Have you heard “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore? It’s a catchy tune with great lyrics that drips with sarcasm and, in my opinion, offers real messages for all those new graduating students who are about to embark on their new lives as professionals.
I, for one, am excited to see what future generations will come up with and I get energized by their enthusiasm (maybe a good thing since I work with, and around, students regularly). The challenge is that I have had far too many conversations with students recently (as well as with the employers who are hiring them) about their lack of preparation for their future careers. Many students enter the workforce and get overwhelmed with “real life” versus their previous academic existence. Many students want the independence and easy step forward that is so easily depicted by Hollywood with the dream life (job, salary etc.) straight out of school. The reality is so very different! According to The Atlantic, up to 45% of College grads between 18-24 will actually become boomerang kids and move back home. Many are shocked that finding their supposed dream job, or even any job, is much harder than expected. Want to avoid being disappointed and yet still be on your way (whichever that way looks)? You need to prepare. How do you prepare? Here are just a couple of my tips:
- Check out what others who graduated with your education are up to. Use LinkedIn, your school etc. to find these people and look at their paths. It may not be your exact path (and probably shouldn’t) but it will show some options of next steps. Better yet – contact these people and ask them how they did it and what they learned from it. You will find that most people will be open to these types of conversations! They may even become an excellent mentor.
- Research the real cost of living (that doesn’t include only KD as a food group). Remember that your starting salary alone (if you even get one) will probably not afford you a cool condo in the trendy area. Remember the comfy clothes (Lulu’s perchance) and Uggs that got you to class as a student? That’s not going to cut it in a new job and you will be expected to own and wear appropriate clothes. Student loans? You do know they have to be paid back, right? Cost of drinks at the fancy club versus your Uni watering hole? How are you going to budget for this new life? If you know this information, you are going in with your eyes wide open and you will be know what you can handle financially and where the balance should be.
- Develop a plan! Plan for the fact that you may not get that corner office or dream job for quite a while. What are the steps to getting there? What aspects of your dream are you willing to be flexible with while still staying true to you. Will you be willing to take a very entry-level job but at your dream organization? Are you willing to take a chance on an entrepreneurial opportunity and capitalize on those great ideas of yours?
Students coming from any place (high school, college or Uni) have many bright opportunities out there but they cannot assume that those opportunities will be all sunshine and lollipops. They need to go out with eyes wide open and most importantly, plan for their bright futures.