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Navigating the Post-College World

college graduate
Thomas Martino
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Published on April 22, 2014

This is a guest post by Kirsten Anderson for Student Stories.

It’s April 2013 and I am eagerly awaiting my graduation ceremony on the 18th. Things will be different; I will no longer be a student slaving away at assignments and can finally do what I want to do; achieve goals that I sacrificed in order to attain a college degree; I cannot wait to be finished.

Fast forward a few months and I’m wishing I were still a student. Trading my Spring Breaks and three-day-a-week class schedule for working full-time at a coffee shop was not my idea of post-graduation life. To say the least, post-graduation life was not what I expected. That’s not to say that graduating wasn’t what I wanted – I just had different expectations.

Most students expect to get a salaried job worthy of a four-year degree. But in the current circumstances of this country, that isn’t always the case. In fact, I found myself working with high schoolers and people who had never gone to college when I first graduated and began working at a coffee shop. As much as I can complain about not landing my dream job straight out of college, these smaller jobs have allowed me to start thinking about where I want to go and what I would like to do.
In fact, in the past year I have managed to buy a car and save money while still making time for myself. In saying that, I have learned that the importance of having a work-life balance could not be more prominent in keeping one’s sanity. Although I work 40 hours a week, I have not only starred as a supporting role in a play, but have managed to spend a week in the mountains skiing with my dad and brother, and spent time with friends on a regular basis.

While many of us graduate and are dissatisfied with our first post-college jobs, I truly believe that these jobs are an important part of our journey to not only gain experience for our future careers, but to find out who we are as a person. For instance, I have learned that banking is probably not in my future, and this has challenged me to think about what I would really like to pursue. On the other hand, being a teller has allowed me to save and manage my money in a responsible way. In saying this, I encourage you to look at these jobs as stepping-stones for your goals, dreams, and aspirations; learning opportunities for future endeavors; rather than disappointments.

So my tips to you are:

  • Create a list of goals and a timeline to accomplish them.
  • Look for opportunities to learn in the jobs leading up to your career.
  • Create a work-life balance by pursuing a hobby or passion (ie: photography, baking, writing, etc.).
  • Network: talk to everyone you encounter – a lot of times people get jobs through connections.
  • Don’t give up – just because you aren’t where you expected to be after college, doesn’t mean you won’t get there – be patient.

About the Author:

Kirsten Anderson is a 22-year-old graduate from Macquarie University in Australia where she originally went on exchange and later transferred to after falling in love with the country. After graduating she has been both a barista and a teller while saving money to move to Atlanta, Georgia where she would like to pursue a career in film/television. She enjoys travelling, warm weather, playing tennis, and spending time with friends and family.

Thomas Martino

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