Graduating from college will be an exciting time in your life. You have spent the last few years working hard every single day in order to earn a degree, but what do we do now? The change from college life to the real world can be overwhelming. It is a time in your life when you will face great change and you will start figuring out who you are and what you want to do. Here are some tips on how to find yourself after college.
Take a Break
It’s okay to take a break after spending four, or more, years working towards your degree. Take some time to relax and unwind before settling into your new life. Starting grad school or jumping into a career is not an immediate necessity. You can take a few months off to travel the world, volunteer somewhere that means a lot to you, or pursue a new hobby. Taking a break and a moment to relax and refresh and energize you for the next big step in your life.
Reflect on Your College Experience
Take some time to think about your college experience. What did you enjoy the most? What didn’t you like? What did you learn about yourself? What experience holds the most vivid memory? Reflecting on your college experience may help you figure out what you want to do next. Maybe you loved your English classes and would like to pursue a career or volunteer in writing, or maybe you discovered a passion for environmental science and want to work in a field focused on sustainability. Thinking about what you liked and didn’t like about your college experience can help you figure out your next steps.
Explore Your Interests
Take some time to explore your interests. You spent years working towards your degree and now is the time to pick new interests or old interests that you have put on the back burner during your time focusing on your education. Look into taking a fun class or volunteering for an organization or non profit. This may be a way to meet new people and gain new skills. If you’re not sure what your interests are, start by exploring your current or past hobbies and researching ideas of new things to try.
Networking after college will be a way for you to get your foot in the door at your desired company or in your sought after field. Networking can look like many things, this may be in person networking events, chatting with alumni from your school or getting on sites online like LinkedIn. Most people are happy to help recent graduates so don’t be scared to reach out to people you don’t know.
Failure is a natural part of life, and it’s especially common when you’re starting out in your new career field. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things, even if you might fail. Failure can be a great teacher. Embracing failure also means being resilient and not giving up when things don’t go as you had planned or hoped.
Setting goals can help you figure out what you want to do and how to get there. Write down your short-term and long-term goals, and make a plan for achieving them. A vision board is another great way to view your goals and set your sights on what you want in life. Your goals might change over time, and that’s okay. The important thing is to have a roadmap for where you want to go, what you want to do, and things you want to achieve.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
It’s very easy to get caught up and compare yourself to others, especially in the age of social media when everyone only posts the positive highlights of their lives. But you will need to remember that everyone’s journey is vastly different. Your path after college will look different from most of your friends and classmates, and that’s okay. Set your own goals, focus on those goals, and don’t worry what other people are doing.
Take Care of Yourself
It can be stressful when you are trying to find yourself after college, so it’s important to always remember to take care of yourself. You need to get restful sleep, exercise as often as you can, take daily vitamins, and eat healthy meals. You will need to make time for things that bring you joy. That may look like reading, taking a hike outdoors, or hanging out casually with your friends. Taking care of yourself will help you stay focused and refreshed as you figure out your next steps after college.
Be Open to Change
Life is unpredictable, and your career path might take unexpected turns. Be open to change and embrace new opportunities. Being flexible and adaptable can help you navigate the ups and downs of your journey looking for a new career. It’s okay to change your mind about what you want to do or to take a different path than you had originally planned.
Seek Help When Needed
Always remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Recent college graduates may struggle with anxiety or depression when stepping into the real world. If you’re struggling with these common mental health issues while trying to figure out what you want to do, seek help from a therapist or from a counselor. Alternatively, your college might offer career counseling to help you figure out how to achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it.
The journey of finding yourself after college will take some time. Be patient while you figure out who you are and what you want to do after you graduate. Always remember to take breaks, reflect on experiences, explore interests, network, embrace failure, set goals, avoid comparison, practice self-care, and seek help when needed. In time, you will find your path and achieve your goals. Everyone will find themselves at their own pace and when you do achieve the self-discovery you seek, the joy and peace of mind will have made the journey worth it.