you will still have a lot to learn in your first job.
I was a pretty good student during my last few years of college and by the time I’d graduated I felt confident that I’d be able to glide into my new job with ease. I survived the stress of my last semester of college by reminding myself that I’d soon be in my new job and things would be a lot easier. However, once I actually began that job I quickly realized I had a lot to learn. Becoming a part of a team, learning internal processes, learning how to communicate with clients and most importantly becoming confident in my own knowledge and skills were all just the beginning (to think I thought all of this would be easier).
The beginning of your career is much like freshman year of college. You’re meeting so many people, soaking in so much knowledge and learning about yourself each and every day. You couldn’t have convinced me three months ago that three months later I’d be THIS into Fintech and listening to cryptocurrency podcasts on the train to work. You’d be surprised at just how much more there is to learn, not only about your profession but about yourself in those first few months after college. You’ll make mistakes and that’s completely ok. It’s just part of the process.
Spending time seriously thinking about your goals and things you’re passionate about will be crucial
This was important during college but only becomes more important after graduating because now is the time to make those dreams a reality. It’s easy to talk about the things you want to do but a totally different thing to spend each day actively working toward those goals. In college, your short-term focus is passing a class so that you can get the credits you need to graduate. Once you’ve accomplished that and have taken those next steps in life, the pressure to make those goals a reality becomes more apparent.
My first few weeks in my new job I had to take time to seriously sit and consider what my passions are and where I hoped to be in a year, five years or even 10 years down the road. You might find that your passions have completely changed or that you want to take a totally different an unexpected route but it’s important to at least sit and think about it (or even write it down). Knowing this will giving you guidance moving forward. If you’re unsure my advice is to pay attention to what you spend the most time talking about and thinking about and move forward from there. Even if it seems crazy, now is your chance to make it happen.
Finding balance is NOT easy!
When I was in college I somehow managed to balance finishing my last two years of college while raising a child and managing a marriage. At the time it felt like the hardest thing in the world but now I’m glad I was able to have that experience because it prepared me for what life would be like outside of college.
For traditional graduates who aren’t married with kids (and probably aren’t even thinking about it), this will be a challenge. Remember how you felt when you had multiple social events, several projects, multiple tests and a part-time job to juggle in college? That feeling won’t go away after college (at least not if you work in PR like I do.) Work/Life balance is VERY difficult. As a PR Professional especially, I found myself working constantly the first month. Even after I’d get off and come home I’d continue to work. I really had to learn from my senior-level colleagues and boss how to manage. To be honest I’m still learning but I’ve found it’s important to learn how to focus on the present. Work when you’re at work, relax when you’re not. Don’t overwork yourself! It sounds easy, but trust me in those first months when you’re trying to prove yourself it can be difficult.
Don’t expect to have everything figured out because that will NEVER happen. Ever.
When I was a student I used to see professionals who would come to speak in my classes and think to myself how successful they are and how inspired I was by all of the things they were doing. I’ve now realized, even in such a short amount of time, that part of “adulting” is figuring things out little by little. I see my superiors at work still sorting out doctor’s appointments and figuring out how to manage work. It made me realize this is something I’ll always be doing.
You will never have it all together. Even those who seem like they do, don’t. We are all learning day by day. Give yourself time to figure things out and when you feel like you’re stuck remember that you will never have everything figured out. As simple as it sounds remembering this will keep you sane (trust me).