A lot of people say college is the best 4 years of your life. It’s fun and exciting. You’re learning new things, discovering who you are and making friendships that will last a lifetime. Yes, there are exams and stupid professors, bad dining hall food and the hell on Earth that is the Financial aid office, but even with all the bad– college is an amazing experience.
When you are headed off to college everyone had something to say. Every adult you know wants to give you a warning. Watch out for psycho roommates, be careful walking around campus at night. Make sure to lock all your valuables, use protection. When I left for college I felt like I was prepared for every possible situation I might encounter–thanks to the tons of (mostly unwanted) advice. But looking back now I realized no one prepared me for what would come next.
Everyone talks about college, but no one really talks about what happens right after you graduate. There is a gray area, a limbo. This scary, uncertain in-between you enter as soon as you walk across the stage. Sure college is great…but Post-Grad Life sucks.
Believe me when I say Post-Grad Life is not always a fun place to be, but it’s something most of us have to experience. When you’re in the Post-Grad Life you are sure of nothing. You start second guessing all your decisions and comparing yourself to others. Of course when you have nothing but free time it gives you the opportunity to critique every aspect of your life.
Am I sure I chose the right major? How on earth did they get a job before me!? Why do I have to live so far away from all my friends? Maybe I should’ve applied to grad school? Why do I even need a cover letter? Maybe I should do one of those teaching english abroad programs and move to Thailand? How the HELL am supposed to afford both loans and rent? I need a real job I CANNOT keep babysitting!
These are a few of the questions running through the head of every Post-Grad. Actually a lot of people I know we’re asking these questions well before we graduated. We all knew what was coming, scary, grey, uncertain, LIMBO.
No one warns you to how much change you are going to experience in those first few weeks after you walk across the stage. So I’m going to fill you in. I am going to warn you about some things to expect once you graduate, so you can prepare yourself and understand you are NOT alone in these Post-Grad Struggles.
1. Your friends are going to move away.
Say goodbye to the days where all of your closest friends lived in the same building as you. Once you graduate everyone scatters. Some people will go back home and move in with their parents. Others will bite the bullet and get that apartment in the big city. Other people might just leave to go and find someplace new. Right now all of my friends are scattered across the globe. Not the tri-state are, not the region, not the country– the FREAKING GLOBE. I literally have a friend who is doing a volunteer program in Armenia. I don’t even think I could find Armenia on a map…
Look, they are still going to be your friends. You will still text and skype and you WILL figure out a way to make it work despite the time difference. But you also need to know it’s not going to be the same. You’re going to get lonely. You’re going to wish you all still lived in the same place, or at least the same state. And as much as it will suck at times, you’ll eventually adjust.
I swear it is not all bad. In truth Post-Grad life teaches you a lot about friendship. During this time you are going to figure out who are your life long friends and who were just friends of convenience.
2. At least 1 person you don’t like is going to get a job before you.
Let’s face it–the world is not fair. Sometimes good things happen to terrible people, and we have to accept that. Chances are in your 4 years at your prestigious school you met a couple of jerks, a few idiots, and 1 or 2 douchecanoes. Even terrible people end up going to college, and a lot of them get good jobs. So this is me, warning you that at least 1 person you hate from your graduating class is going to get a job before you…and it is going to SUCK. When your friends get a job there may be a twinge of jealousy but overall you are going to be happy for them. But when your mortal enemy lands a job, and I mean a GOOD job at a dream company, it is going to feel like a slap in the face. Which leads me to my next point…
3. Some of your peers are going to get a job before you…but that’s OK. It’s not a competition.
Your friends, your enemies, people you met once during freshman orientation and never spoke to again– all of these people are going to post on social media talking about how excited they are about their new jobs. Others are going to comment congratulating them…and you are going to watch it all happen while sitting on your couch watching another SVU Marathon on USA. Social media is a amazing tool. It can help us stay connected with people who are far away, but it can also make you feel terrible about yourself. You see other people living these amazing Instagram-worthy lives and after a-while your self confidence is bound to take a blow.
4. Here are two things you should know:
- You are going to get a job, maybe not today, maybe not next week, maybe not next month but you will get one.
- Other people’s successes are not your failures. Yes they got a job first, that doesn’t mean you are not as smart or talented as them. In all honesty it has nothing to do with you and it has no real long-term effect on you.
Yes, it will still make you feel shitty for a minute or two, but don’t let it completely ruin your day. Like the post (or don’t I’m not judging) keep scrolling and move on! Don’t let someone else’s achievement make you feel bad about yourself.
5. Job-hunting sucks.
I truly hope your resume gets read by a real life person, because in 21st century job-hunting that’s all anyone can hope for. Job-hunting sucks. It is easily the worst part of Post-Grad Limbo. It’s a lot of researching, writing and A LOT of waiting. You search and search. You write cover letters and edit your resume until your fingers bleed. If you’re lucky, you get called in for an interview. Wait a while and if you’re really lucky, then you move on to the second round of interviews. You wait a couple more weeks, then eventually after you have twiddled your thumbs and sent out 45 more applications you get a decision. A lot of the times the decision isn’t what you want to hear.
Look I’m going to be honest job hunting is TERRIBLE. But remember you are not alone, all of your friends are going through or have been through the same thing. I promise you will eventually get a job. Keep your head up and don’t get too discouraged because we are all in the same boat at some point.
6. People are going to give you a lot of unwanted advice.
It’s going to be just like your senior year of High School…only worse. Get ready for unwanted advice and constant opinions from family, acquaintances and strangers. A lot of these people who offer their advice are going to have no idea what they are talking about.
People are going to tell you how the job searching process works, what you’re doing wrong and what you need to do better. They’re are going to question a lot of your choices, from where you decided to live to how you’re spending your time. And most importantly there are going to be a whole lot of people who aren’t actually in your career field who try to explain to you how your field works. A couple weeks ago my 60 year old eye doctor actually tried to explain how Communications works. Because you know he clearly has a lot of experience in that particular field…
I’ll admit unwarranted advice from people who know nothing about my field or my personal career goals is one of my biggest pet peeves; but it’s something we all have to deal with. You can argue and try to explain, or you can smile and walk away. Personally I choose the latter because I have more important things to do then explain to my Doctor that journalism is not in fact dead.
7. You are going to question your choices.
This is inevitable. I know several people who during senior year decided they hated their major and set themselves on a completely different career path. Some people are going to reconsider grad school. Others will wonder if they should’ve waited instead of taking the first offer they received. People who like me decided to go a less traditional route, are going to wonder if they should have just applied for 9-5 jobs. No matter what you majored in and no matter what school you went to, at some point every recent grad is going to stop and wonder did I do the right thing? If you did, great good for you. If you didn’t, well, you still have time to fix it.
I didn’t write this article to scare all the soon to be graduates. I did it to prepare you and give you a warning, because honestly I wish someone had given me a heads up that these first couple months were going to totally suck.
Look, it is going to be stressful and it’s going to be hard. You’re going to get lonely and frustrated and you’re probably going to doubt yourself. You’re going to get jealous when you see other peoples posts about landing their first job and moving into their brand new apartment. Hell there may even be times when you wish you were back in school. The bottom line is this: Post-Grad life sucks for a few months, but you WILL get through it and it WILL get way better. You’re not alone in your struggles, and a lot of what you’re going through is preparing you for what’s meant to happen.
So keep sending out resumes. Try not to get too mad at people when they give you advice. Keep in touch with your friends. Take a break from social media. Go outside, soak in the sun and realize how much you have achieved.
Remind yourself that you are SO young, and you still have so much left to accomplish.
New grad? Check out the articles below for more tips and advice!