You’re a college student approaching graduation and every single family gathering consists of the same questions, “What are you doing after your graduate?” and “Do you have a job lined up yet?” or maybe, “So, what do you want to do next?” And honestly, you have absolutely no clue. Trust me, I’ve been there. The real world is terrifying. Find a place to live, get a job, pay your own bills. I forgot to factor in car insurance and my phone bill. Talk about going 0 to 100 in the time span of a two-hour graduation ceremony. Now I understand why everyone gives you money for graduation. What they’re trying to say is, “Good luck. Remember to feed yourself.”
But, underneath all that doubt, you actually possess far more skills than you think; and not because of what you learned in college during the past four years. But because you’re eager to learn; whether that’s because you don’t want to starve to death from the obvious lack of financial stability or you really are excited for the next step, ready to act like an adult and take care of yourself. In my case, it was a little bit of both.
I remember move-in day my freshman year of college. My family was there to help me unpack and settle into my dorm three and a half hours away from home. My mom and I cried as she left; I’d never really been away from home before, however, I didn’t apply to a single state school because I wanted to be independent. At the end of my freshman year I had a 2.5 GPA, I was switching from a biology major to marine science, and transferring schools putting an additional six hours between myself and my family. Yes, I partied too much, slept during the wrong time frame, studied too little, had a tradition of walking to the dining area to eat breakfast with my friends at midnight, and I skipped class if it was raining outside.
Three and half years later and I was graduating Cum Laude from Coastal Carolina University with a marketing degree and a 3.5 GPA…and a job. So, when you pull yourself out of bed on a Wednesday morning, late for class, extremely hungover from the night out before, trudging across campus to take an exam you didn’t study for, and then remembering the paper you forgot to turn in last night, remind yourself that your life is not over. College is more about growing up, becoming independent, and realizing your potential than attempting to teach you how to succeed at your chosen career path even though you most likely don’t even know what that will be yet.
If you’re a new college student or impatiently awaiting move-in day, my advice for you is to make the most of your experience. Meet new people, join clubs, participate in social events, study abroad, explore yourself and your new city or town. Take everything in and don’t hold yourself back. This is your chance to realize who you really are and who you can become on your own. That’s how you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life.
If you’re quickly approaching graduation and panicking about what comes next, get an internship, seek help from the career center, ask for advice, don’t be afraid to take a chance, and try not to stress yourself out about what comes next. After transferring schools and switching majors for the second time, I joined an athletic club team, became president of that team, competed at places I’ve never been before, studied abroad in Europe, joined a few societies, and completed an internship. About two months before graduation, I figured I should probably start applying for jobs. My internship was in social media marketing, so I thought I’d try to stick to that area of expertise. Within a few weeks I had my first interview, which led to a second interview, and finally, a job offer. I went from completely lost and slightly unsure of what career field I wanted to launch myself in, to accepting a position as a content marketing specialist at Skutchi Designs which would begin a short two weeks after graduation.
If you’re wondering what Skutchi Designs is, we’re an office cubicle manufacturer and contract office furniture supplier. Yes…I said office cubicles. However, I promise it’s not as dull as it seems. A content writer is exactly what it sounds like. I write, a lot. I write for our own company’s blog and I write posts for related company blog pages. Sometimes I write product descriptions as well. When I commenced my college career as a biology major, I never pictured myself ending up with a career in writing, or even marketing in general. And I definitely never pictured myself working in a cubicle for a company that manufactures cubicles and referring to myself as a “cubicle specialist.” But, over time my vision changed (the writing part, not the cubicle part). You’re allowed to change your mind…a lot. It won’t be held against you. In fact, I think that’ the whole point; to change your mind and then change it again until you find out what makes you truly happy and what you really enjoy doing. I was always a pretty decent writer, I just never considered it as a career choice. But, I really enjoy it. And, I write about more than just office cubicles.
Sure, it was difficult at first, integrating myself into a new job position. Not to mention I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But, I learned more in my first three weeks here than college could ever have taught me about this position. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing; just be ready to learn and improve yourself. After four months, I feel like I’ve discovered my career path and most importantly, I feel accomplished and independent. Of course, I still ask for help and advice from my parents, I’m still driving the car that I got when I was 16, and I’m on my family’s phone plan, but I’m getting there; one step at a time, and you will too.
Taylor Landis creates blog content for a national office cubicle manufacturer, Skutchi Designs. Her topics vary from office design, organization techniques, architectural trends, occasional how-to guides, and other fun office related tips and tricks. Outside of the office, she enjoys riding her horse, teaching riding lessons, and competing in horse shows. Check out her most recent posts at http://www.skutchi.com/blog.html.