Graduation season is upon us, my friends. My friends from my post-bacc year are receiving their caps and gowns and setting up photo shoots. My second-year grad school friends are gearing up for their final externships and applying for their Clinical Fellowship Year jobs. And I’m finally starting to see a light at the end of the grad school tunnel (472 days until MY graduation, guys! Definitely not counting!!!).
It’s crazy to think it’s already been four years since I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. Even though I had an internship, I didn’t have a job lined up yet. I was still a server at Carrabba’s and my only plans were to visit my sister in Europe and then move back in with my parents. Despite my lack of plans, the world felt like my perfect little oyster, waiting for me to take it by storm!
Even though I’m back in school, I still feel like I’m qualified to give at least some advice in the post-college life department. I had two whole years of freedom after I graduated college, so here are my best bits of advice for all you soon-to-be grads:
Moving back in with your parents for a while is okay. I know it may feel like a step backwards, but if your parents give you the OK to come back for a bit rent free (or at a low monthly rent), take advantage! My parents were more than happy to have me move back home after college, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone. I lived with mine for almost a year after graduating, and about seven months after I got my first “big girl” job. In that time, I put nearly $7,000 into my savings account. Definitely worth it!
More money = more problems. With student loan payments looming, it’s obvious why college graduates immediately chase after the highest paying job they’re qualified for. Money is great, but keep in mind that 9 times out of 10, a higher salary means higher responsibility which means higher stress levels (and I don’t know about you, but at 22, I was not ready to be thrown into the fire). We all want to come out of a four-year degree making $50k+, but don’t turn down a fantastic job just because it isn’t paying you top dollar right away. My boyfriend came out of college and started making a decent but “lower” hourly wage at a big company. He’s worked his ass off ever since, has been promoted multiple times over the last few years, and has continuous plans for growth within the company. The money will come, but you have to be willing to work for it.
Most of your college friendships will fade, but not all of them. It’s easy to have a bunch of good friends when you’re in college because you all live a stone throw across the pool from each other. But unless you all plan to live in the same town after graduation, maintaining the friendships that were once so easy might become difficult to juggle. Keep in mind that some friends are for life, while others are meant for just a few chapters…which is completely fine. I actively hang out with about four friends from college, and I still keep up with others through social media and the occasional text. Nurture the friendships that mean the most to you – distance and time spent apart from each other will never break a solid bond.
Your first job doesn’t have to be your dream job. You might not even know what your dream job is just yet…and even if you do, don’t be disappointed if you’re not landing interviews right off the bat. It takes time to figure out exactly what you want from your career (and to gain experience). Before I decided to become a speech-language pathologist, I got my degree in public relations…and ended up with a job in sales. While I never saw myself working in sales, I had a great time at that job and made some great friends. It wasn’t my “dream job,” but it was a stepping stone, and every day was a networking opportunity.
It’s totally cool if you don’t have a plan just yet. It’s okay not to have a job lined up immediately following graduation, if you didn’t get into grad school this time around, if you don’t have a studio apartment lease signed in NYC five minutes after receiving your diploma. When I first graduated, I thought I’d move to Chicago or some other big city, have a crazy “single” life, and be 100% done with academia forever. Reality: I stayed in my beautiful hometown of Tampa Bay, met my wonderful boyfriend of 3.5 years just a couple months after graduation, and went to graduate school for SLP. More often than not, life doesn’t go accordingly to plan, and that is just fine.