I can’t believe it’s been two years since I graduated college. It took me a little bit longer than expected to get to where I am, but I couldn’t be happier.
When I wrote my first post on FTS about my thoughts on being a new college grad, I analyzed it with Psychology’s “Five Stages of Grief”. So, being an (ahem) more mature alum, here’s what I’ve learned in surviving the first couple of years:
1. Unless you’re in business or engineering or going to grad school, you may not get your “dream job” right away (or a job, for that matter)
The job market still sucks. It took me a little over a year to find my first job, which I found on Twitter. Work with what skills you have, revamp your resume, and just apply to any job. It may not be your top choice, but it’s a job with a real salary and the experience will eventually pay off. And on that note…
2. Get experience anywhere
When I wasn’t hearing back from any of the companies I applied to, I decided to go a different route. I got an internship at a public relations firm; although it was unpaid and the company was downsizing when I completed my intern duties, the experience was incredibly worthwhile, as it led me to my current job. I took a stab at retail for the next four months and worked my way to customer service skills, which helps when interacting with clients. I also had a published essay in a Chicken Soup For The Soul-type book, ironically on what to do while waiting for a job. I thought that would be my big break, but I had to wait two more months for my prime opportunity to come knocking.
It’s likely that your first job out of school is not going to be your dream job. And when your ideal job isn’t ready when you are, get as much experience in that field as you can. One of the biggest things (that I’ve found) you can do in any field is social media management—almost every company has a website (or if it doesn’t, it needs one!) Create Facebook and Twitter pages for a company or brand and keep its web presence updated. Great people skills and great social media skills will (eventually) lead to one amazing job.
3. Living at home your first year (or two) is really not that bad
My first year at home was rough. Commuting to work everyday and relying on the train schedule is hard when you want to stay out late on weekend nights but you don’t have a place to stay. Add the fact that you have to watch your limit when out socializing because there’s a chance you’ll have to drive home. But, there are major positives—like not having to pay rent/utilities, free laundry and groceries/meals, and that you’re saving a ton of money for an amazing new pad once you fly the coop.
4. FOMO is a real thing at the beginning, but you get used to it
I went back to my alma mater last year for Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s definitely a different experience being an alumna. You get to relive your college years, but then you realize that you have to go to work on Monday and be a real person. The same thing happened when I moved my brother into his apartment this past year—I went out with his friends and to a house party, and blended right in with the rest of the students. (And I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing…)
Tweets and Facebook posts of current students make FOMO a definite thing, but you’re much older now that you can do classy things like work happy hours, Sunday brunches and casual bar outings without getting completely smashed.
5. Friends may come and go, but keep those who are really worth having an actual face-to-face conversation
Take a look at your Facebook friend list. How many of them do you really know? Maybe you friend requested that one girl for a history assignment or that one boy who you maybe said “hi” to once in your freshman year dorm but then never spoke to again. Get on that purge and you’ll feel so much better (and not as old as you think you are!) and find those that are really worth your time.
6. Live your life and know when it’s time to move on
You’ll never forget “the best four years” of your life, ever; it lives on when you’re old and grey and passing stories along to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The little things are going to give you major FOMO, especially this time of year, but the major accomplishment is that you’re a college grad who’s going to get an amazing job and lead and amazing life. Trust me, you don’t want to be “that guy” or “that girl” who sticks around as an “8th year senior”. Good luck!