The time between pre-graduation jitters and post-graduation blues is brief. Unless you have already been guaranteed a job in your field, the idea of leaving college is intimidating for most of us. But whether or not you put your degree to use immediately after graduation, you can still use that time to your advantage. There’s not just one route to take when you’ve received your college degree.
AfterCollege.com conducted a poll last year that showed 83 percent of college seniors graduated without a job in the spring of 2014. We’ve all heard that a college diploma is the new high school diploma. Even after four or more years of hard work and experience in your field, you may not get hired immediately or at all in your field. That is what scares us: you could graduate with no direction and no idea how to find one.
Let’s say you don’t have a job lined up. Find something related to your career or at least interesting to you that you can pursue during that time. It may not be paid. It may not be full-time. But it is not a waste of your time. You could do an internship to keep your skills fresh while working a paying gig to take care of any debt you may have accumulated. Even though you have a college education you still have plenty to learn.
You still have to learn to be a real adult and embrace your independence. For many of us, our college years were at least partially financed by our parents or at the very least, probably not the best example of adulthood. Use this time to grow. Stop drinking, start working out and get rid of those friends that were never really good for you. Pay off those credit cards and learn how to create and live on a budget. Your parents aren’t going to take care of you forever (although you should stay on that family plan for your cell as long as possible).
Personally, I need a mental break from all things academia. I am looking forward to working a job that will pay my bills while I spend time volunteering and eventually, hopefully, joining the Peace Corps. You do not have to rush into the job market or grad school. Explore the other avenues you always said you never had time for in school. Maybe you can read for fun now that you don’t have your nose in giant textbooks all the time. Maybe you could take an evening class on Shakespeare or learn a language. Even if you’re working a dead-end job there will be more time to educate yourself on what you always wanted to learn.
Don’t panic. Your degree will not go to waste. Even if you never become a psychologist or anything near that field, the thousands of hours you put into achieving something will look good to whoever your future employer will be. We are still young. I definitely have not figured out everything that I want out of life at 22 years old. Before I commit to one path in life or start working towards one specific job, I want to know that it’s going to make me happy and give me the life that I desire. You may spend your post-grad free time figuring out that you want to pursue a completely different degree. Bam. There’s your direction.