Lessons I’ve Learned After Graduating

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It’s been three months since I graduated with my Bachelor’s. There has been great moments and some rough ones post-grad, but there have been some interesting lessons I’ve learned from being out of undergraduate education.

It’s Good to Have a Plan B

When I was in my last year of undergrad, I kept saying I wasn’t going to get my Master’s. I was burnt out on school and watching many of my friends go through the glory and heartbreak of applying to programs made me create a distaste for the idea. My plan A was apply to jobs and start working full time, so a masters was a definite plan B, maybe even plan Q.

After I spent over 5 months applying to internships as one of my final requirements to graduate and struggling horribly, I figured that having a master’s as a plan B wasn’t as bad. But I was going to only apply to what I wanted, which ended up only being one program that I happily got into. And my plan B became my plan A, which thankfully gave me purpose after graduating.

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Anticipate Idleness

I have a ton of free time compared to my undergraduate education. To paint a clearer picture, my last semester before graduating I worked four jobs, was still a full-time student, studying for the GRE and applying to my master’s, and trying to keep a shred of my sanity. I won’t get into the grueling details, but I was certainly a very, very busy individual in the least glorified way.

After graduating, it was the Holidays so a slower time for everyone generally. But after that, I started my master’s part-time and don’t have a full-time job. I make a little money, but I’m not constantly occupied by responsibilities as I was before. I became idle, which was very difficult for me. I was running on overwhelmingly busy for so long that having free time again was actually terrifying. I’ve since filled this time with blogging and starting a freelance business, but the idleness hasn’t completely left.

You Will Fail

So I have a huge issue with failure, with the short story being that I hate it. But somehow you will probably fail after graduating. Whether you fail to get a job or fail to get in your master’s program or other complexities you face, you’re going to have to battle over the failure. I was failing at getting a full-time job to the point of complete defeat, which turned into a good thing. My energy and focus have shifted into writing more and starting freelance work instead, which is more of who I am anyway. I’m not a large company or small startup person, I’m an individual, be-my-own-boss person. Failure is a good thing, like the cheesy quotes on Pinterest tell us.

Don’t Stop Working for What You Want

Like I’ve already mentioned before, I spent a long time and energy applying to jobs I didn’t really want except for the money and stability to live off said money. I knew that I would eventually want to work for myself, whether that was freelancing or starting my own business, so once I finally hit the wall with job applications, I started working on that dream. Honestly, it’s better to spend your energy where you want to succeed and be than to suffer through things your heart is not in. Do I still want that financial stability? Absolutely (I have a bunch of loan glaring over my shoulder after all) but I’m going to divide my energy between finances and my dream.

You Won’t Remember Everything You’ve Learned

I feel like this is a given, but I want to reiterate it. You will remember the information that you will value the most and profit from. I remember plenty of marketing strategies and terminology, and I remember the techniques and skills from my early education as a photography major. I remember the wise words of professors that put faith in me and supported me through the most difficult times. You remember the things you use and need every day.

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College Wasn’t The Greatest Time of Your Life

To be completely honest, my undergraduate education was full of horrible, mind shattering, and heart-breaking experiences. I learned a lot from those times, and I will never regret going to college. I fucking preserved through it, through depression and panic attacks and full breakdowns and crisis counseling and bullying and sexual assault. College was hard, in more ways than one. I look forward to being out now and pursuing things I love and enjoy, to make up for those dark times. You have so much life ahead of you that you should make your whole life amazing, not just one part of it.

What have you learned from your college years or post-grad? Let me know below.

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. Jay Colby says:

    These are all great tips I’ve learned since I graduated as well!

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  2. Camille says:

    These are all so true! Graduating is such a huge step, but eventually, you figure it out.

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  3. ohbeehave says:

    I like your comments about how you didn’t plan to go back. I was the same, and then ended up going back for two Post-Grad’s anyway! HA! After that I stopped saying I would never go back.

    It can be tough to land the opportunities you are after, but it’s important to persevere, you will get there in the end. I used to apply for roles that were above my skill level and I was lucky to land one eventually. I think the best learning comes from challenging yourself and feeling out of your depth (and yes, unfortunately failing sometimes). It sucks to fail and I hate it too, but I try not to look at it as “fail” as such, and more as “what went right” and “what could I have done better”.

    All the best in pursuing your goals!

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  4. certifiedpastryaficionado says:

    I completely agree about having so much free time in the “real world” versus while in college. I worked in college, on top of all my school activities and studying so I was usually busy from 8am-10pm every day. Now, I just work 8-5pm and it’s so AMAZING.

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  5. Being a recent college graduate myself, I went through so many of the same things you did. It was a strange transitional period in my life! Always having a Plan B is so important and has helped my through failures and trials.

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  6. ambriarenee says:

    As a recent graduate, thank you for this post! I was recently talking to my best friend about what my next step should be. I applied to a graduate program, got accepted, but I’ve also struggled with my decisions to go full or part time. I’m currently in a job hunting mode, and although I have a job secured, it’s not where I want to be. I’ve been home for only a week, but I can feel the idleness sinking in too (which isn’t a bad thing), but since I’m so used to being busy, I do more things I enjoy to keep myself occupied, but there also needs to be a balance between work and rest. Ugghh! This entire process is another transition, but like you, I don’t regret attending undergrad. It has helped me grow immensely and I’ve learned a lot (not just academically).

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    1. It’s a huge and crazy transition. If only we were better prepared for the switch!

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      1. ambriarenee says:

        I wonder if we ever could though..

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