As a soon-to-be fresh grad myself, I have known it all. So before anything I want to say that I share my agony and despair with you. In fact, my story is very similar to yours. I, too, am a lost lamb waiting to see the light!
So if you are reading this, you are either a senior in college, or a fresh graduate. If you are a fresh graduate with one of those ‘job things’, here’s a message from your past self:
All right for the rest of humanity that are living in despair, good news! You’ll be stuck in this phase for a while. How is this good news? Because this is how we will treat the situation; blinded positivity is the answer!
All joking aside (even though I wasn’t joking), this too shall pass! But until then, we all reserve the right to be sick of it and to hate every moment of it. With that said, I have decided to take matters into my own hands. Being the human being I am and having a compulsive need to fix things, I have decided to put an end to the fears of every senior in college. I present to you the (almost) ultimate guide to getting your life together before graduation!
1. Destination unknown is where every fresh graduate goes!
No one has any idea what he or she will do after college. In fact, I can guarantee you that 99.9% of people who are graduating have no idea what will happen in their future. Those who have plans will change them and those who do not have plans will miraculously make some! I’m telling you destination unknown is where all our friends will be and there is no shame in being there. With that established, let’s move on to the real first tip.
2. Focus on yourself
I’m sorry to tell you this, but excuses will just not cut it this time. No one will be able to get you out of destination unknown but yourself! You need to get your life in order. This requires you to forget about that awful friend who talked back to you or whether you think some TV character deserved to die or if your psychology friends can read your mind. You seriously need to rid yourself of everything that will not help you! This year is YOUR year and you need to make that known. Sit with yourself and think about where you want to be in 10 years. Do not freak out if what you want to do is not what you are studying. Also, it is perfectly fine to have a list like this:
I want to be happy
I want to have money
I want to do something I love
That is a good start; most people have nothing but that on their list! Don’t look at it as no direction; look at it as little direction equals some direction! So you have an idea what you want from your life. Wasn’t that easy? Let’s make it happen now!
3. Get all your paper work done!
Finish your resume, finish that assignment and go find out what papers you need to put your name on the graduation list. Figure out what courses you need to graduate and enroll in them. If this proves to be a difficulty, use the “I am graduating” line and it will work like a charm. It really does! Trust me that line is the only useful thing you will experience your entire year!
4. Network, Network, Network
I don’t mean just meeting up with people who already exist in the industry or reaching out to your parent’s friends. I mean network with the people who already graduated last year and the people who are graduating with you. Believe it or not, those are the next generation of the industry you want to get in. In fact, call them all up, call the people you interned with that one summer, call your supervisor at your last internship. Combine all of the names in your network that could possibly help you land a job or aid your career in anyway!
5. School is important but so is experience
You will begin to realize that regardless of how high your GPA is no one will hire you if you have zero experience. Very little companies will take the time to entirely invest in a potential candidate when they have absolutely zero experience. I suggest that you take up a part-time internship while you are finishing up your senior year. You need it for several reasons: 1) it helps you put yourself on the market, 2) it increases your chances of landing a job, and 3) it helps you figure out whether that job position or that industry is entirely what you want.
6. Jobsites and career fairs actually work
As the daughter of an HR director, I have seen my mother attend millions of employment fairs. My mother has worked in several multinational companies and she always placed an emphasis on how important both those things are. Companies often recruit their candidates from these fairs and they will either check you out on linked in or they will reach out to you through linked in. Thus, do not pass up this opportunity!
7. Follow up!
There is a very big chance that you reach the end of the year and you still have no idea whether you will find a job or not. Do not give up. The industry is secretly testing you! Persevere and you will reap the rewards. What you need to do next is follow up with those companies, or reach out to someone prominent in the industry and ask them what you can do to work on yourself. Ask them what they did when they first started working in this industry, and get inspired!
8. Making money vs. being happy
A lot of us choose the road most traveled because it is safe, secure and predictable. It is also because you want to earn a good living, and more often than not, when you are a fresh grad, a good living means working in a multinational. However, no one ever said you have to choose between making money and being happy, you can do both. I disagree with people who do not put importance on money, let’s face it how will you survive without money? It should be to a certain extent relative to the decision you take. I say make it happen! Figure out what makes you happy first, and then figure out how you can make money out of it. Commoditize your hobby, talent or passion sell it to the world! We live in an age where entrepreneurship is booming. Savour that!
9. Save up!
Saving up is a good way to start your future. In fact, one of the first things you should do once you’re done with paper work is work on opening a bank account. Save up money from your allowance, part-time job, birthday money, Eid money or any kind of money you receive. Think of it as you are investing in your future, this money will come in handy when a good investment opportunity comes up or when number 10 happens.
10. If you start to cringe when hearing about the real world, TAKE A BREAK!
I hate it when people say life is too short. To me that sounds like, life is too short to be doing fun stupid things so get your stuff together! However, I like to think that my life is long. I have time to make mistakes and learn from them. In fact, I have time to take a break every once in a while and not take life so seriously. Stop thinking that your life will only grant you once chance. You will always have another chance.
11. No Shame in taking a year off!
Now this isn’t for everyone, but sometimes taking a year off to do things you love will put you on the right track to finding your passion. Start to think of your life as long with plenty of time. You have all the time in the world to work a 9-5 job when you’re older (if that is what you want to do), so stop for a minute or a year and take it all in. Figure out who you are, learn a new language, take on a new hobby, work in NGOs, or even travel to a foreign country. Remember this is also called investing in you.