Help! I Graduated from College and Can’t Figure Out What to Do!

confused student

Doc Seidman Says…..

…..You just finished college, or are about to finish, and have no idea what to do next. Is this you? Guess what? You are not alone. In fact, I would venture to say that you are in good company.

You might not feel you are in good company. All you hear about are other recent grads launching successful careers. There’s one story after the other about a family friend, or a friend of the family friend who just graduated and has landed the perfect, high-paying job. And here you sit, nearing the end of college, without a clue about what to do next.

College probably prepared you for many things; how to cram for exams, pull an all-nighter, and subsist on pizza and junk food, for example, but it did not prepare you for the harsh reality of life immediately after graduation. All eyes are upon you now. Everyone is wondering what comes next. The pressure is on. The lucky ones seem to seamlessly slip into their next chapter with their perfect careers and relationships. The less fortunate ones, like you, are stuck.

An easy segue is to go right into graduate school. This not only puts off your job decision but it defers your student loans. Tread cautiously though, this just means more procrastination and debt. Besides, are you really going to have a better idea of what to do with yourself in two years, even with a master’s degree?

Another option is to travel. Go and see the world while you’re young. This, too sounds good, but seeing the world isn’t as much fun when you are broke and aimless. It is much more rewarding when you are rich and career driven.  A hostel might be fun for a while but it does not compare to a nice hotel with clean sheets, a hot shower, your own bathroom, and cable television.

So, what to do? How can you survive the high expectations that are now thrust upon you as a college graduate?

Do not despair. Believe it or not, the years after college should be just as rewarding as the years in college. It is an exciting time. As a college graduate, you have a lot to offer someone. You probably just don’t realize it.

As a recent college graduate, you are much more hirable than you think. You might not have the experience that your elders have but you are young, energetic, techie, and much better looking than us older folks. You are also not as set in your ways. You are easier to train and more receptive to new ideas.  You tend to work cheaper too. Companies love that.

Rare, too, is the person who sticks with the first job out of college for their entire career. It is still an experimental phase. It often takes two, three, or more jobs before you land your ideal career job. Once you have found that ideal job, it is all for the better as you have learned from past jobs and now have a better idea of what you enjoy doing.

Here’s something else. What you studied in college can be irrelevant at this point. Most employers don’t care if your major was World History, Art History, or Art Garfunkel. If you add value to their organization, what you studied is not important.

What is important is that you find a good company to work with. Don’t limit yourself. Apply in many places. Sometimes, the place you least expect will be the most welcoming. Getting up and going to work every day somewhere that you enjoy is more important than the name or reputation of the company.  The people you most enjoy working with might not be at that Fortune 500 company but that smaller, more obscure company down the road.

Understand, however, that these early, post-college jobs usually don’t always pay as much as you would like. Making top dollar somewhere does not happen right away. It takes time for you to prove your value. Be patient. That nice car or house you want to buy might have to wait. Your student loan payment, however, can’t wait. Those monthly payments still need to be made. That’s why you need to work.

So, don’t be afraid to graduate and take the plunge into the workforce. Understand that the job might not be what you majored in, nor might it pay you lots of riches right away, but if you play it smart, you can have some fun and make new friends. It can be just like college, only without the all-nighters. Even better, now you are getting paid.

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