January 18, 2012

The Social Medium: 5 Things You Should Know Before You Graduate

Graduating college is one of the scariest feelings. The end of student life and the start of a professional one you may not be ready for can be daunting. You need to learn the rules of the game as you play it. Here are a few general tips to help you navigate your new lifestyle.

1) You may not actually be qualified to do anything.

Chances are you have little to no experience or qualifications to do anything. A lot of office jobs and entry-level gigs require at least 1-2 years on the job experience in an office or work environment. If you are lucky or prudent enough, you may have a college project, good references, or some cool practical work as your calling card.

You'll have to hit the pavement, dig, and find or create your own opportunities. Reading or doing research as well as networking is paramount in sublimating your knowledge base from school with working.

2) The competition out there is fierce.

There is seriously a ton of over achievers out there who either have it figured out or are just that damn talented. If you have the time to read this, chances are you aren't one of those people. It's okay but be aware, everything you want from your career other people want too.

Instead of blindly and unproductively trying to one up or protect yourself from others competing for jobs, opportunities, etc., learn from them. Peers and colleagues are there to help you, push you, and motivate you. You can learn a lot from those who have the same aspirations.

3) You have no idea what you're doing (and that's okay).

When you're in college (particularly university), you are sheltered. Saying you are studying at UBC, SFU, or wherever still has it's charm, because you have potential. Once you graduate, you need to start showing and paying off on this potential. Otherwise, you're nothing.

General degrees can be tricky. Have something, a special skill, you can show you do and do well. It's an opening. Find, ask, or research professionals with careers you would like to replicate and figure out how you can walk a similar path to success.

4) You're not really special.

I know it sounds harsh, but seriously, there are thousands of fresh new college graduates every semester/year. Most likely, nothing about you stands out. The most successful college graduates I know built on their momentum from school through internships, side projects, part-time work, networking, and other extensions of their studies.

Every desirable entry-level job opening from notable companies have hundreds of applicants from all walks of life. It certainly helps to set yourself apart. You can't just sit around waiting fo something to happen. Figure things out, make a plan, do something.

5) You will probably hate the job you think you want.

A lot of graduates I know still don't know what they want to do after four years and a degree. Some have envisioned and hyped up their chosen field of study or career choice. Once you get out there in the real world, it all changes. Actually doing something, a job, career, whatever every single day for the rest of your life in theory gives you a lot of perspective.

You've spent four years training to do something and realize while you found it interesting (or not), it might not be for you. Don't tie yourself to one path. Traditional college and university studies are not necessarily career oriented (aside from professional programs). College is for you to get a higher learning and knowledge network. Most grads will need further training, either on the job, volunteering, through internships, or more school (business, trade, or skills).

Photo | Treelines

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