So, you’re graduating college? Don’t worry. It’s going to be okay.
Graduating from college can be one of the best, and scariest, experience of your life. There’s no sugar-coating it — entering the real world is scary. But it’s not impossible. I’ve survived four year — FOUR YEARS — in the “real world,” and while it doesn’t get any less scary, it does, in some ways, get a little bit easier. I know my experience is vastly different from those graduating now — in the midst of a pandemic — but I feel like I still have some advice I can impart.
Let’s get started!
one | focus on where you are
I didn’t have a job lined up when I graduated college. When I got a job, it was far from the dream. I moved home for three months before moving to Nashville. Nothing was what I had planned, and that’s okay. I can’t say I focused on where I was, but I urge you to do so. If you’re home, enjoy it. If you’re starting a new job, thrive in it. Focus on where you are instead of looking back or looking forward, and you’re sure to be doing okay.
two | shut up, and listen
If you are lucky enough to be in rooms with people that are more knowledgable than you, please shut up and listen. Don’t try to prove yourself. Don’t try to shine. Listen and learn. Before you know it, you’ll have valuable contributions to give, but for now, I promise, it’s better to listen.
three | be pro-active rather than re-active
You might feel like life keeps happening to you, like you’re losing control? I get it. Something that really helped me was focusing on what I could control. I made routines I loved, I reached out to people to make connections, and I learned as much as I could.
four | have fun
I promise, having fun didn’t end when you walked across the stage. You can still throw parties, you can still hang out with friends, and you can still make memories to last a lifetime.
five | do something for yourself every morning/night
Whether you’re a morning or a night person, do something for yourself every day. For me, that’s reading. For other people, that’s crocheting or going to the gym or walking their dog. If you make time for the things you love, you’re bound to find joy in your life.
six | stop looking back
The minute I stopped wanting to go back to college was the minute I started to make a life for myself in Nashville. I got more involved with non-profit work, I worked harder at my job, and I made deeper friendships. That doesn’t mean I’m not friends with my college friends anymore, I am, but I’ve also made my life in Nashville a bigger priority than looking back on my memories wishing for what could have been.
seven | make a friend everywhere you go
Your network is almost more important than your resumé. With every job I’ve gotten, it’s always been the people I’ve known that have opened the door. Be kind, don’t burn bridges, and make a new friend wherever you go, and you’ll be golden.
eight | focus on gaining experience
I mentioned it before, but when I first moved to Nashville, I wasn’t doing much in communications. I was frustrated and lost, but I decided to channel my energy into learning more every day. I read books, worked on my blog, and got involved in a non-profit where I could learn about and practice marketing. If you’re not getting the experience you want, go and find it.
nine | take your vacation days
There is nothing honorable about working without taking a break. Your company gives you vacation days for a reason – take them. Refuel, recharge, and get back at it after you take a few days for yourself.
ten | it get’s better
I know everything feels like a mess right now. I promise, it will get better.