The Pressure of Competing and Succeeding after College Graduation: 5 Helpful Tips!

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Getting to graduation … 

Graduating college – Not an easy task! If you recently graduated you know exactly what I’m talking about. Many grads have subjected themselves to year after year of constant, self-inflicted “punishment” to get there.  To get to graduation day often means working full-time or part-time while also attending college in the evening, studying for exams and various tests. Let’s also not forget about everyone’s favorite “group projects” on a topic that you couldn’t care less about while simultaneously attempting to complete an internship so you can satisfy your degree’s requirements. Now imagine doing that to yourself day after day, week after week, semester after semester and its easy to see that graduating is no small task! An achievement that should come with a sense of accomplishment and relief, but can also induce a loss of purpose and in some cases, depression. The objective has finally been met, your mind and body are absolutely exhausted, but in terms of a career, all you did was get yourself to the starting line!

Under pressure …

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Any fans of Freddy Mercury? His song comes to mind with its catchy tune. Why these feelings of pressure? You graduated after all! You wore the cap and gown and received a ton of congratulations by your professors who just made your life a living hell for the last couple of years. You did it! 

You finally got that precious degree and made your parents proud!

You should feel accomplished and content with yourself after all those years of hard work, right? Perhaps not…Recent grads report that the initial sense of euphoria tends to quickly fade and a new and troubling reality settles in.

The responsibilities that comes after graduation …

“What now?” is the million dollar question that many start asking themselves. If you were a driven individual during your years of hard work perhaps you scored a decent job proposal. However, many young individuals are unable to land that “dream job” they fantasized about in college. In fact, graduation was 2 months ago and they’re still looking for a job while competing with all of the other college grads fighting for the same opportunities! 

Those student loans are not going anywhere either. Recent grads are reminded of this “new” responsibility fairly quickly, typically via mail. The payment plans kick in around the 6 month post-graduation mark. So before the first payment hits your bank account (and please make sure you don’t default on your loans!), a college grad has about 2 quarters to hopefully find a good job opportunity in their studied major. 

The freedom of choosing your life …

The post-graduation period is the beginning of an era in self-exploration not only in one’s career development but also in their personal and intimate life. The following techniques can keep your journey moving forward on the road of success:

  1. Decide what it is you want to become – This is a tough one, probably the most difficult step in the process after graduation. You may not be able to specify it exactly, but if you have at least an idea you’re already on the right path. Recent graduates find themselves disillusioned with the real world, there’s a real and inevitable clash between the college life vs the 9-5 work life! As long as you have some sort of a vision, you will be able to design a game plan. There are hundreds, if not thousands of life and career coaches who can assist you in identifying your passion and vision for yourself.
  2. Clearly define your goals – I have spoken on this topic in the past and firmly believe that without specific and measurable goals, the desired outcome will be unreachable. How can you pursue something if you don’t have a map? Create the map first, then follow the required steps in order to get to the end destination. And if your goals change, that’s just fine and dandy, but at least you have already achieved one, two, or three steps which allowed you to get to the point of deciding to shift your end goal! Aim for progress!
  3. Be ready to relocate – If you are at a stage in your life where you are not settled yet and are able to move to another part of the country (a stage many new grads finds themselves in) – then do so! Highly specialized jobs are generally located in highly specialized areas, that’s a no brainer! So if you are determined to rise above your competition you have to follow the jobs and make the necessary adjustments. Many people do not like change, they fear the unknown and are not willing to loose their social networks. While there’s nothing wrong with that per se, you might be out of luck in the area where you live in. There are many young individuals out there who are willing to take the chance and get their feet wet in a new city creating new friends, meeting new co-workers and making new memories. Choose, but choose wisely! Whatever you decide to do, make sure to consider the pros and cons of each situation. Sometimes a new job offering $20, 000 or even $30, 0000 more in San Francisco may equate to the same salary in Florida after considering the cost of living in each area! Put that into perspective!
  4. Be flexible –  when searching for jobs try to forget the expectation others have for you. If you decided that you actually don’t like to work what you studied for – that’s OK. In fact, many do! If your family is disappointed  by your decision, so be it. It may not be ideal – after all, now you have to repay those student loans you borrowed, but what’s the point to pursue a miserable job, one that you’d only despise? Use the skills you have acquired during college to specifically describe how you could be of value to your prospective employers. Show purpose and determination – some (many) jobs are won by character and confidence!
  5. Create a healthy lifestyle – yeah, yeah, I know you’ve probably heard that a million times but it’s true. Exercise, sleep and diet are important tools for your success. As a matter of fact, this trio is key in your career and personal development. Lack of sleep, eating fast food and idle work/ life regime will stifle your ambition and drag your energy level to a new low. Time and time again research has shown how this trifecta has the immense power to impact individual’s physical and mental capabilities. Therefore, take care of your mind and body!

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