Thursday, May 14, 2015

Five Pieces of Wisdom for College Grads

The end of another academic year always makes me stop and reflect on what I've learned since I graduated from college. Maybe I'll have some more coming your way in May with my upcoming 10 year high school reunion... #OLD, but I digress. I surely wish that someone would have shared more advice with me, and really I just needed someone to tell me me to stop worrying and that everything would truly work itself out.

As someone who talks to college seniors on a daily basis, I stopped to think about the main things I wish I had known when I was in their place. I supervise a group of students at work and after sharing these top five pieces of advice with them, I figured they should be shared more widely.

1. Don't worry too much about the future, but be intentional with your life.
If I could shout one thing from the rooftops on this campus, it would be this first statement. It is so easy to be worried and anxious about the future (I was too at this point in life), but I promise that things really will come together. There is no reason to spend the end of college stressed out about the future. Start thinking about what is next, not what is forever. I promise that more than 50% of "real adults" you know don't even know what their forever plan is.

However, you must be intentional with your life. I'm not telling you go walk around life oblivious to the future. Keep the future swimming around in your head, give thought to the next moves you want to make, take note of your interests and skills, and engage yourself in things that excite you.

2. If you get the chance to do something wild or cool--do it!
The things I would go back and do if I could be 21 again. I did spend my first year out of college living out of a suitcase traveling around the United States, and while I was a bit worried about it at first--I am so glad that I pursued that opportunity. My only regret here is I wish I made as many bold moves. I wish I had pursued an experience to live and work abroad for an extended period of time, or thought about programs like AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. Could I still go live abroad now, yes. But I'm also married, house hunting, have a great stable job that I love, etc. Not so easy to pick it all up and move it overseas!

3. There is life outside of work. Be sure to pursue other opportunities and hobbies. 
I have so many conversations with students that can't get over the fact that there's no one job that will let them pursue their 982354 different interests. Work can certainly be, and I personally think should be (but that's a post for another day), fulfilling. But it shouldn't be your everything. Find ways to pursue other interests or even learn something new. Not only will it help to keep you well-rounded but you might make some great new friends along the way. While 40 hours, or however long your week might be, is certainly a lot of time it's not all of your time. Arianna Huffington wrote an awesome piece Are You Living Your Eulogy or Your Resume? that I feel is necessary to read along with this point.

4. You'll probably be pretty tired on Friday nights after working all week and it's not lame to just stay in.
This was a hard one for me to learn. After starting my first full-time job I was surprised at just how exhausted I was on Friday evenings, and that was in the summer before things even got busy at work with classes back in session. Getting home on Fridays I always wanted to do something exciting, go out, see friends, live it up, but I was also incredibly tired. At the beginning I felt so lame not leaving the house on Friday nights, but now I think my favorite thing is coming home at the end of the week to catch up with our DVR over wine and dinner on the couch. And I don't even care if that makes me old. You have to take care of yourself too, and resting up on Friday nights means I can live a bit larger on Saturday nights.

5. As you learn about life, pass it on to younger friends, colleagues, family, etc. They'll appreciate it (even if they pretend not to).
My life philosophy is really passing down wisdom and advice. It's a part of everything I do from my job to Dogwood Brides and advising a chapter of my sorority. Sometimes it's easy to look at others and think that they have found this perfect path in life, that they didn't struggle through times of change, etc. But I bet you they did, they were just never vocal about it. Getting advice from someone during times of transition can be priceless just to know that you're not the only one who has felt the same way.

Writing this post was one of my favorites in a while, and I think because it's great to share some of my work as a career advisor. I'm toying with the idea of starting up a career specific series. Would you be interested in career posts for young professionals? What topics would you like to see or questions you have that I can help answer? Stay tuned!

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