The author was all smiles on her graduation day last year.
Dear Petrified College Senior,
Before I go any further, repeat after me: It’s all going to be OK.
You may not think so right now as you’re grasping onto the final fleeting moments of undergrad and squeezing tight with both hands. Sure, you don’t want to give up the perks — the late-night pizza runs, the sorority socials and the no classes on Fridays. But there’s also something greater you don’t want to let go — your childhood.
But trust me, here you are one year out of college and you’re still functioning. It’s all going to be OK.
Nothing could have fully prepared you for your transition from undergrad to post-grad, but there are some growing pains that you could have avoided if you knew better. Here are the things I wish you knew a year ago:
The days before graduation are more important than the ceremony. Get a head start on your job search before you collect your degree. Get your professors’ and career center’s advice on your cover letters and resume. If you utilize these resources while they’re still available, you’ll feel much more prepared to take on the world when you leave college behind.
Save your pennies. Sure, it’s a cute sundress, but by summer, your wardrobe may be bigger, and your options for everything else will be limited, and your savings account will be crying. Prioritize your spending in your last semester of college. This will make the post-college shift a lot smoother. That flight to the interview, the trip to visit your friends who are now in grad school and your livelihood depend on it.
When you fall, get back up. Spoiler alert: You live out everyone’s worst fear and your face meets the floor when you go to take a graduation photo. (Don’t worry, it’s not during the ceremony and you know wearing heels always comes as a hazard.) How you handle yourself in moments of weakness is important — whether it’s falling on your face or falling short in a job interview. Just like in college, take these lessons and apply them to what comes next. I promise none of these shortcomings will be the end of the world, although it may feel that way now.
Looking for a job is a full-time job. Despite what you have heard or seen, nailing down a job once you graduate isn’t easy. It’s going to take time before something comes up. Be slow and deliberate on your applications. There is no worse feeling than seeing a typo on a cover letter until after you send it (sorry to break it to you, but I’m speaking from personal experience).
Don’t compare your position to someone else’s. Everyone approaches life differently and their advancement in their career is no exception. So, your sorority sister got a job a week after graduation and you’re back at home eating Fritos on your mom’s couch? Ask your sister for some interview tips or if she knows if anyone else is hiring at that company.
No matter what happens, do what makes you happy. College was some of the best years of your life, and you’ll cling to that like the baby blanket you had as a kid. Don’t let those memories be the only thing that brings you happiness. Pursue your dreams — they’re there for a reason. Job searching and life after graduation can test your limits. You’re able to handle more than you think you can and things always have a way of working out.
Most importantly, even if you forget to do all of this (and you will), don’t forget to look up; when you walk across the stage, when you walk into job interviews and when you walk through adulthood. Keep a positive attitude and keep your persistence. Nothing good comes out of looking down — and the view is terrible.
Forever yours (seriously),
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