8 Grads on What You Should Know About Life Post-College

8 Grads on What You Should Know About Life Post-College

If you’re a senior, you’re probably freaking out at how fast graduation is approaching. Before you know it, you’ll be wearing a cap and gown and taking an endless amount of pictures with friends. But there’s a lot to know before walking the stage. What do I want to do after graduation? Where do I want to live? How do I land my dream job? What am I going to do without my best friends? Seniors, you’re probably having a lot of worries about graduation and what to with your life after college. Worry no more. Recent graduates shared some wise words of advice to those of you getting ready to graduate. Keep reading to get the post-graduation life advice needed to get you through the end of the semester and onward.

“Not everything is going to fall into place right away.”

I think my advice would be that not everything is going to fall into place right away but that’s okay! It takes time to love your job and settle into the ‘adult world,’ but in a few years, you’ll look back and be grateful for all of the decisions you make that will lead to your dream job or moving to a new city or taking a new leap! Things take time and you’re always going to be doing just fine.” — Lauren Gaynor, Michigan State University class of 2015 

“Utilize all of the connections you have.”

“The most important thing about life after graduation is to utilize all of the connections you have. Speak to your mentors. Listen to your elders about their experiences and try to learn from them. Go out of your comfort zone and go for the job that seems intimidating—you might surprise yourself and get the job you’ve always wanted.” — Callie Chambers Bradley University class of 2017 

“It’s OK to feel overwhelmed when starting your first job.”

“It’s OK to feel overwhelmed when starting your first job. Your new co-workers know you’re new and don’t expect you to already know everything. Ask questions. And don’t be afraid to ask the same question multiple times if you can’t remember the answer. Also, go to the office happy hours. You spend half your waking life with your co-workers. You might as well make some friends! Go out of your way to maintain friendships from high school and college. Now that you’re not home from breaks at the same time or living in the same city anymore it’s a lot harder to spend time with friends. Even if that means driving an hour to get lunch or to see a movie. Time spent with the people you love and people who make you happy is always time well spent.” — Dee Moore Bradley University class of 2015 

“When you graduate, no one knows what they’re doing.”

“Post-grad life is almost like college repeating itself. You go to school knowing no one and having no clue what you’re doing. Then, you realize everyone’s in the same boat, you bond over it, become friends, and go off on your great adventure. When you graduate, no one knows what they’re doing, and everyone’s down to make more friends. Getting involved in intramural leagues, classes, professional groups or alumni organizations is an awesome way to meet more people going through the same things as you are.” — Faith Barker Bradley University class of 2016

“It might take a little more time for you, but you’ll find your way.”

“I would make it a point to savor every single moment. It’s like Andy Bernard says in The Office: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.’ Never again in your life are you going to be living in the same neighborhood as all your friends and seeing them every day, so make the most of it while you can. Success is relative, and everybody is on their own path. Some people approach graduation with all their friends having great jobs lined up and everything figured out, and that may be true, but don’t let it get to you. It might take a little more time for you, but you’ll find your way. In the meantime, congratulate yourself for graduating college! It took a lot of hard work to get to where you are.” — Nora Trapp Bradley University class of 2017 

“Remember that everyone is feeling the same way you are.”

“I wish I had known how truly amazing being in college is. As kids, we’re always so desperate to grow up, have jobs, and be on our own. College affords you the freedom to be on your own, grow as a person, and become who you are without the true responsibility of adulthood. And it’s honestly so fun! I wish I had known how hard it is to really establish yourself in the real world. Simple things like making friends and keeping a clean apartment are so much more challenging when working 40 hours a week. It’s exhausting. 

I wouldn’t be so eager to move on. I think if I could do it over, I’d spend more time being happy and less time worrying about the future. Because the future comes regardless of if you talk about constantly or not, so why give it the power to destroy the present moment? I would definitely hang out with my friends more instead of doing homework (because honestly, nobody in my office cares if I aced your Econ final or got a C).  Obviously, don’t fail, but also don’t worry your semester away on grades that really don’t mean anything once you enter the real world.

It’s hard. I know everyone says that, but it’s the truth. One thing college does not prepare you for is the shift from being in class four hours a day (if that) to working from 9 a.m. t0 6 p.m. It’s tiring and it sucks, and sometimes you can’t leave your bed at 7 p.m. So my advice for you now is to do the opposite of what everyone tells you to do: don’t rush to find just any job. Find the right job. Your career should be about more than just money. Find a company culture you can stand behind and co-workers who will treat you nicely and fairly. The world is a hard place, but going into an office you love can make it a little bit easier. Know your worth and that you bring value to an organization and shoot for your actual dreams. Everyone has to start somewhere, but try to make that somewhere a place you are respected, trusted, and wanted.

Remember that everyone is feeling the same way you are. Even the most put together people have no idea what they’re doing. Make decisions, follow them wholeheartedly, and see what happens. If you mess up, you have the power to change it. Nothing is permanent. You make your own path. It’s scary, but if you’re a good person who puts good out into the world, goodness will come back to you.” — Amanda Dacks Bradley University class of 2017 

“Embrace this new chapter.”

“I wish I had known how hard it would be to keep friendships after college. Once there’s a distance between you and life gets in the way, you really have to work to maintain the relationships with the people that matter to you. And of course, it’s okay to let go of some people, too. It’s all a part of growing up and becoming a real adult. If I had to do my last semester over again, I would have spent more time appreciating and exploring my college town more. Sure, I spent three years there, but there was so much I hadn’t seen, so many places I hadn’t eaten at or adventures I never went on. If I was to go back, I would pack in more of those adventures. The advice I have for those about to graduate is to embrace this new chapter. If they’re headed to graduate school like I was, I would encourage them to really branch out and stay open-minded about all of the new experiences and people coming their way. Life has so much to offer! Good and bad it’s all part of the journey and college is only a blip.” — Shannon Merceron University of Florida class of 2017 

“Take a deep breath.”

“One thing I wish I knew before graduating was how many opportunities cease ones you get your degree. There were so many job opportunities and internships that were particularly only allowing students to apply. It was hard to realize that my interning days were over, and I really wish I had started earlier in my college career. Even as a freshman! If I could do my last semester over again, I would be a little more social. I spent so many hours working, only to come home and study. There are so many connections that are critical to make, whether it’s professors who know you personally and support your dreams, or even friends who end up moving far away. 

Some advice I would give to those graduating is to take a deep breath! Often after college, we are expected to rush right into our dream career now that we have a degree. Things don’t always work out on that timeline, and that’s okay. Work that part-time job still. Save that money! Know that your dream job will come to you at the right time. And when it does, fight for it with all you’ve got.” — Jazzmin Martinez Humboldt State University class of 2017

Have any great post-grad life advice you think seniors should know about? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Featured photo by @maesonelizabeth.