Jersey Girl, Texan Heart: 6 Ways to Deal with Life after College

6 Ways to Deal with Life after College

4:00 AM

The other day I was having a chat with one of my coworkers who is a lot younger than me and she had just graduated out of college last year.  We were talking about the changes you have to undergo as a “kid” going into the real world after college.  She brought up a good point that there’s nothing out there that prepares you for the real world.  I decided to write today’s post based on my conversation with her.

How do you deal with life after college?

Last year I wrote a whole series called So You’ve Graduated.  I talked about what your appearance should be like, how to rock your interview, and how to keep your job once you got it since let’s be honest here EVERYONE is irreplaceable in the work place.  However, I never really talked about how to adjust after college.  After (if you were in college for 4 years) about 16 years of school and doing the same thing here you are, an actual adult, an adult who needs to find a job and pay off student loans.  This post is going to be complete and total tough love, because guess what the real world IS TOUGH most of the time.

There’s really no actual step by step way to adjust but I can give a few steps from experience.  I’m going to be honest with you, I graduated with my Bachelors’ in 2009 a year after the economy crashed.  I struggled to find a job so I really did not have enough time to adjust, I was forced to adjust.  Then when I graduated with my MBA in 2012, I STILL could not find a job.  My step by step will be more of how I struggled to “make ends meet” so to speak.  Thankfully I have parents who helped me out a lot both mentally and financially.  They pretty much helped to mold me into who I am today.

1. Grow Up

There’s really no nice way to say this, but you need to grow up.  You are no longer a teenager in high school, or that frat boy drinking every weekend.  The last 4 years of college was the last of your fun immature self.  It’s time to suit up (LITERALLY) and act like an adult, you can still have fun but tone it down a notch.

“But Monica, how do you just act like an adult?”

Simple.  Instead of scrolling through your social media feeds and snapchatting every single moment of your life PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE.  Get in front of your computer and create your Resume and Cover Letter.  Then instead of engaging in stupid petty gossip, walk away.  You’re ABOVE that.  You are no longer a kid, gossip isn’t going to get you anywhere.

“But Monica, how do you write a resume or cover letter?”

I’m going to give you tough love.  Google it.  There are so many free programs out there that even give you templates where you just edit it with your experience.  For those of you still in college graduating next year I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you sitting down with a professor that you feel comfortable with and just ask them, can you help me write a resume?  Once you have that resume done, if you don’t have a job, make Job Hunting your full time gig.

2. Do not Procrastinate

This was my problem after college.  Once I graduated in 2009 I thought I’m going to give myself about 3 months of “vacation” before I start job hunting, I’ll be fine I have a college degree.  WRONG!  VERY VERY VERY WRONG!  Do not have this mentality.  Even if you went to the most prestigious school, you need to work your bum off.  If you have a vacation planned right after you graduated ok, that’s one thing, but don’t’ just sit around for 3 months not being productive.  In my case I knew that the economy had crashed and I think I was in denial.  Those 3 months that I took off and just acted like a lazy bum was such a mistake.  By that time, most of the recent college graduates had gone on interviews and gotten the jobs that could have been mine.  The more and more you put off, the faster time flies.  Seriously, I remember my college graduation like it was yesterday, and I really don’t know where the time went.

3. Start Organizing

I cannot express enough how important it is to organize yourself.  Especially when your bills start coming in, if you are responsible for them.  In the beginning I was really relaxed about everything, and I didn’t know where anything was half the time.  Make sure to organize your resumes, cover letters, bills, and write down in a calendar when you have an interview, with what company, and which interview it is (first, second, etc).  Organizing yourself is the next step to becoming an adult.  You know how some adults have it all together?  Those are usually the ones with assistants or they are their own assistant.
4. Change your Crowd

This was a pretty big mistake of mine.  Out of most of my friends I was the only one to go to college, minus 3-4 people.  I’m not saying that college kids are above high school graduates whatsoever because I know people who are extremely talented that never went to college.  What I’m saying is, when you graduate college you have huge student loan bills that will be coming your way.  You NEED a steady income.  If the crowd that you are surrounded by are just making it and have the mentality of a high school kid, you need to start hanging out with people who are adults.  You need to start networking and making connections with people who are established.  You never know, they may even have an opening in their own job that you can apply for.  If the crowd you are hanging out with is putting you down for having a college education (that was what happened to me) you need to find other friends.  You need to find friends who are going through what you are going through so that you have someone who understands your struggles.  I was put down by my group of friends constantly by them saying, see where that college education got you?  Absolutely nowhere, we have better jobs than you do.  That is not the type of crowd you should be around.  To be honest, any type of crowd who is putting you down is toxic and unhealthy. 

5. Work Hard, Play Hard

Ok, so I might’ve said that all of your fun was over in step 1 but I’m going to be a little hypocritical here.  I’m not saying you can’t have ANY fun.  However, you are an adult now, so you have to have adult fun.  Or, you can just reward yourself after working you’re a$$ off.  Meaning, if you’re job hunting and say you were job hunting for 8 hours, you are well deserving of a night out or even going out to dinner.  Maybe keep your nights out strictly for the weekends, but dinner is fine.  You have to keep some kind of positive attitude, so sometimes a break is what you need.

6. Routine

Get into a routine.  Most adults have routines because they hold down jobs that are usually Monday-Friday and your typical 9-5.  My job is 8:30-5:30 but it’s close enough.  I have a routine, and yes it can get boring but it’s part of my life now.  Weekends are my fun days where if I want I can just veg out in front of the couch, or clean my apartment, or actually go hang out with people haha.  Maybe wake up a little earlier, rather than sleeping in until 12pm.

After college your world and life will change drastically.  There is no way to ease you into this.  You will find that you need to find a new identity because what you knew for so many years of your life is not going to be the new you.  You will go from having classes and discipline of getting your papers in on time and taking finals to finding a job and starting a new life.  The stress in your life will no longer be a deadline on a paper, it will be a deadline for your boss that can cost you your job in some cases.  You will need to start learning about things like a 401K and Health Insurance.  You might even end up moving out on your own and driving a car that you also have to pay for.  Just keep telling yourself that you’re an adult and you got this.

To see last year's So You've Graduated Series I've listed all of those posts below:

So You've Graduated!  Mani Monday
So You've Graduated! OOTD 1
So You've Graduated! OOTD 2
8 Ways to Rock Your Interview
5 Ways to Keep Your Job

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