- Pamela Newman, LCSW-C
I Graduated College… Now What?
College graduation can bring both excitement and anxiety regarding finally being done with school but also being completely confused about next steps. For those of you who do know what you want to do next, it can still be scary actually getting started with your career. For those of you who don’t have a path lined up, I want to let you know that that’s OK! There is a lot of pressure to have things figured out while simultaneously trying to finish classes and say goodbye to college friends.
Remember: you don’t need to decide what you want to do for the next 30+ years TODAY. Many adults have attempted several career paths prior to finding one that suits them. Oftentimes, you don’t know if a career is right for you until you are actually working in it. It’s unlikely that your first job out of college is going to be the one you have until you retire. Keep this in mind when job hunting. You do not need to have all of the answers immediately after graduation.
Things to do right now:
Have a frank conversation with your parents about the following:
Living situation – how long are they comfortable with you living at home? What will the rules for living at home be now that I am an adult?
Assess your financial situation: Do you need to get any job right away or can you be more particular? Are your parents willing/able to offer financial support for housing or general expenses?
At what point are they expecting you to get a job? If you don’t have one by then, what are their conditions?
Start searching for jobs.
If you know what to do but are able to take some time off first, factor in the fact that finding a job can take some time, so don’t wait until you are ready to start working to start looking.
If you have no clue where to start, try the following:
Check with your schools career center to see if they have aptitude tests that you can take.
Check with your schools career center to see if they can connect you with alumni in your potential field of choice to informationally interview.
Read LOTS of job descriptions. Write a list of what appeals to you/factors that you are looking for.
Check with friends/family members to see if they know anyone in your field of choice that you could informationally interview.
Consider looking into an employment/temp agency. They can often connect you with short-term positions which then can lead to long-term jobs.
If you’re not sure about graduate school, don’t feel the pressure to decide immediately. You can always do the research, take entrance exams now and apply later.
If you can’t find the perfect job right away, be mindful of the pressure you are putting on yourself or any negative self-talk. Be aware that it’s often much easier to find a job once you already have a job. If you end up in a job where you’re not happy, keep searching. With each job, you will learn more and more things that work for you and things that don’t so you know what to look for next time.
Don’t forget to make sure you are enjoying things outside of work too! If you can afford to do so, travel, take some time off and have fun before you start a full time career. Make sure you allow time to spend with family and friends, prioritize your health and wellness. If we are only focusing on work, that can lead to burnout early in your career. It’s good to create boundaries between work and social life.
Mostly, try to enjoy your time and celebrate your accomplishment and be proud of yourself! Over time, you will figure out a work/life balance that suits you. Be patient and you will find your path. Remember, it’s ok to be unsure – you are not alone! In time, you will find your path.
Good luck and Congratulations!