Graduating from college is such an exciting milestone. After earning our diplomas, there’s a whole brand new world out there ahead of us, one that’s equal parts exciting and daunting. On one hand, we’re filled with an entirely new sense of freedom: we’ve made it through the education system and landed on our feet, ready to make our mark in the real world. We can move to a new city or find a great job or hone a new skill (and there’s no more homework!).
On the other hand, we feel a sense of fear threatening to encroach on our good graduation vibes: from paying bills to finding a job we really love, we suddenly feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do, how much remains to be accomplished. Though we might feel overwhelmed by all that lies ahead, we think there’s value in taking things slowly by easing into the real world with patience and grace.
Check out some of our thoughts below, and chime in in the comments section with ways you’ve been able to transition into life after college.
ENJOY THE PROCESS
It can be challenging to even know where to start as we’re looking for jobs after graduation. We’ve always been taught that we can achieve any goal we aspire to fulfill, and while that encouragement is so helpful and valuable, it can also set us up with expectations that are just a bit too high.
While it’s true that we can (and will!) do anything we dream about doing, it’s inevitably going to take time (and lots of hard work) to reach our goals. The end result won’t just fall into our laps; we have to work hard to make our dreams become our realities. So instead of becoming intimidated by all that lies ahead, let’s try to enjoy each step of the way. Let’s practice gratitude for the small stepping-stones that shape our characters and prepare us for the future. Let’s celebrate little victories and revel in the small things that help bring us one step closer to achieving our goals. Let’s treat our selves on the days that we finish a project or come to the aid of a coworker or make our boss swell with pride as a result of our work.
Let’s enjoy the process and find joy in the skills that we learn along the way.
WALK THROUGH OPEN DOORS
We’re often presented with opportunities that don’t necessarily sound like the perfect fit for our lives. Instead of turning away from these chances, let’s take a minute to contemplate them and the positive effect they could have on our journeys.
When I graduated from Pepperdine University, my mentor set up several interviews to help me find a full-time job. While I appreciated the effort he put into orchestrating these opportunities, many of the job roles were not in my field of interest. However, I attended the interviews anyway and found immense value in walking through the open doors that were made available to me. I gained valuable skills by participating in these interviews and found connections that ultimately led me to another job, one that made me come alive in ways I never dreamed possible.
But I wouldn’t have found that job if I hadn’t walked through numerous doors beforehand. I had to put in the time and the effort and, ultimately, I had to trust the process. I had to have faith that if I kept moving, then the right opportunity would land in my path. Instead of remaining stagnant and still, I needed to be in motion and approach opportunities in stride, regardless of whether or not I viewed them as the perfect fit for my life.
The process reminded me that I truly didn’t know what was best for me; instead, I needed to embrace the wild ride I was on and realize that there was so much goodness in store, more than I could ever have planned for myself.
COLLECT NEW SKILLS
While we may dream of being a top player in our field of interest, it will take us time to get to exactly where we want to be. So in the meantime, we can work on honing skills that will equip us to achieve our goals. It’s a fact of life that at some point or another we will get stuck in a job that isn’t exactly what we’d hoped it would be, so we need to find unconventional ways to learn and stretch and grow while we’re there.
Instead of focusing on the things we dislike about a particular season or job role, let’s identify ways in which our current status can help prepare us for the future. Let’s embrace a less-than-ideal job by utilizing our time in productive ways: by forming great relationships with our coworkers, by learning a new skill, by making new contacts in our industry, by demonstrating that we can keep our chins up even when things aren’t perfect. All of these things will help shape us into the adults we were meant to become, ultimately paving the way for success in future roles that will lead us to our dream job.
Where do you find encouragement when you’re in a job that’s less than perfect? What tips do you have for transitioning from college to the real world?
This piece originally appeared on Darling Magazine.