Life After Graduation: Prepare Now

By Tim Handorf

The start of your last year in college is both an exciting and nerve-wracking time: you have one last chance to enjoy the college lifestyle before you face the unknown lurking beyond your graduation day. Be aware that, even as you enjoy your last two semesters, it is extremely important to prepare for the year after you graduate.

In order to do this, you first need to adjust how you think of your life post-graduation. So often we hear about how college graduates must get ready to face “the real world,” as if the “real world” were some kind of monster. While I understand the benefits of referring to life after college in this way, I think it can also have a negative effect on some college students, in that it could simply force them deeper into their protective bubble, further creating a rift between college life and life after.

Instead, I want to suggest that we should think of our college days as a legitimate part of the “real world.” Our study and play in college are just as real and legitimate as our career and recreational activities are when we’re older. If you can keep in mind the big picture and see college as simply another part of the “real world,” rather than isolated from it, then you will adjust well to your new lifestyle.

Once you’ve refined how you think of college and life after you graduate, you should try to apply this newfound awareness to your current situation. Based on the goals you have set for yourself, think of how the different aspects and people in your academic routine might parallel those you expect to find in your career. For example, think of your professors in your various classes as supervisors. Your assignments then become work-related projects, and your classmates become colleagues. Your grades are evaluations of your performance, not simply credits towards a diploma. In one sense, your diploma is a salary. Granted, this is a pretty reductive and clumsy extended metaphor, but such thinking will prepare you for a career by reorienting your attitude.

Of course, there is no preparation better than practice. You can perform thought exercises all you want, but you will need to find a way to participate in professional development so you will have some work-related experience to help you find a job. Be sure to visit your university’s career services office and see if you can arrange an internship to let you get a feel for the professional routine. Even if you do it once a week, the act of putting on a suit, driving off campus to an office building, and working in a professional environment that matches your career interests could very well help you prepare for the next step in your life.

This guest post is contributed by Tim Handorf, who writes on the topics of online colleges. He welcomes your comments at his email Id: 

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