Navigating life after college

Life after graduation can be confusing and overwhelming for most young adults, especially those in their mid-twenties. Yet, at the same time, the period after finishing college can be an exciting chapter in your life, where you lay the foundation for the years to come. 

According to a recent survey highlighting the lack of support for recent graduates, about 50% of students report feeling low after leaving college. Yet, after studying, moving on with life can be exciting and daunting, given the uncertainties ahead. 

If you have been dreaming of your graduation for the past four years and have endured countless hours of late-night study, you shouldn’t be scared of what life has for you postgraduation. As you work towards creating your path, consider these valuable insights for navigating life after college. 

Avoid comparing yourself to others 

We all compare ourselves to friends from time to time. From childhood, it always appears that students are conditioned by society to see their peers as competition in their journey towards success. This is often the case when it comes to academics and finding the best internships. Unfortunately, some of the feelings of jealousy persist way after graduation. 

As you begin to compare your life after college to that of your friends, such as where you live and work, you may find yourself depressed. You may see others post congratulatory messages after being accepted to graduate school or talk about job offers. Comparing yourself to them may have you asking why your life is not moving as fast. 

Although feelings of comparison are typical to a certain level, you shouldn’t crowd your brain with jealousy to the extent that they start to affect your plans. Comparing yourself to others is a waste of valuable time and can do more harm than good. 

Although it may not be apparent, not everyone has things figured out as soon as they finish college. You may be comparing yourself to the most successful cases or those who seem to be making more money than yourself. There are many other people still trying to figure things out. Understand that you are on your path, and things may happen quite differently from what is expected. 

Start laying the groundwork 

So, you and many others will soon be graduating from college and start the daunting process of searching for jobs. How can you prepare yourself and have the edge over others in the pool? 

The secret to a successful life after graduation starts way before finishing college. Preparation is key. In other words, to get yourself going after graduating, you ought to set the groundwork for your postgraduation life today. 

Start your preparation by defining your career goals. What immediate plans do you have for your life after finishing your academic program? Do you intend to apply for grad school, or would you like to seek work immediately? Other than these short-term goals, it would be best if you also considered your long-term career goals. 

Once you find answers to these questions, create a plan on how to proceed. In the same manner, you invested your energy and time in the college application process, invest in making yourself stand as a desirable job candidate. 

Make regular visits to your college career center. The career services office offers more than a place where students can peruse job boards. It is one location where you can find experts who can help you better understand what to expect in the job market. 

They will help you understand your abilities, skills, interests, and personality. With their help, you can learn to translate those traits into promising job opportunities. Talk to career counselors to learn skills like creating impeccable resumes and working on your interview skills. The career office can also offer lists of notable alumni to engage in various fields. 

As part of your planning for life after graduation, also consider:

  • Creating or updating your LinkedIn profile
  • Creating and maintaining a professional network
  • Being aggressive and focused when it comes to job applications
  • Looking for opportunities to volunteer and build skills

Networking is particularly crucial when planning for life after graduation. The critical insight is to understand how to network such that it becomes natural and effortless. Your contacts will not want to feel like they are being gossiped about. So, be genuine in your conversations and convey your goals openly. Talk to your friends, professors, family, and mentors openly about your plans. 

Part of your networking could also involve reaching out to alumni and attending job fairs. Job fairs are ideal as they introduce students to recruiters. Remember to follow up with your contacts through email or LinkedIn. You can also help with editing college essays to get some income as you continue searching for jobs. 

Get started on your job search as soon as possible 

Most students spend a few weeks relaxing after graduation to unwind and plan for the next step in their careers. However, when you are prepared to start the job search, understand that the process is likely to be daunting. There are high chances that it may take some time before you can land your dream job. A recent survey shows that around 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. 

However, it is essential to get started on those baby steps as soon as possible. Understand that setting yourself specific tasks to focus on daily will allow you to clarify the job search process, break it down into more straightforward steps, and prevent being overwhelmed. 

Note that searching and applying for jobs after graduation can be daunting. Most people fail to secure the first jobs for which they apply after graduating. This means that you may have to submit several applications and juggle several recruitment processes. The challenging stage in your career requires focus and motivation. You will need to keep going even in the face of multiple rejections. 

Don’t feel bad if you want to postpone getting started on the job hunt for a few weeks. After spending so much time studying, you may want to unwind for a little while. Whatever you decide, it is a good idea to communicate your plans with your parents. 

When it comes to the application process, choose a routine that works for you. For instance, you could dedicate specific sections of your day for job hunting, allowing for breaks to rest and exercise. In addition, you may need to update or adapt your job search strategy as you proceed. 

Most importantly, don’t take rejection personally and try to have a life outside job-hunting. Many graduates report feeling demotivated whenever they are unsuccessful in their applications. Instead, approach the job search as a learning process. Each feedback you get should be used to improve your skills and technique. 

Here are some additional insights:

  • Tailor your resume for each job opportunity;
  • Frequently check job postings;
  • Take advantage of your alumni network;
  • Keep up with news on your industry;
  • Start preparing for job interviews. 

Prioritize your health 

Stressing about your future can start to take a toll on your mental and physical health. Everyone is always talking about wellness, but there is very little information on practicing self-care after graduation. In addition, the job search process is hectic, and negative feedback can start to affect your wellness. 

Taking care of yourself should be a priority during this critical period, but it won’t always be easy. You may presently feel stressed and overwhelmed with family, friends, and job searches. However, your main priority should be your health. 

To prioritize your health, find a passion, and commit to it. Understand that it can be challenging to motivate yourself when you are performing activities that you despise. Even when it comes to exercise, choose routines that you enjoy. Maybe you don’t like swimming but find yoga ideal. 

Be cautious about how you use your time. Focus on time management and schedule appropriately. There are many different ways you can learn how to stop procrastinating. The most common way is to break down your tasks into smaller chunks and set deadlines for yourself. Another way is to set up an accountability system with someone who will check in with you and make sure that you’re following through on your goals.

This way, you will avoid the stress associated with deadlines. Most importantly, eat healthily, get enough sleep, and drink lots of water. 

Now that your parents are not in charge of scheduling your daily routine and health appointments, you have to organize things independently. Get more familiar with the resources your healthcare plan covers. 

‍How to navigate life after graduation

Life after college can be frustrating. Avoid comparing yourself to others and define what success means to you. Find opportunities to continue your learning and get your finances organized. Most importantly, create and grow your professional network. 

Photo by Jeswin Thomas