Disclosure: I was compensated to write this post by The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life by T.A. Barron through Crackerjack Marketing. The views expressed in the post are my own.
I never graduated from high school. I took my final exams. On the last exam day in June, I returned all my textbooks to my high school. Said goodbye to my teachers. And caught a bus and then a train home. I finished high school but never had a graduation ceremony. There was no graduation ceremony at my high school. No cap and gown. No pomp and circumstance. In England, you leave school on the day of your last exam in June and only return to school in August to get your exam results. It was just as anti-climactic as you might imagine!
After Graduation: Life!
Though I never had a high school graduation, I did have a college graduation. The day was an awesome culmination to my amazing college experience. I attended college in Pennsylvania thousands of miles away from my home in England. On that gorgeous May weekend, I celebrated my graduation with ALL the pomp and circumstance! I took my then-boyfriend-now-husband to a college dinner dance with my friends. I took my parents and boyfriend to a night before graduation buffet dinner with friends. My graduation day was glorious. Not a cloud in the sky. The sky was so bright that I had to apply sun screen to my face, neck, and legs. After graduation, there was just time for a wonderful graduation lunch with my family and boyfriend before packing up my dorm room and heading home to begin my life. Family and friends not only showered me with praise that weekend, but gave me important graduation wisdom.
In the years since graduation, I have pondered the graduation wisdom given by friends and family. I was given so much very good advice for handling all aspects of my life to come…work, job changes, relationships, marriage, buying a house, children, and even retirement. The sage advice immediately resonated with me. Other pieces of advice, I didn’t quite understand. I stowed those nuggest of wisdom away for the future.
I was given so much very good advice. Some wisdom I listened to. Some I ignored. Some I only realized was relevant years or even decades later. I wasn’t at the stage of my career to be able to digest the graduation wisdom. Or I hadn’t reached a certain life milestones to be able to comprehend and act on the graduation wisdom.
Graduation Wisdom For Life And More
Relax And Enjoy Graduation
Four years of college went by slowly…at least they did for me. I savored every moment. Enjoyed living on my home. Experienced all that college had to offer…from academics to entertainment. Graduation hit me like a ton of bricks. Bam! All of a sudden I was a college graduate in need of taking the world by storm. I was told by more than one relative to relax. RELAX. Take a breath. Take several breaths. Rest. Savor the joy of graduation. Not rush in to anything for at least a little while. I was urged to get together with friends to celebrate. Remember, you have your whole life to conquer the world, give yourself time to savor the joy of graduation!
Plan Your Future
Every semester for four years I planned my course load. I weighed professor’s reputations. I looked at class times. I planned how I would take all the courses for my major and minor. When you are a new college graduate, it seems as though you don’t have the luxury to plan. Planning your life post-graduation is not less important. If you feel as though you have to rush headlong in to your career and life. Follow my earlier graduation wisdom and RELAX. Take a moment to plan. Grab a notepad. Pull up a google spreadsheet. Create a game plan for post-college life.
Ask All The Questions
Ask all questions. Enlist the help of your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, your parents’ closest friends, college professors, and your fellow graduates. The people who surround you will become your trusted advisors over the years. Remember no question about finding a job is too trivial or unimportant, so ask ALL the questions.
- Do you want to start looking for a job immediately? You may have a job lined up, but many college graduates do not.
- Do you want to start working right away? You might want to take time off for a vacation before job hunting or even do a cap year.
- How will you start your job search? Asking friends? Searching online? Signing up with an employment agency? When you look for work, you need to be strategic but also you need to be practical. You are unlikely to land the job of your dreams out the gate. Remember: RELAX.
- Where do you want to work? I was living in a Washington, D.C., suburb.
- What kind of job are you looking for?
- Can you afford to move out?
- Do you want to live at home until you can afford to move out?
- How long of a commute do you want? I had to factor in Metro fares and parking fees to my budget.
Give Yourself A Chance To Fail
I was told by quite a few of my “trusted advisors” that I would not find the perfect job after graduation. Did I listen to their sage wisdom about life and everything? Of course, I didn’t. I had job interview and job interview. I aced some. I bombed a few. A few jobs were not the right fit…either for me or the company. I was hard on my self. VERY hard on my self.
One month post-graduation with no job in sight, I was very down. I was about to give up on my job search. Though many of my family and friends had given the very sage graduation wisdom that the right job will find you if you keep on looking. I was impatient. I wanted to find the perfect job right away not wait. I had very unrealistic expectations that I would land a job just a few short weeks after graduation. When I didn’t land THE perfect job, I was crushed.
Change Your Life’s Path
I stopped looking for the perfect job. I took a detour on my job hunt. I reflected on the sage graduation wisdom from a close friend of my parents that every college graduate will have five careers and possibly many jobs before retirement. Following that graduation wisdom, I changed paths. Instead of continuing what was becoming a fruitless job search, I applied for a job with a former summer job employer. Those few months working a summer job during the day and applying for jobs only at night and on weekends were just what I needed. I was able to save a little money, take a breather from the stress of working day-in and day-out on finding a job, and hone my job search.
Refine Your Life’s Path
I was applying for administrative assistant jobs, which a so-so fit with my English major background, but my typing skills were rusty. Very rusty. I was losing out on jobs I did not want because of my slow typing speed and because I was overqualified. I didn’t even want to be a secretary! I returned to the drawing board.
I started looking for jobs that specifically asked for an English degree. I was amazed at how many jobs opened up once I refined my job search. I was able to scan job listings quicker once I had refined my job search. I applied for a plethora of jobs…editorial jobs with publishers, communications jobs on the Hill (I was living in a suburb of Washington, D.C.), and more. By summer’s end I had landed an editorial assistant job with a publisher. Though the job was not ideal and only stayed for a couple of months, I started graduate classes and formed a plan for searching for a job that was a better fit.
Savor Graduation Wisdom From Family And Friends
I was given many great pieces of graduation wisdom from family and friends. And the best advice by far was to relax. Relax and find the right job. Relax and make well-thought out, not hasty decisions. Relax and smell the roses. There’s no rush…you have your whole life ahead of you.