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A Recent Grad's Guide to Life After College

Updated on April 6, 2015
My mother and I on graduation day.
My mother and I on graduation day.

Introduction: “It’s tough out there.”

The one piece of advice, (if you can call it that), soon to be college graduates receive is that life is going to be difficult for them upon leaving the hallowed halls of their university. There are those that are lucky and, whether through the means of an internship that turned into something more, family connections, or a superb work ethic combined with a heaping dose of luck, can find work soon after turning the tassel to the other side of the cap. However, there are a group of graduates every year who find themselves lost within the confines of the “real world”; not only unsure of which path to take but burdened with the fear that they somehow set themselves up for failure by not preparing sooner. Regardless of which group you’re in please feel free to refer to this handy guide as you attempt to learn the best way to be a small fish in an Olympic sized pond.

10. Things Will Start Out Rough for You

If you know someone who has connections to a job or you have connections yourself, you’re in luck. If not, the only recommendations you’ll be receiving from friends, family, and neighbors will be in regards to where to look for work. You will still be required to do the bulk of the labor on your own. You alone will responsible for filling out applications and following up with the various companies and organizations you reach out to. This is your future position or career. It’s foolish to expect everything to work itself out with just a dash of hope burning alive in your heart. If you want to be employed you have to hit the books yourself. No one babied you through your undergraduate studies. So why would someone be there to coddle you through the beginnings of your job search?

Finding where to look is the first hurdle you’ll have to face. The next challenge comes with getting your foot in the door, i.e. crafting the perfect resume. Similar to finding where to apply, only you can write your resume. When you give said resume to a parent/guardian you’re only opening the door for everyone else to add their two cents into the mix. By the time the peanut gallery is finished looking at your resume it will beyond all recognition. The easiest and safest way to handle preparing your interview ticket is to find a template on Google and write it yourself. Your family might know you pretty well and paying a professional resume writer might sound like a nifty, time-saving idea but when it all boils down the only person who can truly, one hundred percent encapsulate who you are is you. Its scary taking matters into your own hands. However, when you think about it, you’re the one who’s going to be doing the job. Therefore, it should be you, and only you, who is in charge of helping you reach the final stage of getting hired.

9. You did not pick the wrong major

When you applied to college 4/5 years ago it’s likely that you were not considering which majors would lead to profitable careers. You wanted to pursue something that made you happy, that you found interesting; a subject you could see yourself studying for four years. Though your job search may seem fruitless at first remain positive. Opening yourself up to desperation will only result in adverse effects. You successfully made it through 16 years of education. You have skills. Remain persistent and you will find the right job for you.

The Arcadia University Theatre Class of 2014
The Arcadia University Theatre Class of 2014

8. "3-5 Years Experience Required” Apply Anyway!

This phrase is true in some cases but overall is said as a deterrent to prevent every applicant under the sun from sending in their resume. If the job requirements contain skills that you possess, apply anyway! You never know, your cleverly crafted resume may just convince the prospective employer that you just may be the right candidate after all.

7. Even if you’re not too excited about a certain position still apply!

A job is a job is a job. The first job you receive upon graduating won’t necessarily be the same one you have five or ten years from now. Apply for anything and everything that you qualify for. If you are offered the position, you can always decline if something better is available or you can accept the position and leave within a year. The important thing is to get your foot in the professional door. Any job adds another notch to your resume and increases your chance of getting hired elsewhere.

Graduation selfie!
Graduation selfie!

6. Retail is not a death sentence

The most common type of position available to recent college graduates is that of a position within the wonderful world of retail. Whether that job is in a supermarket, department store, or fast-food restaurant, many college graduates find themselves paying off the student loans by working some type of minimum wage customer service. While our culture promotes retail as a demeaning area of work set aside for those who don’t have the intelligence or skill to pursue any other career path, it’s sometimes the only field that’s hiring. Instead of lamenting over your situation by comparing yourself to your friends who were lucky enough to acquire salaried jobs upon graduating consider yourself fortunate. There are many people in this country who, for whatever reason, still find themselves unemployed. Retail will never be seen as being a worthwhile place to be but at least it’s something. Make the best of your situation by being the best employee that you can. In time, you’re sure to find yourself in a better position. Avoid discouragement by never losing hope.

5. Take Your Time

There’s no time limit for finding work after graduation. Some are lucky and find employment within a few months. Others take almost a year or more. Keep in mind that you’re not competing against your fellow graduates. Just because someone else is in a better place than you in terms of their job situation doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a better person. They got lucky. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope left for you. Stay positive and you’re sure to find the place where you belong.

Thesis Night 2014
Thesis Night 2014

4. Your Family is There to Support You

As you transition from young college adult to full fledged adult your family will be available to support you with whatever you may need. Whether it’s providing you with a place to stay until you’re able to move into your own apartment or aiding you in paying your student loans, you should never have to worry about how you’re going to get by. You’re going to be a success and your family will be there for you every step of the way.

3. Grad School is More Than Just a Fallback Option

If you’re afraid to enter into the big world of adulthood straight out of college you always have the option of applying to grad school. However, grad school is more than just a chance for you to escape your responsibilities as an adult. There are some employers that consider those with advanced degrees above those that have only completed undergraduate courses. Although an additional few years of education will increase the amount of student loan debt you’ll have to pay you could be helping to further insure your chances of having a successful career down the road.

2. Do Not Compare Yourself to Others

If you find yourself scrolling through Facebook, looking at your friend and how they’re succeeding at their new jobs or internships you’re going to make yourself depressed. Everyone is different and, therefore, progresses at their own pace. Just because you’re not exactly like your friends doesn’t make you a loser nor does it indicate that you’ve failed in some way. You are your own person. You will find your path in life.

1. You’re Doing Just Fine

Regardless of what your situation may be, you’re doing alright. Though you may feel like you’ve hit rock bottom and that you’ll never be the success you and your parents dreamed you would be remember that things can only go up from here. Stay positive and never allow yourself to lose hope.


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    • Iluminada Borja profile image

      Iluminada Borja 

      4 years ago

      Cngrats :)


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