I’ve been a college graduate for just about four months. In that time, I have learned a lot about being a recent grad—hello, apartment hunting and figuring out insurance—and have also surprised myself with what I’ve accomplished.
Here are my biggest takeaways:
Don’t be intimidated by the endless possibilities.
The goal in college always seemed so simple: do well so that you can land a job after graduation. But the weight of that concept “get a job” didn’t truly sink in until a few weeks post-grad. For the past 21 years, there was always another grade, the next year, and a future step that was already planned out—and I had reached the end of that pre-drawn map.
While I chose to stay in the Lansing area, numerous friends went on to Chicago, Texas, even Seattle. For the first time in my life there were endless possibilities, which was both daunting and exhilarating all in one. Choosing the right path was up to me.
People want to help you.
Whether it’s in the job search or in the workplace, others do genuinely want to you to succeed. Network. Use connections. Learn from those with more experience to better yourself—something especially important for those just starting out in their chosen fields.
Would you like to learn more about a specific client project? Want to get more experience working with media or try your hand at graphic design? Asking is your first step. Those with 15 to 20 years of experience are a wealth of knowledge and they want to see you succeed. Don’t be nervous about reaching out.
There will be frustrations.
Don’t compare your post-grad journey to those of your peers. Everyone has different frustrations and successes after graduation. There are people who have been in the business for years and—especially in a relationship-centered industry like public relations—it can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that you don’t know a lot of people.
But I’ve learned you will get there. You won’t build a brand new network overnight and you won’t have close relationships with everyone in town over a few months. And that’s okay. Overcoming obstacles and frustrations shows strength you might not have even known you had.
Keep moving forward.
As cliché as it sounds, the only thing you can do is keep going. There are, have been and will be ups and downs in your work and personal life. But the only thing to do is learn from mistakes and do all you can to better yourself each day.
Post-grad life is an extremely exciting time and soon, I know that I’ll wish I could go back to the time that I was 21 and had few responsibilities.
Hey, worst case scenario: call Mom.