What I Wish I Knew About Life After Graduation: Part 3 – Work

Work work work work working on your ish.

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Business Cat No Idea What I'm Doing
I feel your feels, business cat. 

Congrats, class of 2015! You did the thing! You got the piece of paper! All your late nights, hysterical breakdowns, and manic study sessions over the last four(ish) years have finally paid off! We’re so, so, so proud of you!

When I graduated a little over a year ago, I thought I was so ready to be an adult and do adult things, like have a job, have a husband, and have responsibilities. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, y’all: Adulthood is a trap.

Don’t get me wrong— adulthood is awesome. I love my job. I love my husband. I love my friends. No one can tell me that I can’t have whiskey and ice cream for dinner. I’m happy with my life right now. But I was so, so unprepared for a lot of the ish that went down in the last year. 

In part one of this series, we talked about the weird things that may happen with your college friendships after graduation. In part two, we talked about how to take care of yourself like the badass young adult lady you are, aka adulting. Now, in part three, we’re going to talk about work-related stuff I wish I had known after graduation. 

Searching for a Job Is a Full-Time Job

Bruce Almighty typing
You will spend 8 hours a day feeling like you’re doing this. 

If you were lucky enough to land a job before or right after graduation, that’s awesome! Look at you fly, you beautiful bird! If not, that’s fine, too. 

The job market is still a little rough for grads right now, I’m not going to lie, but with a good work ethic and some determination, you’ll find that job. Everyone’s path is different, and it’s okay if you need a little more time than others to find a full-time job. The most important thing is that you don’t get discouraged. Keep putting yourself out there. You will get a job. 

You’ll be sending out a lot of resumes. I’m not exactly sure how many positions I applied for last summer, but my goal was 10+ applications a week, and I actively searched for about 8 weeks before I accepted my internship. My husband applied for nearly 200 positions when he was searching.

And you won’t hear back from everyone. Out of that number, I ended up with about 7 or 8 interviews, and I’ve been told that’s a good amount of feedback. 

Let your network know you’re looking for a position. This includes your professors, your friends, your family, your family’s friends, any mentors you had from internships or previous employment. Chances are, someone in your network has someone in their network who is looking for someone with your skill set. No harm can come from a friendly email letting your contacts know that you’re looking. 

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re interning somewhere after graduation. I definitely beat myself up a little bit for accepting an internship rather than a full-time job after graduation, but it paid off in the end; my internship led me to a position in my company that I absolutely love.

For a lot of industries and companies, internships are the easiest way to get your foot in the door, and a lot of companies prefer hiring interns rather than external candidates for entry-level positions. If an internship after graduation is your path to your full-time job, that’s your path. Own it. 

And finding a part-time job to pay the bills is totally okay, too. So is moving back home with your parents. There’s nothing wrong with doing what you need to do to stay afloat or keep you occupied while you’re looking for a job. 

Right after I got married, I moved in with my husband and started looking for a job, but I felt like I was going crazy just sitting at home all day staring at a list of open positions on a screen. I wish now I had found a part-time job just to partially occupy my brain so I wasn’t so obsessed with finding a job all the time. It would have also helped me save money for our move across the state. Which brings me to my next point…

You Might Be Moving A Lot

New Girl moving
Moving feels a little like this, even without a Jess Day-level breakup. 

I moved three times in four months after graduation, which seemed to be close to the average of my friends. You will at least be moving out from college, and if you’re moving back to your parents place, at some point you will be moving out from there, too, so prepare yourself for the emotional stress and exhaustion that comes from moving. 

Take stock of what you have. It’s easier to move when you don’t have a ton of stuff, and there’s something really satisfying and cathartic about getting rid of the stuff you don’t need. An impending move is a great time to do a closet purge or get rid of unwanted furniture or knickknacks. 

This is also a great time figure out what things you’re missing that you might actually need, like work-appropriate blouses or new running shoes, or fun, adult-y type things like a dresser or lingerie chest rather than piling all your clothes in a heap on the floor. 

Save up for the move. If you have furniture and don’t have a large car, you will probably need to get a U-Haul or a moving truck, which will cost some $$$. Also, depending on how far you are moving, you might need to spring for hotels or meals on the road. 

Ask your friends for help. Movers are also expensive, and if you have friends in the area, feel free to ask them to help. They will probably say no, but ask anyway. And if they say yes, buy them a pizza and some nice beer or wine after all the work is done, because you’re a good friend. And if they ask you for help when they move, do it. 

You Probably Won’t Be Good at Your Job When You Start

B is for Bad Spencer
I am a Spencer to my core. 

This was probably the thing I struggled with the most when I started my full-time position three months ago. I’ve spent my entire life as basically a straight-A student (even my blood type is A+, yo), so making mistakes at work, from sending emails to the wrong people to slowing down projects because I was new and unfamiliar with processes, felt (and still feels) a little devastating. 

It’s okay to make mistakes. Your co-workers and supervisors all probably remember what it was like to be new and young and inexperienced, so they expect you to make mistakes and adapt to the workplace at your own pace. As long as you aren’t making the same mistakes over and over again, most people will understand that those mistakes are part of the learning process. Try not to beat yourself up over it, and learn from those mistakes. 

Learn to take criticism. If your supervisor or a co-worker points out a mistake, take this as an opportunity to grow and learn, rather than a judgment on your worth as a member of a team. Constantly grow, learn, and evolve from your mistakes, and take it all in stride.   

Use your mistakes to grow. If you find yourself frequently making the same mistakes, you know what goals to set for yourself and what sort of task you will struggle with in the future. Set a SMART goal and share it with your supervisor so they can help keep you accountable. Or, use your mistakes to point out holes or possible improvements in processes, if you feel comfortable doing so. 

What do you think?

What do you wish you had known about life after graduation? Did you like this series? What other things would you like to know about life as a young adult? Let me know in the comments below!

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