• Bri Cooper

4 Things You Need to Know Before Graduating College

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

Almost ten months ago to the day, I proudly walked across a brightly lit stage, accepted my empty diploma, and kissed undergrad goodbye with every intention to conquer the world. Since then, I moved to Arizona, landed the perfect job, made the sweetest friends, and even snuck in a vacation to Hawaii with my best friend.

Honestly I have little to no complaints, I’m a happy girl these days.

Based off this snapshot, you might be thinking that post grad was something I breezed through, navigated swiftly and looked like maybe I even knew what I was doing.

Allow me to be the first to admit that was not the case - like not even a little bit!

The months right after graduation were actually some of the worst. I was unemployed without any leads, crashing at my parent’s with no secure direction and didn’t have any friends who lived locally. Turns out being lonely and broke while fighting for my independence is not a great combination for me.

I eventually got out of my funk but it was not easy, or enjoyable for that matter. There were so many things I learned during this season about myself, navigating the “real world” and most importantly, what I wanted my career to look like.

These are all lessons I wish I knew before graduating, which is what inspired me to write this post.

Kind of cheesy, I know. But seriously, these are lessons I learned the hard way and value even now as I continue to live my post-grad life.

Without further ado, here are my pro tips of what everyone should know before graduating college.

1. Establish Your Inner Circle

I intentionally put this as my first point because I cannot preach it enough! These are the people who would drop everything at a moment’s notice. The ones who stick around when you give them every reason not to. Maybe most importantly, they’re the people willing to deliver hard truth even when you don’t want to hear it.

A lot of people meet their best friends in college, which makes graduating all the more bittersweet. The reality is friendship dynamics change. It’s a natural and inevitable part of life, which means it’s on you to decide who sticks around and who doesn’t.

This won’t be a calculated decision, nor should it be! You’ll figure out pretty quickly who you’ll remain close with. Find time to stay in touch with these people and have the empathy to understand that life gets busy and learn how to pick up where you left off.

A lot of my closest friends are with those who live in other states, including the wonderful and very talented owner of this blog! (Seriously, isn’t Bri the best?!)

These friends are rare. Cherish them. Pour into them. Love them unconditionally. They are what get you through all the craziness that is post grad.

2. It Doesn’t Look the Same For Everyone, and That’s OKAY!

Seriously, it’s fine!

I vividly remember sitting in Starbucks literally nervously sweating as I listened to my classmate try to decide which job offer to take two weeks before graduation.

*Cue the panic*

I hadn’t even had one interview let alone any job offers! All I knew was to get through finals week with whatever was left of my sanity and worry about the rest later. I felt behind, lost, and out of control, and I hated that feeling more than anything.

I’m not writing this to convince you not to compare yourself to others – that will inevitably happen. I am telling you to focus. Better yourself by defining what success means in your career and create a plan to implement steps to get you there. Set goals and be resilient in your execution.

Your path will not look the same. Period. For better or worse that’s the reality, so don’t waste time getting caught up with what others are doing. Focus on yourself and make sure you’re actively working toward your goals and unapologetically pursue that.

3. Patience Is a Virtue…For a Reason!

Y’all, I cannot tell you how many times I was rejected after interviews or never even heard back from employers. Literally I lost count. Here’s the thing though. This is completely normal. I know right, ugh.

But think about it!

Think about all the people in your shoes trying to secure a full-time job right out of college. Think about everyone who has more experience or knows people in the “right places.” Think about everything that needs to fall into place in order for a job to work out. Timing, salary, location, coworkers – seriously the list is never ending.

Statistically speaking, you will get rejected more times than you will receive offers. Again, I say NORMAL.

Trust me in the moment, it feels anything but normal - or good, for that matter. But if you let even one rejection define you, then you might as well throw in the towel now.

I promise you it’s going to happen. But life does go on and another door will open, so keep going. You will get your break!

4. The First Offer Isn’t Always the Best One

Honestly, this is a lesson I feel like I can’t even take full credit for learning – my amazing inner circle takes the cake on this one! In my desperate pursuit of finding a job, I was finally offered a position in sales. Sales. Enough said.

Okay for those of you who don’t know me, this was so far off from what I wanted to do. While I definitely felt relieved, I also felt like I was settling but I brushed this feeling off because I really needed an income and I just wanted to start working already.

It took the convincing of my (brutally honest) roommate and parents to convince me to wait and explore my options. Long story short, I didn’t end up taking it (thank goodness!) and for good reason.

It wasn’t in line with my goals and where I wanted my career to go. When you apply for jobs, it’s good to keep your options open but always go back to the reasoning. Make sure this job is a step in the direction you want your career to go. Graduating college is a symbol of the start to your life. Your entrance into the real world. The platform that will change everything. You’re educated and ready to conquer the world. It’s a feeling of accomplishment and hope. Pure bliss, really. With confidence, I can say that post grad is simultaneously everything and nothing you thought it would be. The secret to getting through is that there is no secret! Post grad looks different for everyone, so make it your own. Set the tone for how you want your professional career to look and have fun with it!

It is completely okay to answer the famous question, “So what are you going to do after you graduate?” with, “I LITERALLY have no idea.” Y’all are wonderful, thanks for reading!

Tori (@torivaldivia)

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