3 realities I didn’t expect after college graduation

By Pclose
05/29/2015
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I was in the final stretch of my senior year, covered in cookie crumbs and exam-morning sweat. It's not the prettiest image, granted, but it's the one that comes to mind. And once I finished my final exams, it didn't register in my mind that I was actually finished with college. Four years — of packing and unpacking, new friendships, and sleep deprivation — had never flown by so fast. Putting on the cap and gown — unsuccessfully attempting to adjust my cap to a less awkward cap-to-head ratio — I remember feeling so dazed and out of balance. Graduation felt liberating, but I didn't know how to process it. What does this mean? Now, almost a year later, thinking back to that moment, life after college isn't completely different from what I imagined it would be, but there were some big surprises. Here are three realities that totally blindsided me during my transition into post-grad life.

1. Your first job will not be your dream job

Wait What
That's right, kiddos! You'll need to experience your first five months of part-time hell before that dream gig comes along. Courtesy of Tumblr.

Let me paint the picture for you guys: I have a bachelor's degree in English literature with a double-minor in writing and journalism, and I worked as a supervisor at Mac N' Cheez! for four months before slamming my noodle hat on the floor and calling it quits. (I'll wait a moment for the laughter to subside.) Then I ended up working at Calvin Klein for five more months — which makes nine months of unsatisfied employment — until I finally took a leap with the handful of writing gigs I had and marched on. Thankfully, I'm much happier with the work I'm doing now, though it took me almost a year to find it.

You will get rejected (so has everyone else)

You hurt my feelings
Take it from Shosh: it's time to strap on those big girl/guy pants. Courtesy of Tumblr.

With all my experience and educational background, I didn't expect that there would be so many rejections in my future. The reasons ranged from being too fresh out of college and not having enough experience, to qualifications I was sure I met but apparently didn't. In this world reality a thick skin is necessary in order to eventually succeed. My GPA and the number of times I made the Dean's list didn't matter to employers. Truth is, employers cared more about the experience on my resume — jobs, internships, volunteer activities — than a list of academic achievements, which is why now I never include academic accomplishments on my resume, but rather make it a point to highlight all the companies I've worked for, which employers really seem to like.

Financial responsibilities are inevitable

Because student loan paybacks just aren't harsh enough already. Courtesy of  Pinterest
Because student loan repayments aren't harsh enough. Courtesy of Pinterest.

If you're one of the lucky ones (like me) who has the privilege of moving back home with your folks, understand that you will be held accountable for at least some of your expenses. This includes that precious cell phone of yours, your car and the insurance plan attached to it, and perhaps part of a utility bill or two. It's not like I didn't know this was coming, it was just something I hadn't properly prepared myself for. But it was a small price to pay — literally — considering the free room and board. So save money now; you'll certainly need it for the future.

Even though I can't offer you a fool-proof guide for navigating life after college, I can say that these revelations were the most important for me. I'm sure you've heard that it will be tough, and that is definitely true. But, I am grateful for having trekked that rocky road, because it led me here, to a platform that has given me the opportunity to help prepare you for the same exciting and unexpected journey.

About the author

Paris Close
Paris Close earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Aquinas College in 2014, where he worked as an editor for the college’s newspaper for three years. He is all too familiar with the horrors of final exams, almost being hit by flying lacrosse balls, and making friends with the snooze button. Paris's leading obsessions are Jack Falahee and Jack Falahee’s face and beard, respectively.

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