Graduating from college brings on a roller coaster of emotions. You’re excited, scared, anxious, hopeful. You’re ready to take it all on. But the job market is competitive, the cost of living is real, and starting a new chapter can be daunting. With the toss of a cap, you suddenly feel the weight of figuring out who you are and where you want your life to go.
We’ve been there! And since then, we’ve learned a few things about navigating change, and staying happy and healthy in uncertain times. Here are some of our favorite tips for exploring your post-graduation world.
Don’t let your job (or lack thereof) define you.
When you first graduate, it’s natural to talk about your career plans with friends. But be careful not to obsess and compare yourself to others. It will only drain your energy and distract you from figuring out your own path. Instead, try to focus internally. What brings you joy? What new skills do you want to learn? How can you continue to cultivate your strengths? When you shift your mindset away from external things that you can’t control, you feel happier, more balanced, and confident in your own skin.
Learn about careers you’re interested in.
Maybe you have a friend who’s a few years older than you who has a really cool job. Or maybe your mom’s colleague’s daughter works for a brand you love. You may have to dig to find contacts in your community, but we encourage you reach out and invite these people to coffee so that you can pick their brains. You’ll want to always be respectful of the other person’s time by limiting meetings to 30 minutes. And come prepared with some questions. You might ask, “What’s the best part of your job?” or “What does your day-to-day look like?”. Learning about different careers is a great way to educate yourself and explore your options. And networking is so much more effective than cold-sending resumes.
Don’t limit yourself.
Just because you majored in something doesn’t mean you’re required to work in a certain field. Some careers, like medicine and law, require specific schooling, but most jobs can be learned. Our communications manager, Kait Hurley, found that her degree in history set her up for success in her role at barre3. “All of that research and paper writing taught me how to think critically and communicate clearly,” she says. You never know how things will play out, so create space for yourself to dream and explore your interests.
Embrace the discomfort.
It’s totally normal to feel anxious and uncertain right now. No one has it all figured out right after graduation. (Spoiler: No one, no matter how old, has everything figured out—ever!) You’re starting a brand-new chapter of life, so there are bound to be moments of discomfort. It’s okay to just sit with that. We promise, there is meaningful transformation and growth waiting for you on the other side.
Figure out what you don’t like.
Sometimes, noticing what you don’t like can be just as enlightening as realizing what you do. Most people have aspects of their work that they dislike. Recognizing your least-favorite parts of your job will help you learn more about yourself and how you want your career to take shape. In addition to looking at what you don’t like, it’s important to ask yourself why you don’t like it. Is it because you don’t feel confident in this area? Or maybe you don’t mind the task but you’re not vibing with your co-workers? Pay attention and always ask yourself why.
Stay social while staying healthy.
Starting a new job is exciting, and there can be a lot of happy hours with co-workers. Definitely go out and join the group, but notice if this starts to become a habit instead of something you do once in awhile. Finding balance is key. Not only do cocktails and glasses of wine quickly add up and deplete your earnings, but, in excess, they also can impact your health and happiness. Instead of always going for drinks, try suggesting that your team meet up for a barre3, yoga, or spin class.
Set a budget.
It’s stressful to be dealing with bills and start paying off student loans all at once. Having a handle on your income and expenses will help mitigate financial anxiety. Be honest with yourself about how much you’re earning and how much you’re spending. You obviously want to avoid racking up loads of debt that will limit your options in the future. If you feel underprepared in the money department, ask for help. Simple.com and Mint.com are both fabulous resources.
Have you heard any post-graduation wisdom that is so good you have to share? Tell us in the comments below!