My Advice to Recent College Grads + Those Entering Their Last Semester

My Advice to Recent College Grads + Those Entering Their Last Semester

Photography by Minela Sejdin

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It was this exact time two years ago, I was getting ready to start my dream internship and enter my final semester of college. I was nervous, excited, scared and anxious. I knew exactly what I wanted and I was determined to get it. I had big dreams and nothing was stopping me. I had my blog, but I wasn’t really active on it. I was going out, having the time of my life and meeting new people. I was truly living some of the best moments of my life. Living in the city, commuting to campus one day a week and taking the rest of my classes online. I loved every minute of it. I thought I had it all. School started and I was constantly swamped with projects and some type of work. I had all of my classes with one of my best friends, Gabby, and it seemed as though we spent most of our time goofing off. I look back and honestly wonder how we graduated since we had all of our classes together and continually got distracted by our personal lives and having fun. This was the best year of college, my last year. After our summer classes ended and the new semester started, we found ourselves wishing for graduation day. Counting down the days until we never had to walk on campus again, never had to take another test or write another mundane paper. We were itching to get out. We talked about what our lives would be like once that day came. We had dreams of moving to New York together, we talked about traveling, we wanted to start a business together – you name it, we thought about it. We were your typical college senior besties who had eyes as big as their heads and hearts full of our aspirations for our futures. We dreaded classes (even though we went one day a week lol), we were always late with Starbucks in hand, we goofed off in class, we hardly paid any attention and left early with any excuse we had. I sound like a great student, right? Seriously though, we got all of our work done and we did it well. We were just too creative to sit in those boring classrooms. Time started to pass and before we knew it, the semester was half way over. I was loving my internship and dreaming of one day sitting at one of the pretty white desks as a full-time editor.
October came and I was hit with a train of anxiety. OMG – I haven’t started applying to jobs yet! I was freaking out. I was terrified! I did not want to be that girl that graduated with a job secured. I couldn’t be. I was graduating early with good grades and an extensive resume, why wouldn’t someone hire me? Well, fast forward to the end of the semester and I had nothing. Not even a measly interview. I probably applied to over 130 jobs. Every single day I was looking and applying, but nothing. It was so incredibly discouraging. I thought I was a qualified candidate and had a lot to offer. Why couldn’t I get a job? I was so confused. I graduated with a degree in journalism. I knew what I wanted and I was also willing to move anywhere for it! But still, nothing came. Then I landed an interview with a company right after Christmas. I was ecstatic. This was it, my big break. Nope. They ended up having a hiring freeze and couldn’t take me on. So, I left on my two-week West Coast road trip with my other bestie. She had a job waiting for her when we got back, and while I was so incredibly proud and happy for her, I couldn’t help but be a little jealous because I wasn’t supposed to be the girl who couldn’t find a job. Still, I kept applying, every single day. After being home for a few weeks with no job in sight, I had to suck up my pride and work as a hostess. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not above that and there is nothing wrong with the restaurant industry, but it hurt. I had just worked my ass off for a degree in an area of study that I adored. I didn’t want to have to settle for less than I wanted.
I kept applying for jobs, multiple a day and even some that weren’t in the field that I wanted just in hopes of getting something stable. It took time but I finally landed a job with a small PR company in March (I graduated in December). We had the cutest office and I was so excited to have my own desk to decorate. I was being paid well, I had a great schedule, my boss was flexible and because it was just the two of us, I was able to make some suggestions when it came to projects. During this time I was still a little down about the fact that I wasn’t doing what I went to school for or what I had dreamed of doing. I felt like I was wasting time and missing out. I couldn’t help but think of what could have been. This is when I started to get serious about my blog. I started it back up and got to work. I needed to have creative control over something to keep me sane. I started talking to my parents about it and saying that I was worried that I wasn’t in the right career. They encouraged me to start looking for jobs again if it were something that I was passionate about pursuing. But I dreaded having to go through that process again. It was so disheartening and upsetting the first time and I wanted to avoid it at all costs. Then one night I had a conversation with my boyfriend at the time and he said ‘I’m going to give you some tough love — stop complaining about it and do something about it.’ Sure enough, the next morning I woke up to two emails from two companies that I had dreamt of working for. Two companies that I had not reached out to. I took this as a sign and blessing from God. Two people had reached out to me inquiring if I was still looking for a job. I couldn’t believe it. One was in New York and one was here. But I wasn’t ready to uproot my life and move away, so I took the one here.
So, fast forward to exactly a year later and here I am. I left a very well paying job with a company that I wasn’t sure about to have my dream job. I took the pay cut and packed up my office. Having my salary decrease was hard, but I couldn’t let my dream job pass me by. I would never be 22 again. I would never be able to make this type of career move again and financially remain afloat. So where am I at now? Not where I expected to be. I left the city at the beginning of this year and moved home to find myself. I was unhappy in many aspects and I needed to get a grip on reality and figure out what I wanted for my future. I took what I thought was my dream job, and while I’ve loved gaining the experience, now here I am again, confused. Post-grad has been rough. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s hard. It’s a hustle. I’m never not working, but that’s by choice. Because I’m now in a place again where I’m considering making a career change, I’ve started working harder than ever. If that’s what it’s going to take to get to where I want to be, count me in.
So what’s my advice for recent college grads or those who are entering their last semester of school? Don’t give up. I know, I know – so cliche. But it’s so true! It’s hard and it’s not fun at all, but it’s life. Job hunting is exhausting and draining, but I learned so much about myself through the process. And even once you have a job, don’t let it get you down. If it’s not what you want to do, that’s fine — find something new. Life is too short to be unhappy. I’ve learned that from experience in so many different aspects of life. If you’re entering your last semester of school, soak up every last second. Say yes to everything that you can. Hang out with your friends as much as possible before everyone goes their separate ways. Don’t miss out on opportunities to have fun just because you have school stuff to do. Trust me, it can wait. Live up this time in your life because it’s a season that I miss every single day. My mom always told me I was crazy for rushing college, and now I see what she meant by that. Man, do I miss it! There truly is no other time like it. And for those that are in the post-grad limbo, also enjoy it. This is the time to find yourself. Be selfish and do what you want. I’ve learned that if you aren’t filling yourself up, then you’re just going to continue to be drained by those around you. This is your time to shine and make a name for yourself. You’re either in a new city and starting completely over, or you’re in or near the same city where you went to college/grew up and you’ve entered a new chapter. You’re the only one who can make the best of this situation, so do it. Live your life to the fullest because that’s the only way you’re going to remain happy and satisfied. It’s not an easy road or journey to go on, especially if you’re doing it alone, but it can be so rewarding when you start to see the fruits of your labor. Don’t give up on your end goals and dreams. It’ll all happen for you, one day.

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