May 6, 2014

Why Being a Post Grad Isn’t so Bad. ~ Jen Weddle

Clock by Arisha Singh - Products & Objects Technology Objects Stock Photos on Pixoto

The alarm clock rings for a third time and I let it buzz next to my ear, while a strange sense of déjà vu washes over me: It’s been almost a year.

A year since I could hit that alarm button for a fourth time without consequence, but now I have a job and bills and responsibility. It dawns on me that I’ve been a post graduate for an entire year this upcoming weekend, and I have somehow survived it.

Sometimes, I wonder if my alarm clock is some strange metaphor for life and for time. I can’t seem to shake the feeling that it’s helped me and shaped me into the person I am today. Now, instead of shutting my alarm off, I start each day celebrating how far I have come this year.

I have survived breakups, heartbreaks, moving away, adventures, unemployment, employment in the “real world” and much more. I’ve survived things that a year ago I thought I would never be able to face, and I’ve came out of it all with a better perspective and a deeper understanding of life and the beautiful world we live in.

First of all, I would like to congratulate all graduates on accomplishing something so great and beneficial. It may not feel like it at this moment but you have done something amazing and you should be proud of yourself. It isn’t easy sitting through four or five years of intense (sometimes boring) lectures, studying until your brain turns to literal mush or trying to juggle school, work and a social life, but you did it!

After finals, it’s going to hit you.

You’re going to ask yourself the question that we’re all faced with: Now what?

What exactly am I supposed to do after this?

After I’ve spent my whole life up to this point in the education system I have no idea where I’m supposed to go or what I’m supposed to do. Well let me be perfectly honest with you for a second because it isn’t pretty. You’re probably going to be one of two people after graduation:

1.) You’re going to have a job lined up in a great city right after graduation… everything is perfect. Other then the fact that you have to move halfway across the country for this new job in a place where you know absolutely no one.

2.) Or you’re going to be packing away all of your belongings and moving back in with your parents, while you search endlessly for something… anything to fill your time and your bank account.

After graduation I was the second person and for a long time I was a little bummed out about it.

It wasn’t like I was embarrassed to say, “I live at home. So you want to go on a date with me? I also probably can’t afford to buy a side of french fries because my education was so expensive, but maybe I can like, read you some poetry for dinner or something.”

No. I wasn’t embarrassed in that way, it was more that I felt like I had disappointed people and let everyone down.

I have this tendency of trying to make everyone happy and quite often I forget to make myself happy.

So I took this year to breathe, to relax and to connect with myself in a way I had never been able to before. That is why I think as a post graduate I can give you a little bit of advice that I wish I would have had after graduation.

Here are a few tips I have learned along the way that may make your life after graduation a little easier:

1.) Stop planning: Alright, so you’ve had this perfect life planned in your head and you think you’re going to graduate college and be the CEO of a big corporation making billions of dollars a year. Well, guess what that’s probably not going to happen: Plain and simple.

Look at Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, neither of them finished college and look how far they went in the business world. Just because you have an education does not automatically set you up for success. Sometimes not planning our futures can help us be open to something a little “out there” and who knows that could be the next big thing. But if it’s not that’s OK as long as you’re happy.

2.) Stop worrying: Take a deep breath. Everything is going to be alright. You sent out hundreds of resumes and haven’t heard a damn thing from those corporate assholes. I send you a virtual consoling pat on the back because the job market is tough. The parents of my generation have filled our heads with nonsense.

They have told us that we can do and be anything we want to and now we’re faced with the cold hard facts: a 6.3 percent unemployment rate. That’s fairly high, especially if you’re competing with hundreds of others for a job. Stop worrying because you can’t change the way things are at this moment in time.

3.) Embrace your strange: The unemployment rate may be at 6.3 percent but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little creative. I had managers call and want to interview me, “just based off of the quirky resume and cover letter.” I stopped caring so much about structure, skills and a formulated equation, and I was up front with potential employers.

I chose my favorite companies, and I told them about things I liked to do in my free time, places I’ve traveled, people I’ve interviewed and why I would be a great fit for their company on my resume and cover letter. I made each one personalized, and I didn’t rush it.

When I stopped sending hundreds of “preformulated” resumes that weren’t creative and didn’t feel like they had personality, I got results. Also, if that doesn’t work then you can just email them and check to see if they had a chance to look at your portfolio.

4.) Be appreciative: There are going to be really hard days. Some days you might not want to get out of bed, and no it’s not going to be due to an intense hangover. It’s going to be due to the fact that life after graduation is probably the most disappointing, reality-shaking time of your life.

Appreciate your family if they’re helping you out because without them you’d probably be homeless, but hey, you did get a degree! So maybe being homeless isn’t so bad. If they badger you to do the dishes, just do them because they’re amazing and supportive parents and the least you can do is a chore once in awhile.

5.) Love yourself first: At the end of the day, do you know who you have to deal with? Yourself. So why do we spend so much time trying to please everyone else? I found that after I graduated I needed to breathe and relax, so yoga, running and writing became my outlets.

I worked at a bank during the day, I wrote for websites at night and I generally just found more time to do the things I loved after graduation.

It was a time for myself: A time to think and dwell and to feel happy or sad without anyone’s opinion or thoughts clouding my judgement. I finally found a love and appreciation within myself that I had suffocated under piles of books and deadlines and knowledge.

Congratulations Class of 2014! Celebrate your accomplishments, graduate. And if you’re a post graduate, like myself, maybe you understand exactly what I mean and you wish that you would have had this list sooner.

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Apprentice Editor: Jen Weddle / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Arisha Singh / Pixoto

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