You wore the cap and gown, moved the tassel from the right side to left, and received your diploma. Congrats, you did it! But now what? If you’re like me you may feel a tad empty inside because for the past 13-16 years you’ve been a student, and now one little piece of paper in a fancy folder took that identity away from you. Suddenly you’re a graduate but no one told you what that means. Well, buckle up kiddos because this recent grad is going to tell you all about the in between of the job search and your degree.
Listen, I get it you just completed that rigorous thing we Americans call our education system. You probably want to sleep for 100 years and call it good, but you can’t. There’s still work to be done particularly if you graduated college without a job lined up, like I did, or you’re not going to college right away. Without further ado, here’s what to do while you’re figuring out who you are and what to do next.
1. Take a Breath
You’re not competing against people anymore, it’s ok to take a step back and relax. Enroll in a yoga class or read a book. Going forward, life is about collaboration and cohabitation, embrace it.
There’s a rumor on the internet that you can gain experience in your chosen field by volunteering with different organizations. If you aren’t sure where to start, try looking at opportunities on VolunteerMatch.org. Nonprofits are always looking for people to help them across the board in various areas. Figure out which issues and causes ignite your passions and see how your skills can help them. Maybe they need help with their social media or could use some management help. You’ll never know if you don’t reach out and start volunteering. The beauty of Volunteer Match is that it allows you to filter out opportunities by cause so you don’t feel too overwhelmed if your city has a myriad of volunteer positions open.
If you did your share of volunteering through an activity or club while you were in school, see how you can stay connected with the organization you helped. They may need advisors and would be a great way to get fresh leadership experience.
3. Continue your Extra Circular Activities
Sure, they were just the extra things you did to get into college or pad your resume but I hear in the “real world” they call these ~hobbies~ so it may not be wise to give up that instrument just yet. You might need it to keep yourself interesting at grown up parties. Keep running, practice that foreign language, and take a cooking class. Doing these activities outside of school and work is how you continue to meet people and make friends!
It’s never too early or too late to grow your network. If you live in an area with chapters of professional associations such as the American Marketing Association, the American Accounting Association, or the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. This website is a good place to start when searching because it allows you to find associations and training programs if you believe you need them going down the road. Once you find one you’d like to join check and see if they hold events in person, that way you can meet other professionals in your field and connect with them one-on-one. Likewise, if you don’t have the luxury of living in a thriving city filled with organizations to join, it’s time to get on the good ol’ LinkedIn if you’re not there already. This cult classic platform allows you to connect with professionals all around the world and hunt for jobs based on company size, location, and much more.
5. Do Something Different
Well, you know what they claim Albert Einstein said, “The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” On your new-found path through the Wonderful World of Adulthood be sure to switch it up occasionally. Expanding your horizons now leads to an expansion of your options later.
Honestly kids, it’s boring here in the in between; but that’s why we do these five things listed above. Right now, you need to practice patience, build influence in the topics you care about, and most importantly stay positive!