March 13, 2012

Little Girl Prepares for the Big, Scary Real World. ~ Hayley Samuelson


I didn’t believe senioritis was a real feeling until I started my final semester of college this January. How, may you ask, did I come to realize that this contagious infection could actually plague a group of twenty somethings?

Since the beginning of this semester I noticed it slowly creeping up and consuming my friends one by one, I vowed to stay strong. But then this increasing lack of motivation began creep into my typically over-motivated mind.

Spending time with the friends I knew would soon move away from me became more important than completing homework assignments. Exploring undiscovered areas of my town trumped studying for exams. Grades, which took precedence nearly all of my life, began to seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Who was really going to look back and care if I got a C in my politics class?

The scholarly part of me, that genuinely cares about my education began to butt heads with this newfound procrastinating voice that acts as the little devil on my shoulder tempting me with fun and excitement. Eventually, I gave into this voice but I still need to remember that…

In exactly two months I will sit with thousands of my peers all clad in black caps and gowns and receive the coveted university diploma we have been working toward since we entered the education system.

In exactly two months I will no longer be an undergraduate.


In exactly two months this little girl, sheltered in the bubble that is Boulder, will be thrown into the big, scary, real world. I feel extremely unprepared.

As I struggle with the realization I will leave the perfect town I have come to call home for the past four years and the amazingly beautiful people I have met along the way, I avoid the inevitable…the real world.

I have no idea what is going to happen after I graduate and I know I am not alone in this feeling. I hate the question, “what are your plans after you finish college?” I subconsciously avoid thinking about it and distract myself with interesting activities so it is not hard to avoid the topic.

But as more and more of my friends solidify their futures, ignoring the subject is no longer practical.

So, in honor of having only two months left until graduation, I have decided to share my knowledge on the frightening subject.

I’m not going to claim that I know how to solve everyone’s problems and that my tips will get score them a high paying job but I’ve compiled advice from people that I respect and thought it would be worth sharing with other confused 20-somethings.

 1.    Talk to People whose careers or lifestyles you admire. This idea seems to be a trend with almost everyone I have spoken to that has made the transition into the real world. Ask these people how they got where they are today, what information they can give to help you in your job search, what general advice they can give you about the future and if they have other contacts you can talk to. Talk to people in a profession or have a lifestyle you think you may want and  find out what their lives are like and if they are ones you would enjoy.

2.    Figure out what you really want. After talking to people and discovering further insight into your future start compiling lists of what you really want to do, unless you know for sure already. But if you are like me a lot of different things sound inticing. Write out what you really want out of life and a career and why. While your at it, write down what you do not want to do and why. List out places you would like to live or work, career paths you would like to follow, areas of interest, dream jobs, your strengths and genuine interests, this can act as drafts of a cover letter and also help to narrow down the areas of where you should apply

3.    Be Proactive in the Job Search. Do your research, once you know areas of interest start looking at companies that interest you and compile another list. An interesting tip I learned is to use social media to your advantage. I was interested in the online publication, GOOD, I began to follow them on twitter and then looked into companies they followed to get more ideas of cool companies to work for. This is no ones responsibility but your own, so get to looking!

4.    Put yourself out there. We live in an age where we have the opportunity to contribute to the global sphere of media unlike any before us, so take advantage of it. Create a blog and post meaningful pieces of work. If you are an art major this can act as an online portfolio, as it can for writers, poets, comedians, aspiring politicians, musicians, environmentalists or anyone who wants to have a voice. If you can write, contribute to online publications and get yourself published, its easier than you think. Everyone has been telling me to create a LinkedIn profile too, it is just one more way to put yourself out there.

5.    Ask for Help. If you are like me, you hate asking anyone for help on anything. You would rather mess up silently and eventually have the satisfaction in a job well done when you figure it out. But you don’t have the time to waste and if you are like me you really could use some help. Ask mentors, advisors for help with resumes and ask others to read over your cover letters. Attend career workshops and visit your career services because many a time they have input that is valuable.

Caro Wallis

6.    Apply, apply, apply but don’t get discouraged. We hear of those people who have ins here and there and if you have contacts use them but if not try to make some. Be prepared for anything, as my Dad says, get ready for negative response. The job market is an unsteady place right now, if you get turned down just keep trying and keep in mind that for some people it takes a long time to score a job. I try to remember that everything happens for a reason and if one place rejects my application, it was just not meant to be. But keep applying.


7. Follow up:  If you don’t hear any status updates about your application, follow up! Email or call asking if your application has been reviewed. When you get an interview make sure that you follow up with a thank you note, the extra effort it takes to write out the card makes you a much more likable candidate and it is the polite thing to do. When in doubt, follow up with these places you are truly interested in, what can it hurt?

8.    Make time to live up your college days. If you are like me you don’t have many left and it can be scary but try not to get completely caught up in thoughts of the future. Though I was diagnosing senioritis as a bad thing, going along with that nagging voice in the back of your head can lead you down some great roads.

When I graduated from high school, everyone told me that college would be the best time of my life. Now as I prepare to enter the big girl world, people talk with a more serious and cautious tone. As one who enjoys new experiences and revels in the excitement of change, I cannot wait until I enter this ‘real’ world, since apparently I have been living in some fake world prior to this point. I have a feeling that becoming completely autonomous and responsible is going to be a great time in my life. I don’t know why my twenties should be any less compelling than my college years.

So bring on the work and bring on the monumental change, I can handle it. At least, I think I can. It is going to be an adventure.


Hayley is studying journalism, politics and international media at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In between juggling school and various jobs, she makes time to snowboard, travel, write and craft. She surrounds herself with people that motivate and embrace her as she strives to make a difference in anyway she can. Follow her on twitter.

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