Things I Wish I Knew When I Graduated College
You May Not Be Able to Get A Job Right Away
Truth. The job market is still picking up, but it's still not great in some places. Just be aware that it could take awhile to get a job. If you can, try moving to an up-and-coming city. There are numerous articles on up-and-coming cities that are put out each year that discuss a nice balance between living expenses and extracurriculars. Just do a Google search to find out the most recent ones for the year.
Finding a job is very stressful, so be ready to use your stress coping mechanisms that you more than likely developed in school. You're going to need them again.
In the meantime, you can save money as best you can. This can also be a great distraction for you. Win-Win.
You May Not Use Your Degree After All
Be aware that when you finally get a job, you may not use your degree. Good employers should be able to incorporate somehow as you were interested in the subject at one point to get a degree. It's okay. I hear this happening all of the time. It seems that the majority of employers just want the piece of paper to show that you put in the work. Strange, huh?
You Will Probably Change Your Career Multiple Times
Once you do get a job, it may not be something that you want to do forever. It may be something just to pay the bills. I don't blame you. This can get frustrating as you think: "which one is going to be my career?"
Of course, that's something for you to decide. But, do know that many of us still don't know our career paths--even six years out of college. Personally, I've changed jobs as many as six times. It was never my intention. It was a bad job economy when I graduated + just not as cut-and-dry for some of us. I get it. Like dating, with jobs, we have to try on different pants (metaphor for jobs) to see what we like and what is available. That is usually the tallest order--making decent or good money doing what we love.
Through my numerous conversations with differing age groups, it seems that many people feel the same way. Don't stress out about this or feel like a failure if you don't know right away. Explore, and make money where you can.
Another thing; many people fall into the corporate world and feel trapped. Keep in mind that you can change your career at any time (providing you have back up funds) and that the corporate job doesn't have to last forever. If you're not happy, figure out a way to change it. Join the Gig Economy and sell on Etsy. Sell lash extender. There are other options out there.
You Can Forbear, But the Interest Continues
Sadly, I think most of you probably already knew what I was talking about--it's student loans. Most loan companies allow forbearance after graduation, but more than likely, the interest is going to continue to compound. This may not be a big deal if your interest rate is low, but if it's a private loan, the interest is probably not going to be pretty. If you can afford to not forbear, do so.
Friends Are Not As Easy To Make Anymore
It's not as easy as it was in kindergarten. All it had to be was: "What's your favorite color?" and off we went to play. This was one of the hardest things for me to understand as an adult: how in the world do people make friends?
The answer I've heard most: through work. I would counter with "but, are work friends your real friends?" They certainly can be, but a lot of times, they can seem better off as good acquaintances, unless you both agree to keep in contact after hours. As long as that doesn't spill into work nor affect your work, that's fine. You could also initiate group work outings, which help to maintain morale and a certain comfort level that's nice to have at work.
Work friends aren't always the case for some of us. When I worked in law firm, my co-workers were snarly, grumpy legal assistants and one sweet receptionist. They were better for just passing the time than making actual friends. It's completely possible, but may not totally feasible.
When you graduate, people also grow apart. You can keep as friends as Facebook and check in every once in a while, but as life happens, it can become harder to communicate.
I would recommend getting involved with a group--volleyball, improvisation, volunteer work, Toastmasters--What's your bag, Baby? Find a fun hobby to socialize/keep your sanity. You should start to develop a new group while you can keep in touch with your old ones.
Should I Go To Graduate School?
Depending on what you want to do; yes and no.
If you want to be a counselor or anything in the medical industry, more than likely yes. If you want to be a welder, also more than likely yes. You can look up the requirements on job ads--check out Indeed.com, which jobs pulled from other job sites.
If you still can't tell, contact someone at your school's department or contact a prospective company and ask their qualifications. This is a great idea to check as you don't want the extra loans if you don't need them.
There are also scholarships and teaching assistant positions in Graduate School--which is something I didn't know. (I was the first to graduate in my family.) Check it out. It may be worth it.
All I'll say is just please don't make the decision to go back because you don't know what else you should do. You might as well keep taking personality tests and brainstorming for potential professions. I would hate for you to invest in graduate school only to put yourself back in the same position you were in after you graduated undergrad.
Many of Us Are in the Same Boat
One thing that I wish I would have really known is that other graduates are struggling too. No matter how happy, smiling, and shiny they appear on Facebook, they probably are too. The system right now for college stinks and is not feasible for a long time. Nobody can expect a generation to pay so much for college, work through college, get decent grades, then get stuck with a bunch of loans, and expect us to feel behind.
I wish there were focus groups for us. It's just not openly discussed, and will take a lot of work to fix. These are obviously national structural problems.
But; know that you are not alone. Take a deep breath, put together a budget, and kick butt. Most of us are in the same fricking boat.
Keep Your Chin Up And Grab An Umbrella
I know this is really easy for me to say right now, but I mean it. After graduating, you will experience a lot of "what-if" stress. Keep your chin up, and grab a metaphorical umbrella. Or a regular umbrella--whatever floats your boat.
Do your best. That's literally all you can do. Remember: this reality won't be forever. In the words of the movie Hook, "I believe in you." (Hug)