No one teaches you how to live your life after you graduate from college. Professors teach you things that may or may not help you once you get a job in your desired field, but they don’t teach you how to get that job. They don’t teach you how hard it will be to get that job. They don’t teach you office etiquette and how to master sitting a cubicle all day long. They also don’t teach you how to save money after college graduation, or help you figure out where to live and how to let go of being supported by your parents.
Basically, when you graduate, you’re on your own. I guess that’s the real world though, right? Here are 5 important steps that may help you adjust to life after college.
1. If you can, move back home (for a few).
If you don’t want to grow up quite yet (I mean, who does?), moving back home is the perfect way to delay ‘the real world.’ Not to mention, you’ll be saving a ton of money that you probably don’t have. There are definitely times moving out right after college is okay: perhaps you received a job offer somewhere not close to your home, maybe you have the funds to move without a job offer, or maybe your parents don’t want you there. But ultimately, if you get a job offer near your home, you have a car/other mean(s) of transportation, and you can survive there for a few, suck it up and move back home.
2. Learn the difference between a job and an internship.
They are very different. Even though some companies use the word ‘internship‘ in the place of ‘real-job-that-we-just-aren’t-going-to-pay-you-for,’ when applying for a real job, it’s way more competitive than the intern selection process. You have to spend more time writing your cover letters. You have to spend more time adjusting your resume to match each job. And when it comes to the interview, you have to sound like you have 3-5 years of experience, even though you don’t. Then, when you do start working, you’re not going to have the guidance that you had at your internship. You can’t go around asking what to do anymore. You need to know what to do – even if that sometimes is nothing. You’ll find that you will teach yourself a lot and be expected to know more than you do. But don’t feel intimidated. No one knows – or cares – how old you are anymore. So take the chance to show how mature and smart you are. You’re a college grad after all!
3. Get over the fact that your job has no end date.
You should be happy you aren’t an intern or co-op anymore! If you weren’t getting paid, now you are (or will be… soon). And if you were already getting paid, you will probably get paid more. Oh, and you will now be recognized as a real person, instead of having people look down on you for being a silly little intern. You’re in the big leagues now. Anything can happen. Your current job can last forever or you can get laid off. You can get fired (although I really hope you won’t) or you can choose to leave your own job for another (or to, like, start your own farm or something). Your life is no longer based on that schedule called school, so be spontaneous and don’t fear commitment. Whatever happens, happens.
4. Be thankful for your family.
Obviously everyone’s situations are different, but whatever yours may be, learn to love your family. If you’re moving back home after college, be grateful you still have a room there and can get by with free food and no rent payments until you do decide to grow up. If your parents are willing to fund your ‘groovy lifestyle’ (Yes – that was a ‘Girls’ quote), take advantage. Don’t head home after college with a bad attitude. Don’t take out a bad interview or a rejection e-mail on your mom. Your parents just paid a ridiculous amount of money for you to get a piece of paper! And if they didn’t pay for it, at least they supported you along the way. As I’m sure you’ve seen from attending school for 16 years, friends come and go… but your family (fortunately or unfortunately) is going to be around forever. If you’re not living with them anymore, keep in touch. The worst thing you can do is fall off the grid after they just made your life happen for the past, like, 21/22 years. Be grateful.
5. Relax and have fun.
Just because college ended, doesn’t mean your life did too. Just because you can’t find a job yet, it doesn’t mean you never will. Just because you hate your job, it doesn’t mean you will be stuck there forever. Just because you’re working with adults who are married with children, it doesn’t mean you have to grow up twice as quickly and fast forward your life to that point too. You’re still young. You might not be in college anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drink on weeknights. It doesn’t mean you can’t have one night stands. It doesn’t mean you have to stop standing in long lines at clubs and start going to late dinners with friends ordering classy drinks. All it means is that you can now make money and not have to worry about papers and tests (unless you’re in grad school). Soon enough, you won’t be in your early twenties and you won’t be in your mid-twenties. You’ll be in your late twenties, possibly married thinking about having KIDS. So for now, you’ve got a bit of time until that all happens. Relax and enjoy it!